Down and Out in the Deep South

Having expected a beyond-awkward reception at my parents’ place, and having been in fact overwhelmed at the effort they both made to recognise and respect my new name and gender, I settle back into the Deep South (Cardiff) with a sense of regret and wistful longing. The Shetland Islands may be distant from any gender identity clinic, but they would certainly be a friendlier place to embark upon my social transitioning than this fairly large and scary city, full of people who will be glad of any excuse to plant a fist into my foundation-smeared face… The phytoestrogen supplements, against all expectations, continue to give me breast pain which I can but hope is indicative of a more womanly figure in the offing, but I do wish my face would also soften, not to mention stop sprouting coarse black hair as if its life depended on it. Being able to pass subtly and with a minimum of effort would feel more wonderful than I can well describe, but is probably way off yet, so I must trust to my elementary makeup and hairdressing skills and try to look as little like a clown as possible.

Ah well, since a day without any progress towards my cherished vision is anathema, I have requested some laser hair removal sessions as a birthday gift, hoping thus to finally blast some of my black facial fuzz into Hair Heaven. For anyone considering similar treatments, the fruits of my research so far (on the LGBT facebook community) have yielded the following:

1. Electrolysis

Old form of treatment (well over a century), completely effective, in which each hair follicle is killed one at a time with a tiny electric probe. Obvious disadvantage: it takes until the Crack of Doom to clear any sizeable area, so best reserved for finishing off small and stubborn areas. For larger areas…

2. Laser

Uses focused wavelengths of light to cauterize large areas of follicles. Most effective on dark hair, as the pigment conducts the energy. Takes a few sessions, though, as it only clears active follicles (Others will activate to replace the dead ones, until the whole area is cleared). Still the best way to deal with many all at once, though sessions have to be spaced weeks apart to avoid skin damage. Effective but painful. Can also be expensive, though Groupon carries discounted packages (generally only for new clients, though). Not to be confused with…

3. IPL

Occasionally mis-sold as laser, but is a different treatment that allegedly uses pulsed light to degrade follicles less painfully than laser, but also much less effectively and with no guarantee of permanent results. Home machines are also sold with this capability, but it is generally advised (and probably very sensibly so) to resist the urge to buy one of these ray guns and point it at your own face…

Laser followed by electrolysis is generally considered to be the best route to take, and certainly the one I would like to follow.

In other news, I have come out to my local union branch rep, who will now “out” me to my managers with a view to making sure my gender and new name are acknowledged in the workplace. Not only is this a necessary part of social transitioning, but I find it is necessary for my peace of mind as well. Living in a disguise has lost any charm and mystery it ever had. Not that it will make much practical difference, as I will wear the same old overalls as before. I only hope I will presently have something to conceal in them…

At all events, the branch rep was extremely supportive and considerate, as indeed most people have been ever since I first came clean about my pathology. It is heartening to know this, as I have truly had very little trouble in gaining respect and being treated with consideration. People may occasionally forget and call me “Anthony” or “he”, but so far no-one has deliberately misgendered me out of malice or self-righteousness, and that counts for everything. In fact, everyone so far seems more than happy to help me climb out of my old cocoon, painful though the process often is (and difficult for everyone), and begin my strange rebirth without judgement, disapproval, or ridicule. Faith in humanity, massively restored.

On the minus side, I still have heard nothing about the psychiatric referral, and it has been over a fortnight since I saw my GP. Faith in government bureaucracy, falling by the second… but I will try to stay positive. I know I will be waiting a lot longer than that when (or if) I am at last referred to the Gender Identity Clinic.

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