Understand from the outside.

Someone wrote…

I wish people would realize how much it hurts me for them to say I would look better with long hair, or how much it hurts when they beg me not to cut my hair again. I just can’t explain to them what it means to me to make my exterior look more like how I perceive my gender. It’s something you can’t really understand from the outside.

What’s your experience?

And what are you thinking about gender right now?

Posted by on July 13th, 2009 at 08:00 am

Category: your voice 19 comments »

19 Responses to “Understand from the outside.”

  1. Bliz

    I'm completely with you on this one. I had really really long hair at my mother's behest until I cut it to my shoulders for high school. While I enjoyed that, it wasn't perfect, and I recently cut it very, very short and I've never been happier. I took one big step toward making my exterior match how I feel on the interior. But I get all the same feedback from my mom that you seem to be getting. My friends go both ways. I'm completely with you, and I'm glad I'm not the only one.


  2. Rory

    Yeah =\\ I get that all the time from my mom. Annoying because I feel so much more secure and confident this way and yet she'd rather see me with long hair and feeling all awkward!


  3. Jane

    I feel very fortunate that my mother understands, if not understands she accepts, my desire to keep my hair short and my attempts to appear gender neutral. My Dad only knows that I think short hair is cute. My co-workers tell me that I should grow my hair out, which is frustrating (though it doesn't hurt), because you can't really easily explain wanting to be gender neutral to co-workers without turning into "that weird person" and seeming different. =/


  4. themarxistbagel

    Wow, I'm kind of lucky to have read this now. I also had really long hair as a kid, and I cut mine when I graduated from university, and it's been short-ish since. It's grown out a bit (to my shoulders) and it's driving me insane. However, everyone I live with hounds me on a daily basis (literally!) to keep my hair this length, because "It really, really suits you. So much more than the other style." "It grew out! Great, you look much better." "If you were my girlfriend, I'd want you to keep you hair like that." I was battling about whether or not to cut it when I checked genderfork. Lifesaver. :)


  5. limuh

    Yes, yes, yes! Oh dear merciful celestial teapot, same here. I am actually rather notorious for letting my hair grow out (it grows really fast and I can never be bothered to go to a hair-cutter) and then suddenly hacking it all off — much to most's bewilderment. Every time it starts growing out again, the more I start being annoyed by it, the more I hear how nice I look now, how much more feminine, how better it frames my face. My mother is by far the most insistent — but then, she continuously tries to get me to change my "style" altogether. How do I explain that I feel better, feel stronger, feel more defined and more *me* in a buzz-cut than anything else (not to mention it's none-maintenance)? It doesn't seem to get through. As if "but it's SHORT!" was some sort of absolute. Luckily a select few friends tell me I look best in my preferred 'do… though honestly, I'm just stubborn enough not to budge even if I didn't have them (but it's indescribably reassuring).

    All of you who hesitate — do what feels right to you! And screw the opposition. What do they know, anyways?


  6. FireboltX

    I’ve always kept my hair very short. My parents don’t have a problem with it but it seems like many other people do. I don’t care because this is how I feel comfortable. I love my faux-hawk and so does my Mom. ^_^


  7. Sheik

    I like my hair short, for sure, but it seems like the shorter it is (to a point obviously) the more time I actually spend on it. I used to wake up, comb out, and go, but now I wake up, comb out, style, fuss, and go.


  8. Andy_lsg

    Oh my. I could have written that one. Thanks.


  9. Kab

    I've had my hair at every length from shaved right off to long enough that it hurt when I sad down if I forgot to move my hair out the way first…shaved bald is comfortable for me, forget what other people say, comfortable is comfortable.

    The first thing I thought of when I read that quote was my chest. I've been planning surgery for years and people keep telling me what they think I should do…I feel the same about that and I wanted to say thank you for articulating what I could not.


    Maddox replied:

    I have been having the same experience. I even had a plastic surgeon that was recommended by my doctor tell me that I had such a beautiful feminine figure that I would look "wrong" if I had top surgery. Do what you feel is right for you and good luck.


