How Growing Out My Body Hair and T4T Sex Helped Me Find Self-Acceptance

“Can I ask you something?”

My one night stand had a perplexed look on her face. I was pulling a T-shirt over my head and preparing to open my bedroom door quietly. It was 4 AM. I lived with my grandparents, and I feared that my grandpa, who drove trucks early in the morning, would run into the girl I was just holding in my arms and wonder why she was leaving at this hour.

“Sure,” I replied.

“Would you ever consider shaving?”

I frowned. In an instant, her comment transported me back towards the closet — which I had only recently come out of. At this point in my life, I still identified as a woman, but I was slowly steering away from the rigid gender binary. For me, that meant growing out my body hair.

In retrospect, I didn’t decide to stop shaving because of my gender identity or my political ideology. I was getting ready to drive to the beach with my family — a trip that was over four hours long — and I couldn’t find a razor to shave my underarms. That trip ended in a walk down the beach with my dad, who spat out Bible verses and tried to convince me that shaving made me more suitable for companionship. I internalized my dad’s comments. Back at home in my mom’s bathroom, I lathered shaving cream under my arms.

I had my fair share of boyfriends who didn’t like my body hair. They would say, “You need to be shaved — completely.” I found this to be both unreasonable and impossible to maintain.

I always felt disconnected from myself in my relationships with men. I thought dating women would be different — and, in many ways, it was — but I still held onto the cisheteronormativity that had been ingrained in me. Although there didn’t seem to be any gender hierarchies that I had to navigate while dating women, some women still expected me to adhere to society’s idea of what a woman should look like.

As time went on, I found myself buying razors less often. Eventually, I moved out of my parents’ house and accepted that how they view me is ultimately not my responsibility. After I moved out, I started to have a better understanding of who I was outside of the roles that people expected me to embody.

I kept my underarm hair to rebel against the gender binary, but I still found myself shaving my bikini line so I wouldn’t “scare off” the people I was dating. Still, I thought about the fact that having a smooth bikini line was a result of the harsh and unfair beauty standards that are imposed on women — and was I even a woman in the first place?

After two more years of cosplaying as a cis woman, I came out as nonbinary.

A couple of months after my last breakup, I went to a bar with my friends. As I danced on the back patio, a mutual friend told me in between steps that I deserve to be with people who accept me.

“Stop shaving, and maybe prioritize having sex with people who are nonbinary or trans. See if that helps you feel a little better,” they said as they pulled me into them and taught me how to move my feet correctly to the Latin beat.

I thought about their words for a while. Later, I started downloading dating apps. In my bio, I clarified that I was interested in pursuing T4T relationships. It’s not that I was no longer attracted to cisgender people — I was hoping to find parts of myself reflected in the people I dated.

I stumbled in and out of T4T dates and hookups. I fully grew out my underarm hair and my pubic hair, and at first, I would still hold my breath whenever I pulled down my pants in front of a new partner. Fortunately, other nonbinary people were usually unphased by my body hair, and most of them also had visible body hair, too. Eventually, I found that my body hair was actually helping me feel more confident and affirmed during sex, as long as I was having sex with people who appreciated me exactly the way I am.

Now my body hair reminds me that my gender is not fixed — I don’t have to fit the mold of what a woman is supposed to look like, no matter what my previous partners said. Instead, I’m free to bend the rules.

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Amaris is a Black, nonbinary, anticapitalist, writer, grassroots organizer, content creator, and grad student based in Atlanta, GA. You can watch their content on Tiktok at @radmadgrad and follow their Instagram @radmadgrad.

Amaris has written 1 article for us.


  1. so interesting how experiences around body hair and partners can reinforce such different things about gender for different people! for me totally reinforced lesbianism and for you being non-binary

  2. I definitely feel this! Coming into my queerness and rejection of colonialist gender helped me reject Soooooo many of the conditions/standards/expectations/whatever-the-f*cks of womanhood. Love it!

  3. I quit shaving over twenty years ago. I am pretty hairless to begin with, and what little hair there, is platinum blonde, so you really cannot see it. I did however start shaving my bikini and arm pit areas, my own personal choice, I simply prefer a less musky scent for myself and when I have the few scraggly hairs in my pits, they stink more, and when I let the ole fuzzy peach go gangly, I can smell myself when I go to the bathroom, and it makes me feel uncomfortable. Yep, it’s societies norms, I know, to each their own poison. I shave mine.

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