Tuesday, January 23, 2007

man of disrepute

So, the lesson I learned on Friday is that three days is no longer an acceptable amount of time for me to go without shaving. It has been okay in the past- three days worth of my stubble has just meant that I'm vaguely scruffy, in a can't-quite-put-your-finger-on-it kind of way that becomes clear once I shave and my face returns to smooth clarity. But I think two days is my new limit before I start to look pretty gross, since my beard, such as it is, grows fastest and heaviest on my neck, and sort of fades upward from there. It's coming along nicely along my jaw, but hasn't made significant progress up my cheeks, nor certainly to my upper lip yet. So I end up with weirdly dark neck stubble, and a vaguely fuzzy face, and dude, that's just not cool. So definitely shaving every other day from now on, until the day comes (next spring? summer?) when I think things might be solid enough to try actually growing out a reasonable beard.
It's funny, a year or so ago I used to watch other guys all the time, trying to get a feel for what they were wearing, how they were moving, interacting with the world. Not quite taking notes, but definitely evaluating and learning and comparing their masculinities to my own, theirs (presumably!) having been taught since birth and practiced for years, whereas my own much more nascent manhood still felt like it needed some work. I don't do that so much now- much more comfortable moving in my own skin, thanks in no small part to my chest surgery- but I do subtly (I hope!) evaluate other guys and their facial hair. Up close I look for growth patterns and bald spots, or the line where they've ended their beards on their necks, or the angle at which they've allowed their sideburns to fall down their cheeks. Everybody has something slightly different going on, and it's interesting to observe...even without my personal stake in it, it's neat to see the different choices that people make about their own grooming. I'm trying to remember, too, that patience is not just a virtue but a necessity, that I've been at this less than a year, that I'll be bearded before I know it.
Yesterday was apparently Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007, and I missed it! Alas. I'm vehemently pro-choice, and I think it's important and elucidating to examine some of the connections between reproductive freedom and trans health. Both have so much to do with self-agency, and control over one's own body in a medical setting. I'm not arguing for total deregulation of abortion or medical transition, but actually, I'm uncomfortable with the semantics there. I don't want to see regulation but rather support and infrastructure. I think the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care are useful when used as guidelines and to support and inform people- both trans folks and health care providers. It doesn't seem to me (though I've never had one) that abortions are very often a good option, and so I think appropriate information and counseling and access to birth control methods and information is necessary. Abortions are often a needed option, but they seem a hard choice for anyone to need to make, and I wish that reproductive rights weren't so curtailed and stigmatized (why aren't there free condoms easily available in high schools, for instance?) such that abortion is made more necessary. Likewise, I don't think that the SOC should be used as set in stone thresholds that trans folks have to prove themselves by- that sets up gatekeeping along too many lines of identity (for non-binary or transition-track or 'classic transsexual' trans folks) or access (for folks who don't have the time or money to find a therapist and an endocrinologist and an amenable judge, all in the right order) or body (folks who don't pass frequently enough to make a "real life experience" necessary, or who don't want to modify their bodies in the way prescribed by the SOC). That said, transition is (perhaps I should say can be? Let's just say that mine has been) tumultuous, and at times difficult, and it's been useful to have support and information and an infrastructure, some of which has been provided to me by the folks at Callen Lorde who use the SOC as guidelines. So, yeah. Infrastructure and information good, denial of access or free choice bad.

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