Hair

My hair is the longest its ever been.  It’s also only 3/8 of an inch, on the sides.  I cut and buzz it myself.  I’m not sure whether it was a conscious decision (probably partially conscious), but as my face has become more masculine, I’ve grown my hair out in the back so that it falls over my shoulders slightly.  Also, it has gotten a lot more curly since I’ve been on testosterone.

I was initially on a low dose of Androgel for a few years, and there were really only 2 reasons that I stopped, in December of 2015:  1) I wasn’t sure what it was doing for me, at that dose, anymore.  And 2) Was it causing my hairline to recede?  That was totally freaking me out!

Two years later, I was ready to give testosterone another try.  The pros I envisioned (lowered voice, redistribution of fat and muscle, heightened libido, bottom growth) outweighed the cons I was pretty sure I’d come up against (feeling hotter, sweatier, potential hair growth and hair loss.)  And now that it’s been close to a year and a half, on a “regular” dose of injections, I’m still “in it” with that balance.  I don’t love all the changes.  But I love some of the changes more than I dislike others.

Hair is a big factor.  Probably the biggest factor at this point.  I’ll start with the easiest, most fun change:

Happy trail!!!  I’ve always wanted a happy trail, and now, finally, I have one.  That’s all I got to say about that.  It is awesome!!!

Facial Hair:  I do not like the increased facial hair at all.  I regularly – daily – pluck out chin and moustache hairs with tweezers.  I kind of love this activity – it’s satisfying to grab and pull out, one-at-a-time, each hair.  However, it’s more and more time-consuming, over time, as I have more to pluck out.  In addition, I’m sure I’m missing a bunch, especially finer hairs that can be seen in the sunlight.  Is this OK?  I guess for now, but it is a fine balance.  You know that old belief that may or may not be true?  That if you shave, the hairs will come back in thicker and darker?  I kinda believe that.  I don’t want to take that chance with my face.  Also, I’m not ruling out electrolysis, as a long-term solution, if it really feels that overwhelming in the future.

Hairline:  My hairline has definitely changed since being on testosterone.  I have a much more pronounced “widow’s peak.”  This is worrisome.  Balding definitely runs in my family.  I feel vain about it.  As of now, I just arrange the curls on the top of my head so that they fall forward, curly bangs covering up male pattern baldness.  But I’m not sure if I get to do this forever.  Probably not.

I also got some hair growth going on in other parts of my body, like my lower back and legs – all this feels neutral and natural.  I’m neither bothered nor excited about it.

I’m actually leaning toward lowering my dose now, as it gets warmer out.  I don’t want to feel overheated and smelly and sweaty.  And if a lower dose will slow some of the balding down, I’d probably feel better about it.  As long as my menstrual cycle doesn’t come back – that’s the balance I’m aiming for right now…  I’m sure I’ll feel differently at other points as well, but this is where I’m at.


Trichotillomania and taking testosterone

I have a mild case of trichotillomania.  It’s come and gone during different times in my life, and it’s always been specific to the hair on my face, not on my scalp.

Trichotillomania, to paraphrase wikipedia, is an impulse control disorder, also known as “hair pulling.”  It’s generally triggered by anxiety and stress, and is usually treated with CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy.)

In the past, I have honed in on eyebrow and eyelash plucking, using my thumbnail and pointer finger-nail as tweezers.  It hasn’t been bad over-all, like I still have eyebrows and eyelashes, it’s just that my left eyebrow is a little bit sparse.  It’s barely noticeable.

I also would get chin hairs, from time to time, starting in adolescence, and I would pluck those too, with my fingers or tweezers.  This was, apparently, “pro-social” behavior, because I was socialized as a female, and therefore, it’s necessary to eradicate any hint of a mustache or “chin whiskers.”  ???  I mean, there’s a whole industry just devoted to that – bleaching the “mustache,” laser-hair removal, waxing, etc.  Blah!

Still though, I keep pulling those hairs out not as a gendered statement, but rather because I liked the sensation of getting at them from the follicle, that very specific and very minutely visceral feeling of a “pull” away from something rooted underneath some of the layers of the skin.  It’s much more satisfying to get them with my fingernails, but I also use tweezers, so I can get ’em all!  The reason I’d say it’s within the realm of “trichotillomania” is because I will do this out in public and I can’t seem to get myself to stop.  It’s not just in front of my bathroom mirror.  It’s during break at work, with people sitting in the same vicinity.  It’s during a meeting, because I am bored.  It’s during a movie with a stranger sitting two seats away.  Etc.  Honestly, it doesn’t feel like a big deal.  It’s a rough life to be constantly conforming to societal standards, at least in my opinion…

Facial hair, for me, is a hard limit.  I do not want a beard.  If I have a shadowy mustache, that’s fine by me, but that mustache never stays for very long before I start plucking out each hair individually.  It’ll always happen eventually.

Now that I’m on a regular-ish dose of testosterone, I am getting more facial hair.  And I just will not give in and shave.  First off, I don’t feel like it!  I prefer my methods, even if it ends up taking 10 minutes per day – more or less – to “groom” my face.  Secondly, I do think that I believe that old wives’ tale, on some level, about the more you shave, the thicker and darker the hairs will fill in.  I do not want to do anything that could potentially promote more facial hair growth.

I do realize this is a little bit counter-intuitive (is that the phrase I’m looking for?)  Like, most people who are taking testosterone are embracing the full effect, whatever that means for them.  But as someone who is non-binary, it’s a little trickier.  Like, I like this effect, but this other thing screams “masculine” a little too loudly, and I’m not really feelin’ it.  Something to that effect.

If my facial hair growth ever did start to feel unruly / out of my control, and / or the “grooming” ritual were creeping up toward closer to a half hour per day, something like that, I would not rule out laser hair removal  At this time, it just seems a little too extreme, expensive, and unnecessary.  But, hey, with this kind of journey, sometimes you never know what is coming up next!