My home environment, though right now haunted by the final paper, due as late as May 16th, I have not yet turned in, is overwhelmingly more conducive to all forms of critical and creative thought than MHC was, if only because it acts as a change of scenery. I sit right now at my desk, a lemon mint leaf candle burning, the embroidery my partner made me at eye level, the Shabbos candles on my sill and waiting to be lit at nightfall. I have been reading and writing at an incredibly high rate lately, somewhat in quantity but really, mostly, in quality. I’m finally giving myself a more-extended break on thesis writing and focusing again on reading and note-taking, allowing myself the space to percolate instead of rushing everything immediately to the page. Some of my current reads for thesis-ing are Love Poem to Androgyny and Unbound. I’m re-reading Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation.
The first title, in particular, is really challenging the way I’ve been unthinking the continuity among transbutch narratives: I almost feel a twinge of fear when I relate too hard to a particular narrative, poem or set of poems, or even academic study, because my thesis argument rests on the idea that much narrative and experiential continuity has been manufactured, rather than having always existed inherently (and diagnosably) in transbutch bodyminds. At the same time, the challenge is joyful and the narrative, while tenderizing my heart like a steak*, is necessary to look at in relation to the transbutch “canon”, so to speak, with Stone Butch Blues being the quintessential referent and carrier of transbutch experience.
So, I’ll continue to let that thought buzz around my head, as the bugs buzz outside my window, whose blinds can now be widened to let in the light. Yet it would seem (I attempt to smoothly change subjects) like the buzzing within my head and around the house has replaced the buzzing of my hair, which has not happened since spring break. I am conflicted about my hair at the moment. I have had it short for most of my life –– shoulder-length or above from ages zero to seven and then ten until now. Since age thirteen my hair has not reached the nape of my neck. Although “then-closeted transbutch cuts off hair as a rejection of femininity” is a convenient narrative, it’s not mine. It wasn’t femininity I didn’t want (although many elements of it I could have and still could (have) do(ne) without) but a rejection of the hair itself.
My hair in its natural state is thick, frizzy, and grows outward rather than downward; has broken combs and elastics and hearts. I had no use for a hair routine that, if done correctly, could easily take up two or more hours of my day on its own. This may not seem like much to those whose passion is haircare or even personal/beauty care, but for reference, I opened my eyes at 6:45 this morning for my doctor’s appointment and was on the road at 7:06. My preferred “useless” activities are writing blog posts and bad poetry and snippets of long and short stories I’ll someday have the time to write, not makeup, skincare, or hair, and thus I am both ignorant to and slightly in awe of the complexity of each.
Back to the hair: my clearest memories of the hair are 1) being a young child and crying in the tub after interminable periods of shampooing and deep conditioning performed by my mother 2) getting both “natural” keratin and later chemical treatments to artificially straighten it 3) being that I lacked the time and money for constant treatments, pulling the mess into a ratty ponytail that looked as if it was pulled from the Halloween store on November 1st and 4) a highly unfortunate period in early middle school in which I coated in product and then sprayed-til-solid, treating every strand as a state in one nation (that is, helmet), under gel, indivisible, etc. etc.
By this time I’ve improved my humor significantly about the hair fiasco that was my childhood, and it is for that reason that I fear I’m staving off my (“inevitable”) next buzz in the misplaced hopes of regrowing my hair, just long enough to make a nice man-bun, which I envision with hearts in my eyes as a tight knot of hair, held high or low depending on my preference, about the size of a cotton ball.
My partner has had their hair much like this before and I find it charming! But, it might not even be physically impossible for my hair to do. I was about to qualify that statement by saying “my hair has become straighter over the years”** but I have no recent memories of having enough hair to cast a judgement on, and the few times my hair has begun to grow, it has grown (as always) curlily, puffily, upward, outward. My hair at the moment sticks up like a reddish-blonde field of grass. How do you capture that in a bun?
Who knows. And who knows, even, if I’ll end up more dysphoric if and when the hair does get longer? I can’t not concede that part of what is fueling this experiment is a phrase I heard somewhere, that “masculine” (am I?) and “androgynous” TGNC people can sometimes “pass” (as what?) better with a mix of such things as a flat chest, low(er than what?) voice, and some element like long hair to confuse or counterbalance it. Given my present dissatisfaction with going unseen, and when seen, mis(s)interpellated, I’m more than willing to experiment with the assumptions people do and do not make about me as my hair lengthens. Then again, next time I write this, I might have been buzz-cut once more. Maybe the ideas in my head will have gotten onto paper. Maybe things will have happened despite present-me’s best efforts.
When I come back for my next post, I think I’ll talk about marking two years on (and off and on and off) testosterone, as in about two weeks, it’ll be the anniversary, and I’m making some changes and generally thinking more deeply about my relationship with testosterone, what I desire in/of it, and what it’s doing not specifically to my body but to my “individual” intra-actions (is it really individual when you amount to a “real”-“synthetic” hormone cyborg thing?).
* ~vegan attempts a meat metaphor, hopes it works out~
** insert tired, overused “but i’m not straight” joke here