I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, we didn’t have XBoxes and PS3s and DSs and iPods and the Internet and we weren’t so afraid of pedophiles, so we played outside our houses. With each other. In groups, even. Like, we went over to our friends’ houses, and ate whatever their parents made us for lunch. We didn’t even have to call. All we had to do was be home by suppertime, or before it got dark.
We got to know each other, in person. In public, and in private.
The world was a little different then. Sexual and affectional orientation weren’t discussed. Gender identity was only beginning to be discussed in the academic community. But, the policing was still there, and even stronger than it is today. Things are easier, today. More open. Ellen came out. Will & Grace was a big hit. Brokeback Mountain made a lot of money in mainstream movie theatres. Even The Crying Game has been useful, in some ways.
See, the thing I’m trying to say is, there was always that kid in your town, the one who was…weird. The little boy who acted more like the little girls, but not because he was taught to act that way, not because he was putting on an act, and here’s what’s really weird to some people…not even because he was trans or even gay. He was just like that.
And there was always that other kid, too, the girl who was not just a tomboy, but didn’t even care if she ripped her tights and got mud all over her new dress and patent leather Mary Janes while she was teaching you a fucking lesson about how girls throw or who can kick whose ass, or whose ass at what. And she wasn’t trans, either. She didn’t grow up to be a lesbian. She didn’t even have a role model for that kind of behavior, and her parents were pulling their hair out because they were afraid the whole neighborhood thought they were bad parents when they were doing everything they could think of to teach their daughter to be “ladylike”. She was just being herself.
Then there were the other kids, who had no difficulty playing Barbies with the girls across the street in the morning, and racing bikes with the boys down the block in the afternoon. The boys who unabashedly dotted their “i’s” with little hearts and still kicked your ass at Dodgeball. The girls who went to ballet class and then got their traps out of the garage and went crabbing, enjoying both equally. (That was me. I was one of those kids.)
Gender identity and expression run the gamut from ultra-femme to super-macho, and there’s really no telling from one aspect of someone’s personality if that’s necessarily going to have any bearing on another aspect. Sure, some of us actually did turn out to be trans, or gay, or lesbian, or queer, or ace, or genderqueer, or any number of different ways to be. But lots of those kids didn’t.
Look, I get that, especially for some of you young dudes out there, when you see a trans guy who looks to you like they’re not putting much effort into looking like you, it pisses you off. I mean, it’s hard enough being trans as it is, amirite? Then you get this little shit muddying the waters. As a transsexual woman, I’m no stranger to those reactions, and I’m woman enough to admit that I’ve had them, and that they’re kinda problematic.
But the thing is, it’s not up to you. It’s not up to any of us. The reason why we have so much trouble with these feelings is that the ideas of what gay, or lesbian, or trans, or just in any way different from what most people are going to expect people “ought” to act like is imposed upon us from the outside. That’s why being any of these things sucks so much in our society. It’s because we’re constantly swimming upstream trying to forge our own way of being that makes us comfortable with ourselves.
So, let’s not do this to each other, OK? We get enough of that from “them”, and really, you ought to know better. There’s no one way to be. And being like that is just buying in to a whole lot of bullshit that’s better left in the distant past.
Even among the trans women I know most closely, since I’m a trans woman myself and their interests tend to align a bit more closely with my own, there’s a huge range of identity, expression, and circumstance.
I know femme trans women who couldn’t pass to save their lives, not because they don’t wear the right clothes or the right makeup, or have the wrong mannerisms, or the wrong voice, but because they just have the unfortunate legacy of long-term testosterone exposure. I know butch trans women who you would never suspect of being trans, not because they “look like men”, but because they “look like women”, and let me tell you something, that’s pretty fucking hard to pull off, and might be the Holy Grail of Passing. Being all hard-edged, butch, punk-rock and trans, and still being read as feminine and female is many orders of magnitude less common for trans women. It’s one of the reasons why so many of us appear to be so vain. It’s not because we have no brains, so to speak, or because we’re reifying the gender binary system, it’s just a survival tactic in a lot of cases.