    Kab replied:

    Ugh, yeah, tell me about it, if I had a quid for every time someone had told me that my figure was too nice to spoil I'd have saved up enough for the surgery by now! And don't you worry about me not doing it because of what others say, I'm a stubborn son of a bitch! :oP


  10. Maddox

    I totally relate to this post. But it's not really about hair for meI totally relate to this post. But it's not really about hair for me, but about other people, particularly cisgender people, feeling that they can stand in as an authority on what your identity is. When the cisgender people in my life tell me "you look better with long hair" or "you look prettier when you put make-up on" they are not only commenting on my looks but are revealing their own discomfort with my non-conforming gender identity. What looks more attractive to them is a look that conforms to their perception of what my identity should be (i.e. the identity that matches my assigned sex at birth). One reason so many of us feel so hurt when someone makes comments on our hair (as is apparent by some of the other posts) is that are identities are being negated these comments. We are being told that we don't really know what is right for us, or in turn, who we are. It is frustrating and maddening when people in my life are incapable of understanding who I am or what I desire from them as friends and instead act as authorities on and gatekeepers to gender. I am thankful for this site for creating a forum for people to share experiences as well as linking us to photography that shows gender variant and queer people as the beautiful unique people we are. Sorry I had such a long response :)


  11. FTMango

    ditto. my mom always had me in a pixie cut when i was a kid and thought it was cute when people thought i was a boy…at what point did she change her mind?

    and amen kab on the chest. how misogynist for anyone to judge a womn on the right to self govern something as personal as the body.


  12. Victor

    Thank you. It hurts coming from parents. I have found it hurts just as much coming from husbands/wives. How do you take it that you are willingly doing something that you know makes you "less" attractive in their eyes? I want to cry now. Thank you, someone else said it.


  13. Doodle

    Thank you, dear original poster for articulating why it upsets me so much.

    And Victor: my boyfriend used to say the same thing. Until he said it one day and I broke down in tears and explained why it hurt when he said that. He said he was just talking idly and didn’t realise why I was cutting my hair. Why I *had* to do it, to keep myself sane. Now he does. Now he notices when I’ve put wax in and compliments me on it. Try explaining – it might help.


  14. Anonymous

    it happens to me too. mine’s grown out, but i miss it being short. all of my straight female friends tell me to keep it, keep growing it out. but i’m pretty much just waiting til i have enough money to go get it cut the way i’m more comfortable. plus, my girlfriend likes it short =]

    also, whenever i feel like wearing a skirt, or putting on make up, my mom never hesitates to tell me that i look like a “real person”. it hurts so much when she says that. but i haven’t a clue how to even begin explaining why to her.


  15. Bhikku

    When I completely shaved my head last fall on a whim(after having long hair for years), my mom cried for three days. I may as well have murdered her daughter.

    But I loved it (the haircut, not the abysmally awkward social circumstances that followed).

    It’s grown out a lot since then, but now that it’s getting warm again and the temptation to shave it gets stronger, it makes me sad to hear my mother constantly say things like, “I love your hair now that it’s growing out” and “Please don’t cut your hair again!”

    Shaving my head made me feel more like myself than anything I’ve ever done. I hate that the fear of disappointing my family has taken that liberty away from me.

    One thing is for certain – it’ll probably never be “long” again. Having short hair is the closest I can come to expressing my lack of gender in a way that people can understand…


  16. SEM

    I’m right there with you! Back when I had long hair I’d always keep it in a ponytail, and whenever I let it down people would beg me to keep it down, I looked so much prettier (something I’m not sure I want to be). One day, 4-5 years ago, I kept two parts in front long (that I now braid) and chopped off the rest. I love it. It is me. I can’t imagine getting rid of the braids anymore than I can imagine letting the rest grow out. Thankfully most everyone I run into likes it and thinks it’s really cool. I think if people started asking me to grow it out again I might cry, and I don’t think I could explain why to them.


  17. A

    There’s a boy I know who says that he won’t let me cut my hair for a year. And then he acts surprised when I say I won’t date him. Dude, not only am I into chicks, but you’re pretty much telling me I’m unattractive when I try to look like myself. (And yes, he knows I’m genderqueer.)

    I wish people wouldn’t be so disrespectful. Not only is it insulting that they think I’m unattractive with a style that I love, but it’s hurtful that even those who know my gender try to get me to be something I’m not.


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