Canada·Blog

Lara Rae: changing gender can get pretty hairy

I'm feeling pretty hot right now. But that's only because a laser has been burning my face. Part of trying to look glamorous is looking glabrous — that is, having skin that is free of hair.

From head to toe, hair can be a big issue for someone transitioning genders

Laser hair removal damages the hair follicle and prevents regrowth without harming the surrounding skin. (Dr. Braun / Flickr)

I'm feeling pretty hot right now. But that's only because a laser has been burning my face.

Part of trying to look glamorous is looking glabrous — that is, having skin that is free of hair.

Living half a century with more testosterone in my body than estrogen has made my hair grow in a male pattern. Over the years some comes off the top and some mysteriously pops up elsewhere.

When I complete the main phase of my hormone therapy three years from now, my hair will be much lighter and downier, but it will never stop growing on my face. Not on its own, at least.
Living half a century with more testosterone than estrogen has made my hair grow in a male pattern - but laser treatment is changing that. (Lara Rae)

Twenty or 30 years ago, my only option would have been electrolysis, a painful, expensive treatment that removes hairs one by one. Today, most people opt for laser treatments that penetrate into the skin and target the melanin in the root of the hair.

The laser feels like a hot match held to my face 15 or 20 times a session. After six of these tortures, most of the non-grey hairs on my chin and upper lip will fall out forever.

Hair removal might not be a full-time job, but it's at least one part-time shift a week. (Lara Rae)
But what about the hair above my chin and upper lip? The decrease in testosterone and the increase in estrogen means that my receding hairline could reverse course. Unfortunately, results vary, and it's quite unlikely at 52 years old I'll see the return of my teenage goldilocks. 

Then there are the legs. When I first started transitioning this summer, I shaved my legs … or as I called it, giving blood.

When it comes to my underarms, I take the au naturel, continental approach. I have no interest in slicing open a main artery.

I've become as obsessed with hair removal as an ancient Roman senator. Hair removal might not be a full-time job, but it's at least one part-time shift a week.

All this work and money, just to pass in public as hairless female higher primate.

I'm beginning to think changing your gender must have been easier 70,000 years ago. I think I would have been quite a stylish female homo erectus.


Lara Rae is charting her journey in a new syndicated column, airing Mondays on CBC Radio One. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lara Rae

Columnist

Lara Rae is a stand-up comic, comedy writer and the former artistic director of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

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