Hell, I even know trans women who look just like cis guys and don’t even bother wearing “women’s” clothing. And you know what, where I come from, we still call them “she” and “her”, not because we’re just being polite about it, but because that’s who they really are, and we know that sometimes other issues get in the way of hormones and surgery and new wardrobes and changes to your mannerisms.
Whatever they look like, when they tell you they’re trans, respect that, and respect *them*. You don’t have to be friends with every trans person in the world, you don’t have to be like any other trans person in the world, and you don’t even have to agree with any other trans person’s choices of identity, expression, or orientation.
All you have to do, is let them be, and let them be them. You can still be, and you can still be you. They’re our brothers, sisters, and siblings, and for fuck’s sake, it’s the Transgender Day of Remembrance, today, so remember this: Our killers don’t give a fuck how well we pass when they want us dead. In fact, if anything, they tend to be even more dangerous and violent when we put so much effort into how we look that they think they’ve been “fooled” or “tricked”.
Your external appearance isn’t who you “are”, nor are the clothes or cosmetics you choose to wear, or not wear, as the case may be. You would think that trans people would be the first to grok that.
Howdy there! So, I’ve had a mohawk/shaved head quite a few times now, and I know the elusive lure of shaving a shape or word into it. I’ve done this multiple times, with designs ranging from a star to the Harry Potter logo. So here’s some pro tips for how to accomplish it:
1. First, you want to pick something relatively simple. For your first adventure, at least. (The first time I shaved something, I picked a plain five point star) Hair is a complicated medium, and if you start out by trying some complex fractal or a word in flourished tattoo script, you probably won’t get the results you wanted. Something to keep in mind: when shaving the design, the lines will have to be relatively think in order to show up, so many designs can end up looking chunky if you don’t plan ahead. If you’re doing a word, keep it under 5 letters or else it’ll be illegible or spill over.
2. You need to decide whether you want to shave this yourself, have a friend do it, or get it done professionally. DIY should only be for very simple designs and on a part of your head you can see completely clearly. With a friend, make sure you’re very clear on what you want, and that you trust them very much. If you get it done professionally, you NEED, let me repeat that, NEED to check ahead of time and make sure that your stylist has the proper tools and skills to do this. Many stylists, even the cool ones, don’t have the proper trimmers or haven’t done this before, and you might not want to be their guinea pig. Also, if you’re getting this done professionally, skip to number 4.
3. If you’re doing this yourself or with a friend, I’d suggest a Schick Quattro Trimmer (there are two types, the for-women ‘trimstyle’ and for-men ‘Titanium’. In a lovely display of over gendering and stupidity, these two models are exactly the same). This is what I use, and it should only set you back about 10 bucks. It’s about the smallest trimmer out there for the price - and make sure you use it without the guard.
4. As tempting as it is to have a clean, newly-shaved buzz before you set out to shave a design, you want it to have grown out for a little bit. First, this will make the design show up better. Second, that way if the design ends up looking god-awful you can just shave it away and try again.
5. Before you actually do the design, draw it onto your head in washable marker. Trust me on this one. Stencils slip and free-hand can lead to all kinds of messes. The marker will wash off, I promise.
6. When actually shaving: one, utilize the corner of the trimmer, it works great for small fixes; two, go very slowly and carefully, if you get ahead of yourself you could end up with a mistake; three, wipe away hair with a wet cloth often to make sure you’re getting a full view of what the design really looks like.
7. Shaving a design in your head is, by its nature, temporary. Hair will grow out. But if you decide you wanna keep the design, maintenance is possible. Just use a longer guard to re-shave your head, then use the trimmer to re-do the design.
Hope this helps! If you have any further questions or need more tips on shaving or hair dye or hair cutting, direct them to my personal tumblr, HopeForSnakes
(for everyone who’s been asking, this excellent post provided by my friend - Jay)