This article provides a status update as to my own personal journey specific to facial hair removal, and it draws a parallel to girls going through menopause. I’m starting with the latter aspect.
Romantically, I’m only attracted to girls. I have fun with guys, including in bed — but the guy could never break my heart or give me butterflies in my tummy. The girls I date cover a wide age range. One lovely example is currently in her mid-60s, and she and I were in a romantic relationship for eight years, plus we were friends for many years before and after that romance too.
During that time, menopause was part of the relationship dynamic, and the same can be said for my relationship with one other romantic partner, too. As a trans girl, I can’t personally experience menopause, but my point is that I have sympathetically observed it at close range.
The lives of trans girls tends to be difficult and it’s tempting to feel sorry for ourselves. We so wish that we could be like genetically integrated girls, and we forget that every life has its pros and cons — and that the life of a genetically integrated girl is inherently no picnic. Menopause is part of the reason why.
Probably every reader of this article understands the nature and causes of menopause, so I’ll just summarize my understanding of it as being a set of biological changes that superficially appear to decrease femininity, with an emphasis on “superficially” because the fundamental brain structure of the girl was feminine when she was born, and remains so during her entire life. Menopause doesn’t change that. Fundamentally, she’s as feminine as before. But, along with other changes she experiences, her facial hair typically becomes more noticeable.
Ironically, trans girls tend to approach the facial-hair situation with the story line being played out in reverse. The process of transitioning (to living openly as the girls we fundamentally are, as in brain-wise) tends to start with lots of facial hair and tends to end with little or no facial hair.
Some aspects of biological femininity are the consequence of having female hormones, and taking them changes a trans girl’s body as such. Trans girl facial hair, however, doesn’t stop growing vigorously just because the girl starts taking feminizing hormones.
What does help, long-term, is waxing, laser hair removal, and electrolysis. I started my own transition when I was very broke, so lasering wasn’t viable even though I’d scraped together enough money to pay for one or two limited-coverage laser hair removal sessions. As far as I know, that did very little for me, and since I’m blonde, that’s not totally surprising. The darker one’s facial hair is, the more effective laser hair removal tends to be. So, that left only two options: waxing and electrolysis.
Waxing involved putting some hot sticky wax on my face, and then a strip of strong cloth over it, and ripping the cloth away, removing the hair all at once. That hurt so much that I once chipped a front tooth while biting down from the pain. But, at least the pain spanned a large amount of hair follicles, and it was short-lived. Over time, waxing caused my facial hair to thin out somewhat, and it did wonders to make my body hair thin out, including “down there.” However, at the rate that waxing was thinning out my facial hair, I might be a hundred years old and still trying to wax my facial hair into oblivion. I had to find a better way. Electrolysis was the answer.
It permanently destroys the hair follicles by super-heating each one, individually. The heat is so severe that it causes a searing pain that I, having been stung by a bee more than once, would equate to approximately the intensity of a bee sting. Until recently, that was more pain than I wanted to experience.
However, when my feminizing hormone-pill regimen was starting to show noticeable results as to reshaping my body, I also started to get acne along my jawline. My teenage years had been plagued by acne, so I really wasn’t looking forward to a re-occurrence of that. A friend of mine opined that, in her experience as a beautician, acne that’s concentrated along one’s jawline tends to be caused by hormonal issues. I also heard that acne tends to be focused on infected hair follicles.
So, it seemed logical to me that, if I get rid of the hair follicles, I’d also prevent acne from occurring. My dermatologist had already prescribed two not-that-cheap acne medications, to be taken over a long period of time. I decided to opt for electrolysis instead, and I’m glad I did. My acne vanished and it’s never come back.
When my electrolysis sessions began, I felt like there was a massively long period of pain, with very little appreciable sense of progress. The journey of a thousand miles might well begin with a first step, but I’m the sort of person who’d prefer to count the steps, to track progress. So, I asked my electrolysis lady to count out loud, as she was doing each follicle. That provided me with a sense of of progress.
The first hour and a half or so, she did just my upper lip, and counted 800 follicles or so just in that area. I was dismayed and very unhappy about the pain. Imagine, if you dare, the pain of a bee sting, every six seconds or so, spanning most of an hour and a half. I hated it, but I decided that if pain was reason to stop then I would simply stop then and there, and never start again. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who experienced that temptation.
My electrolysis lady has many stories and a good sense of humor, and she would sometimes tell tales of other clients, albeit anonymously. In the process she also taught me more about my own nervous system, including that the center part of my lips are serviced by two separate nerves, and twice as sensitive as a result. By implication, any hair follicles that she removes right by the center of my upper lip … they hurt much more than follicles not close to the center.
She told the story of a client whose upper lip she had been treating. The lady could barely stand the pain from having the sides of her upper lip done, but when it came to the center of her upper lip, it was just too painful. She said “no more” and so she left, essentially with a tiny mustache remaining on her upper lip. somewhat reminiscent of the mustache of a very unpleasant person who dominated German politics in the 1930s. Honestly, I could relate to the temptation to get up and leave, regardless of the aesthetic consequences.
There was the option of numbing cream, but I simply couldn’t afford it, so I just endured the pain. I also couldn’t afford to go every week, but even so, progress was steady. About eight months into it, the hair on my upper lip was down to less than a few dozen.
The reason why the hair count diminishes as opposed to dropping immediately to zero once and for all, is that hair follicles grow in cycles, and electrolysis is only effective on hair follicles during a particular part of their growth cycle — and it’s not evident which growth cycle is applicable. So, every follicle gets treated, and causes pain, but not every follicle dies. So, it’s a battle of attrition, over time.
In any particular week, my electrolysis lady might focus on part of my face, such as my chin, and the next week she might focus on my neck, in front. I asked her to focus on the aspects that most bothered me personally: my upper and lower lips, and my chin. Soon, I didn’t need to shave those areas between sessions. It felt wonderful.
Next came the area near my ears and the front part of my neck, then my cheeks and my jawline, and the sides of my neck. But, every visit, it was always a question of picking one or two — or a few — areas on which she would focus. There wasn’t enough time or money to focus on anything more, because there’s a limit to how many follicles she can remove in an hour, and there were simply too many.
And yet … things kept improving.
So, by now it’s mid-January 2018, and this week saw a milestone: my session was only one hour long, and yet my electrolysis lady was able to cover my entire neck, jawline and face, because there were so few hairs remaining, because so much had been permanently destroyed. I’m delighted to report that!
I plan to be back every week, to win the battle decisively over the next few weeks. New hair growth is less painful to remove, and the process is almost certain to be effective, so that’s the best time to destroy the follicles – just as they’re coming out, and we know they’re just coming out because a week ago, there was nothing to be seen. I’m happy!