Balding is a universal fear for all men.
My hair started thinning and receding within the first year of taking HRT. About two years or so into medically transitioning, my then-provider wanted to halve my injection dose because she thought I was losing my hair too fast—luckily I had pictures of my father on me, to show this runs in my family.
The science is more complex than we’re usually presented, but the cliché is you inherit the genetics for balding from your mother’s side. This means that these genes are on your X chromosome. Being born with a XX (not XY) pair, I could have inherited my baldness genes from either parent, but I’m guessing I inherited this from my dad based on how my hair thinned and receded, who inherited it from his mother—thus, through my paternal grandmother’s side.
I’ve been asked why not take Rogaine or Propecia to stave off the increasing hair loss. If I have ever considered hair plugs, wigs, and ”natural” remedies like rubbing onion juice onto my scalp. OTC medicines require constant application (if not pricey purchases) to remain effective—the side effect of raised blood pressure is what really turned me off. Quality, custom-fitted wigs can run hundreds or thousands of dollars. Natural ”remedies” haven’t been consistently shown to be effective, and are something I’m not willing to waste money or time trying.
Like many other balding guys today, rather than try to hide my baldness, I chose to embrace my chrome dome. I choose to shave my head on a regular basis—usually about twice, sometimes thrice per week—to maintain a clean look.
I have previously endorsed a local, independent barber for years as a butchie, but when she found out I chose to live as a man, she was open with her transphobia, so I chose to stop going. (Sadly, she is one of the best barbers in our area, and one of the few to also trim and maintain beards.) I have tried other men’s-catering chains, but often the hairdressers were too flirty, or the barbers left noticeable patches. I would later just bum off my dad and use his buzzing gear; but when he was gone on one of weeks’ long tours and brought the gear with him, I’d be left with nothing and just let my hair grow, leaving me look scruffy and unkempt.
During my time in Missoula, I bought a razor from Skull Shaver (not endorsed nor an affiliated link), and now subscribe to getting a fresh head every month—at about $23 after taxes each month, that’s far cheaper than going weekly or fortnightly to maintain a clean-shaved look. (Their razors and heads all interchange with each other; the cheap $40 model I got, the Palm, does the same exact job as their $100+ models. You may definitely want to purchase a different blade depending on your hair type, thickness, and growth speed.) They’re all good for dry or wet shaving, and can be taken into the shower.
I don’t have a lot to maintain, so a basic three-ring head (as opposed to their more expensive 5-ring models) will easily last between deliveries. The ergonomic design of the razor makes it easy to use around my head from multiple positions; with each blade ring able to independently bend to contour with my head’s shape, these two factors produces a clean, smooth shave more easily than traditional shavers, without the risk of nicks and bleeding that even safety razors can produce. There’s also a little vacuum to suck up the shaven hairs, which greatly reduces cleanup time. I can also easily detach the head to clean and remove any leftover hair strands.
I still use a safety razor to shave my face on days where I may have facial fuzz but don’t need to shave my head, to prolong the razor’s battery life.
This doesn’t mean my daily showers are any quicker, as my showers are also therapeutic for me.
Probably the best things about balding are that it’s a sign that body has masculinized these past seven years, and that it erased the lingering signs of trichotillomania (hair-pulling) I endured when I was post-partum. No risk of lice, no more issues with dandruff. The balding has already happened, and thus not something I have to worry about anymore. No more worries about constantly having to style and adjust a hairstyle through out the day (and while I spend money on razor heads, it’s far less expensive than constant haircuts and style goop!). And it gives me an excuse to wear snapbacks and beanies for any time of year!
There are still downsides to balding; my head can quickly redden if not outright burn when the UV Index is over a 6 or 7. When I sweat, my headpiece easily absorbs it. I easily feel cold drafts during the winter. Certain head gear can easily irritate my scalp. It is a little harder for others in the LGBTQIA community to easily spot me as one of our own. And above all, it reminds me I’m getting older.
I see plenty of other trans men, some older and some younger, who have been on testosterone therapy for years, and still be able to maintain great manes. Meanwhile, I look in the mirror and see someone who quite easily could pass for a white-power skinhead or neo-Nazi (though I know most aren’t), especially when paired with my steel-blue gaze. I see a man who can easily “pass”, who possesses what so many in our community long desire to have, who can blend in when necessary if my safety is at stake. Someone who looks college-age with a beanie and mask on, but definitely looks his age without them on.
My lack of hair carries weight (pun intended) like any hair style, culturally and personally. It’s not coming back. It’s now a signature part of my look, along with my glasses and steel-blue eyes. It’s taken a long time to be able to look in the mirror, and realize that not only does my body reflect what I think it should have always been, but to realize that the face staring back is indeed me. And what I see is the man I was always meant to be.
As per my disclosure, all products mentioned and/or recommended are products I have bought with my own funds, for my own use, free from endorsement, compensation, recommendation, etc. No links are affiliations of any kind. If you choose to purchase anything, you run your own risks, and I am not liable for any consequences you undertake using these products.