Life in Transition


She saw her hair hanging from a tree

By Diana Goetsch | March 16, 2016
Lauren Rushing/Flickr
Lauren Rushing/Flickr


My hair has been coming back. In addition to estrogen and testosterone blockers, I’ve been taking a DHT inhibitor (DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, is the derivative of testosterone that causes male pattern baldness), Biotin to strengthen hair and nails, and Rogaine. I entertain no Rapunzel dreams, but I’m hoping for enough regrowth to be a candidate for a transplant, and just maybe avoid wigs for the rest of my life.

I hate wigs. They give me headaches and feel like a costume. In the summer you sweat under them, and in the winter you can’t put hats over them, lest you remove your hair with your hat. You need to be mindful of people who hug clumsily, and also of low branches. I know a trans woman who walked out from under her wig. When people started pointing she looked back and saw her hair hanging from a tree. In 1987 a boy on the A train swiped my wig from my head and threw it onto the platform as the doors were closing.

In the parade of female things I fixated on as a child, hair was first. Did girls with long hair have any idea how lucky they were? I’d search their faces in my second-grade class for expressions to confirm this. (It was hard to tell.) I still remember the hair of a woman who came to visit my mother at our house in Stony Brook, New York. I had no idea who she was; I only remember her silky black hair, and when its sheen caught the light something exploded in the back of my brain.

Lately I’ve grown envious again of hair, and not just on women. Sometimes I’ll see a man with a particularly good crop, and if it’s short I’ll imagine him growing it out, as I would if I had another chance. I admire other trans women blessed with robust heads of hair, and I ache with envy when I see a video of trans rocker Laura Jane Grace playing guitar in a park, her long hair blowing any way it wants. The curls that peek beneath the scarf I tie around my head before going to yoga—will they ever be that free?

Staring in the mirror each morning at terminal hairs sprouting amid baby-fine vellus, I hear in my head the narrator of those nature programs I watched as a kid: With the coming of the wet season, lush grass returns to the Serengeti Plains, and another cycle of life can begin … My once ghostlike hairline is solidifying, and a few rogue shoots have appeared out in front of it. They stand their ground, and wait for others.

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