I have noted a number of fellow dressers who keep facial hair, and the mixed feelings they have about it. I thought I would add an article about my own experiences and feelings in hope that it might be of some interest.
Growing up in the 60’s it isn’t surprising I developed an eye for short dresses and nylon clad legs. In my teen years I secretly tried on pantyhose and a dress, and although I really enjoyed it, I followed my conservative upbringing and gave it up. I finished high school and went away to college, where I decided to exercise my facial follicles and grow a beard. I discovered I liked the way I looked and kept it. I finished college, got a good job away from home, got married and started a family. I also got involved in the hobby of Civil War Reenacting. Ten years later, I changed careers, moved back to my home area and settled in.
All this while, I never completely rid myself of the urge to wear feminine clothes. The most I did was occasionally buy a pair of pantyhose to slip on secretly or, very rarely, underdress. The urge never left, and I still wanted to experience dressing, and seeing what I might look like as a woman. I still regarded it as a vague fantasy or a passing whim, so I never discussed those feelings with anyone.
I continued to experiment when the opportunity presented itself, but always regarded it as a weakness or flaw in myself. Then I discovered an online forum and felt a rush of excitement in the realization that there were other people who felt as I did, and acted on it. I eventually got pantyhose, shoes, bra, panties, and a dress. Although I was still bearded, I was greatly enjoying the feeling of dressing feminine, and took digital photos with my face cropped out.
For the next several years I followed the cycle of acquire, dress, shame and purge. In time, I made peace with myself about dressing and broke the cycle. I came to the understanding that it was harming no one, and it was interesting, exciting, and fun. I still had the unfulfilled desire to really transform to the appearance of a woman. I tried using digital apps and photo-shopping, and was encouraged by what I could do.
Then covid hit and I discovered that a mask could hide my facial hair. A decent wig and eye makeup came next and I had gone as far as I could take it. I was more than pleased with the results. I looked and felt feminine behind the mask and I explored it further and began building a wardrobe. I became so bold as to try venturing out dressed. I first went to an isolated park and walked around in plain sight of passing cars wearing a little black dress, patterned tights and wedges. Nothing happened – not dirty looks, ridicule, or otherwise. I did more outings, each time daring closer contact and even interactions. In one store I actually got a compliment!
In January of 2022 I got grudging approval to clean off the beard. I did it in stages over a few days, leading up to the moment of truth. For the first time in over 40 years I saw my clean shaven face, and was horrified! I saw a weak chin, turkey neck, and the beginning of jowls! Still, it would be worth it to see the real Geena. But even that did not turn out well, much due to my poor makeup skills. Disappointed in those results, I immediately set about growing it back.
Fortunately, I had taken plenty of photos and studied them frequently over the next few months. In October, when a CD friend offered to meet up for over 2 days, I shaved again (staging an ‘accident’ to explain it to the family). Being better prepared, I wasn’t so very shocked, and, thanks to my friend’s guidance in makeup, I looked much better as Geena. I was so encouraged by this outing that I stayed clean shaven for the next 4 months and enjoyed more than a few Geena outings, including eating out and making friends with members of the social group in Grand Rapids.
I have since grown the beard back since I am still active in Civil War Reenacting. I do harbor plans though, to clean it off in the fall for a repeat of last winter.
I am left with a dilemma, though. While I very much like the look I have accomplished for Geena, I still do not like my drab shaved appearance. I thought I would get used to it over the winter, but the best I managed was resigned acceptance. Now I like my appearance, but Geena is again masked which precludes a number of activities.
I believe I have arrived at a happy middle ground in which, over the course of a year, I can enjoy both my usual bearded appearance, and be able to be fully Geena. For the next few months I can do Geena, but masked, while enjoying my drab appearance. Come fall I can again break out the serious makeup and really be out as Geena again.