Over the last few years I’ve been exploring ways to express my feminine side, even though I have had to spend most of my time in ‘boy mode’. I’ve discovered there are a number of things that a transgender person can do to feel more feminine, without disrupting work or their social life (assuming one is in a situation where they must continue to present in ‘boy mode’). Here are the things I’ve learned along the way:
- Develop a skin care routine: I had no idea how much of an improvement my skin would see when I started washing my face twice a day (once in the shower, and once before I go to bed). Then by following up with some facial lotion (my favorite is Goodstuff Organics Facial Moisturizer). Even by doing these two things I have greatly reduced any acne or facial blemishes. To take things to the next level, I will occasionally use a Retinol cream, which helps smooth out pores.
- Wear Makeup: This might seem like a no-no, and certainly when I first started considering it I thought for sure people would notice. Most of my experience putting on makeup was very limited, and most of the time it was just at home where the goal was to cover my facial hair and appear as feminine as possible. Certainly if I was to wear makeup like this, people would notice, but what I discovered is that by applying a light layer of makeup that was matched to my skin tone that very few people noticed. The makeup just helped even out my skin tone and made me look healthier. I didn’t wear mascara or other makeup, just a very light layer of powder or foundation. The key is to start out extremely light, and then gradually get to a level that is comfortable for you. Add a little lip balm and you’ll have a much nicer, and slightly softer face.
- Grow out your hair: With a little patience, and a skilled hair stylist, you can have a longer hairstyle that is neither too feminine nor too masculine. Longer hair can help frame your face, and when in ‘girl mode’ you can make it look more feminine. Assuming your work allows longer hair, it can be a great way to change your look and allow for a more versatile range of expression. I highly recommend it!
- Get a hat: Covering your face from sun damage is one of the best things you can do to keep your face looking healthy and younger. Even if you don’t wear makeup at work, when you do decide to put on makeup it will take to your skin much better if your skin is healthy. Sun damages the skin, and your face and ears are some of the most sensitive areas for sun damage. When I’m going to be out in the sun for a while, I wear a hat, and keep my skin healthy. I wear one like this or this.
- Take care of your nails: I have started letting my nails grow just a little longer and have started trying to keep them in good shape. When I’m just staying around the house, or spending the day in ‘girl mode’ at home I will paint my nails – and I love it. But when I’m out and about I’ll usually take the nail polish off and just have nice looking natural nails. Longer nails are only a problem if they aren’t cared for, if dirt gets under the nail and isn’t cleaned, or if the nails aren’t shaped nicely. You can let them grow just a little longer than you normally would, and can make them a lot nicer for when you are in ‘girl mode’. Some transgender individuals will wear clear nail polish even when they are out at work. I’ve worn a neutral color out and about before and not gotten strange looks.
- Shave/Epilate: For me this is one of the most important things that helps me feel better. Just keeping my body hair to a more manageable level. For a long time I just shaved my legs, but eventually I made the switch to a Braun epilator. The first couple times you use an epilator it really hurts, so I just did a little each day for a week or 10 days or so. The thing is, once you get finished removing all the hairs the first time, the pain drops off a lot for future sessions. The huge advantage to epilating is that the hair doesn’t grow back for at least a week. I now epilate my legs, chest, and under arms. No matter how you choose to remove body hair, I’ve found that it really improves how I feel. Unless you have an excessive amount of body hair, you may want to consider doing this regularly.
- Shape your eyebrows: I’ve done this for the last couple years. When you do it for the first few times you have to be very careful, read some online tutorials about how to do this and then be very conservative in which hairs you remove. Take your time because once plucked your brows take a while to grow back and you can look like a real freak. But if you do it correctly, it can really help clean up and soften your look a little. The goal is to find a shape that works for your face, and that doesn’t look overly drastic. I’ve never had anyone comment about my eyebrows, but I can tell my face looks and feels better.
- Discover lotion: Putting lotion on your legs, arms, neck, chest, and other dry areas can really help you feel better. I usually will apply lotion a few times a week right before I go to bed. When I wake up this leaves my skin feeling soft and beautiful. If you are shaving or epilating applying lotion a few times a week will really improve your skin quality.
- See a doctor about taking finasteride or dutasteride: I started taking Avodart (dutasteride) and it lowered my libido slightly, helped reduce some body hair, and halted hair loss on my scalp. There are side affects to these drugs (such as sterility in some), but for me it did make a difference (only after taking it for more than 6 months.) If the risks are acceptable to you and/or your partner, this is one way to slow down the affects of testosterone on your body as you age. I prefer Avodart (dutasteride), but I can only afford it by getting my doctor to send my prescription to Canada and get it filled there. Explore your options if this interests you. Do not take herbs for feminization!
- Accept and embrace who you are: One of the single biggest things you can do is to stop running away from who you are; stop trying to hide your true self behind a wall of fake gender expression. For years I harbored negative feelings towards gay and transgender people – all because I couldn’t accept who I was. I’m not saying that one needs to immediately go from closeted to openly transgender (I am not fully out yet), but I’ve experienced a huge boost in my quality of life since accepting who I am, and accepting others for who they are. No longer am I going to pretend to go along with hate speech against gays and transgender individuals – hiding behind discrimination not only hurts others, but hurts me too. I don’t get into shouting matches with people, but when I hear something that is hurtful I’ll let people know, “hey, I don’t feel that way.” The earth is made stronger through diversity – it’s important to embrace this, it will drastically improve your quality of life.
This is just a starting list of a few things I’ve been able to do to help myself feel more feminine while still living my life in boy mode most of the time. I’d love to hear your ideas about things you’ve discovered that can help you express yourself, and yet not disrupt your life (assuming it would be a disruption for you). Please share!
Image Credit: snowkei