Escape from Limbo

My third laser appointment was today. Each appointment is spread out three to five weeks, and during those weeks I have no visible facial hair. Only on the night before the next appointment do I notice anything growing back, and it’s too little hair for anyone else to notice.

It’s as though I’m already finished with hair removal. I predicted my mental state would change once the hairs were gone. I foresaw my self-consciousness eroding. My desire to hide away from people would disappear. I wouldn’t feel covered in spiritual dirt.

All of these predictions came true. The change is more gradual than I envisioned, but that is not terribly surprising. I spent 20 years with embarrassing amounts of facial hair growing in plain sight. That’s not something you recover from overnight.

The miracle worker that’s performing this resurrection told me her own story of dealing with unwanted facial hair. This might surprise the bigots out there, but cis women struggle with facial hair, too. Even the feminist-identified ones. I usually only hear stories about hair removal from other trans women, and hear naysaying from transphobes.

It was refreshing to hear about a cis woman’s struggles with unwanted facial hair, and how freeing it is to be rid of them. Trans women deal with a lot of other baggage in addition to the facial hair, but other than that, our stories are the same. Don’t let the transphobes make you feel like your experience is a rare exception or a freakish oddity. We have far more in common than bigots would have us believe. After all, we’re all women. Of course there is overlap.

I once wrote about my experience with facial dysphoria. I am happy to report that, with the facial hair gone, it takes a lot less effort to see myself in the mirror. As long as I keep the right angle and lighting, all I have to do is look, and there I am.

If you have never struggled with dysphoria, you cannot understand how revolutionary it is to see yourself in the mirror without effort. I feel real. I don’t have to exert willpower to feel like I’m actually here. It’s as though I was trapped in Limbo—the Dungeons & Dragons Limbo, where forms constantly shift in and out of existence—and have finally escaped to the Prime Material Plane. I exist, and all I have to do to verify that fact is look in the mirror.

Existing takes getting used to. I feel overwhelmed. I don’t yet have words for a lot of what I feel. That was already a problem for me, so now it’s even harder to write about what’s going on inside me. These blog posts will probably be a mess for awhile. But I’ll adjust over time. Now that I don’t need willpower to simply exist, I hope to put that willpower to exciting new uses.

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