By the time I was ready to become female, I had accepted that a woman’s hair helps define who she is. Practical, slutty, sophisticated (or maniacal, as the case may be), we ladies use our hairstyles to manifest our inner image.
During my first year I went through a lot of hairstyles. Like a science fiction movie creature, my hair morphed and churned through umpteen phases of womanly transmutation from Marilyn Monroe to Donna Reed to Pat Benatar. Some of the styles which I sported were the equivalent of wearing a giant foam cheese slice on my head, and I expected to be taken seriously. (Sorry, Green Bay, but… honestly!) Merciful people preserved my dignity by looking away, but the meaner ones pointed and laughed. I was not earning a passing grade.
Through trial and error, I made slow progress. Passersby began to respond with authentic smiles, flirty winks, and best of all indifference. I say that because indifference meant I was blending in. A girl wants to be noticed, but if it is a choice between indifference and a freak show, she will take indifference all day long. Then, much to my dismay, a breeze would stir or the sun would appear. And my fake hair would betray me. Once again, I had to endure giggles and grimaces or worse
Deciding to seek professional help, I did my research and learned of shops who catered to gender nonconforming guys like me. It was a happy day when I discovered Gia’s Wig Shop. Gia’s shop quickly became my first destination when preparing for that “Big Night Out”.
My visits frequently reminded me of the Emerald City scene from The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy and the guys, dirty and tired from a hard journey, are “freshened up” by a jaunty crew.
Pat, pat here, pat, pat there
And a couple of brand new straws
That’s how we keep you young and fair
In the Merry old land of Oz!
New straw for the Scarecrow, fresh polish for the Tin Man… and new hair-dos for Dorothy, the Lion and Toto. It’s pretty much the same when Gia gets someone in that special chair of hers and does magical things with her brushes and scissors. A snip here, a back-comb there, a spray and a fluff. And voila! A passable woman takes the place of that clumsy crossdresser.
Soon, however, I found that I wanted more. Not even Gia could disguise the weird permanent curl of synthetic hair, nor that unnatural polyethylene shine. I decided to go all out and buy Evie some real human hair. Taking the plunge, I scheduled an appointment with Gia. Sitting in Gia’s chair while she installed my new wig, I was a postulant awaiting the long desired bestowal of holy garments. And it was with similar reverence that my new hair was received. I stared at my reflection in the mirror, hardly daring to believe that this woman was me. “God, it’s… it’s beautiful! Oh… and it feels so nice.” My hands caressed the dark brown tresses that were already a part of me.
That afternoon I wore my new wig to the mall. From previous experience, I had become an expert in detecting that “wait a minute — are you a man?” type of side glance. Just a week earlier, I had received a few of those from female shoppers in that very mall. Women tend to be sensitive to subtle differences in appearance, and synthetic hair may be tantamount to a neon sign. Now, I passed among my adopted sisters, apparently unnoticed. And then I received the biggest compliment of all.
“Excuse me… Excuse me, ma’am?” I thought the woman must be speaking to a different ma’am, but she hurriedly approached me, clipboard clutched to chest. “Good afternoon, ma’am.”
I slowed my pace. “Yes?” I said, as she flanked me.
“Hi, we’re interviewing working mothers for a survey on household products.” She spoke quickly but made full eye contact with me – no pause, no recoil. “I was thinking you would be perfect for our study. Did I guess right?”
I wanted to hug her. I nodded my head to confirm her guess. I was a working parent, after all.
“Ah, I thought so. Would you have time to…”
“I’m sorry, but I’m really late. But thank you anyway.” I hurried off. No sense in spoiling my victory by giving her too much exposure to my basso profundo voice!
Since that momentous day, I have accumulated four human hair wigs. Each one expresses a different facet of my inner self, and each one affirms the authenticity of that self. To paraphrase a popular saying, “Once you have real, you never go back.”
Adapted from “The Crossdresser’s Field Guide”, by Evie David Marks.