its-not-the-beard-on-the-outside-that-counts-its-the-beard-on-the-insideI once swore that I would grow a big bushy fisherman’s beard once in my life, just because I could. Sadly, nearly three years of testosterone has failed to nudge the follicle pixies into action, and what scrawny facial hair I have would never make it onto a Fisherman’s Friend advert.

I have hair on my stomach, hair on my shoulders, even hair on my chest (if you squint hard…) but my face remains, for the most part, silky smooth with a hint of fluff. I see pictures of guys who have what I would call ‘proper’ man hair within a few months of starting T, and I am filled with envy. Even a teensy bit of bitter resentment. So why not me? And why does it matter?

Perhaps I should clarify here – when I said ‘for the most part’ silky smooth, I didn’t admit to the wiry growths sprouting from the lower part of my chin. Little clumps of hair that need chiselling off my chin, rather than shaving, and which resolutely refuse to join together into anything that might be recognised as a beard. I am surprisingly fond of my chin hair, to the point of not wanting to shave it off at all, rather letting its wiry strands form into some sort of portable art installation. It’s not that I don’t think it will come back (it does, in record time) but because this is one of the few things I have that hints at masculinity. Of course, many women have facial hair, so it probably doesn’t help me out that much, but I like to think that someone trying to work out whether Mark is short for…Markaret?…or not, might be swayed by my luxuriant chin sprouts.

I don’t come from a particularly hairy family, so genetically I am not predisposed to looking like Blackbeard. I didn’t start testosterone until I was nearly 40, so that may also count against me. Let’s face it, I am just me, and just like everything else in transition, it’s silly to play compare and contrast with anyone else. I am mostly very happy with who I am and how I look, and that, folks, is all that matters. HOWever, my lack of facial hair, combined with my (still) rather high-pitched voice, does make it hard for me just to fade into the background. I don’t like to stick out, and looking and sounding unusual for a man does become tiresome.

I may never be able to grow my fisherman’s beard, but I’d love to be able to manage a funky goatee. Or even a soul patch. Basically something that looks deliberate. As I mentioned earlier, it is mostly (though not all) those who identify as men who grow, and style, facial hair. I like to think that fewer people would misgender me if I have a ‘tache.

So what to do? I shave off the wiry bits, and the fluff, reasonably regularly, as I understand that this may finally persuade the follicle pixies to wake up and smell the Brut. I eat healthily, take my testosterone like a good boy, and short of going back in time and changing my entire genetic heritage, I don’t think there’s a lot else to do. Transition is a waiting game, and I may just have to buckle down and be patient. Or I could cheat and persuade one of the cats to sit permanently on my chin…