trans*scribe illustration © rosa middleton, 2013
Hi. My name is Nika and I’m a wig addict. It’s been four months since my last confection.
Waaaaaaaay back in high school an undisclosed number of years ago (let’s just say that it’s more than seventeen), I had long strawberry blonde hair. It was never thick or all that luxurious, but it sure looked pretty. It was my one ‘socially acceptable’ expression of femininity that was still in line with the masculine image I tried to present. It was my grunge period: Cobain locks, flannel shirts over band tees, stompy boots and jeans that were held together with elastic straps and hope.
There were still homophobes who called me ‘fag’ and other slurs despite the fact that I dated only girls. It didn’t hurt so much as bewilder me. Still, I was glad that they didn’t guess my shameful secret that I had mostly repressed (surprise! I’m transgender). They didn’t know I was a girl. I was safe.
A few years later, I dreaded cleaning out the shower drain. Hair… and more hair. Sure, drain clogs suck, but… HAIR! My hair! I hated brushing it, always wondering if there was more hair on my head or on my brush. Hair, why you no stay on head? Stay! Bad dog! I took to wearing bandannas and keeping what was left of my hair up in a ponytail. Yeah, I was becoming that ‘guy.’ You know, the one with the long, lovely priestly tonsure. It drastically lowered the choices when deciding who to go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show as.
After about a year of this (I may have masochistic tendencies), I looked in the mirror as I was about to tie on my bandanna and thought, “Enough.” Scissors? Check. Razors? Check. Shaving cream? Nope… Never mind, let’s do this thing! That was the first time I shaved my head and I wept. If by now you think I may have been attached to my hair instead of the other way around, you’re on the right track.
Fast forward through a dozen years of deep depression, self-imposed isolation and several hats and other head coverings. It wasn’t all about the hair. I’m not quite that vain. Being bombarded during this time by images of beautiful women with long hair while having male pattern baldness certainly made it easier to repress being transgender. At work about four or five years ago, still presenting as male, I took my hat off and one of my coworkers burst out laughing. She hadn’t known that I was bald on top. Ouch!
In an effort to accept the baldness, I took to taking my hat off now and then and gauging people’s reactions. There’s that masochism of mine stopping by to say hello again. Eventually, I got used to it. A pair of bears slaughtering 42 of my coworkers wasn’t at all necessary, thankfully. That’s unsanitary!
Having worked through a lot of things in the swamp gas between my ears, I finally came out in public on July 19, 2012, as a woman… wearing a wig:
Shortly after, I was sporting a longer wig that suited me much better:
I was a card-carrying member of the gender binary and the western ideals of feminine beauty. Sure, I didn’t dress like anyone else in town, but if you replaced the fun clothes with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, I would have looked like most other girls in town. I wore a wig every day. It didn’t matter if I was heading to work, going to a bar or even going for a bike ride; I wouldn’t step outside my door without a wig on my head. I posted pictures on Facebook, Google+ and other social media sites while wearing these wigs. People loved the photos. I was pretty! People even complimented me in person. I was accepted!
I grew so dependent on wigs and the acceptance that I received while wearing them that I wouldn’t even answer the door without putting one on. It was an idealized and overly feminized caricature of me that I would put on for acceptance. It wasn’t really me. I was becoming a Monster High doll without the undeath or lycanthropy. A punk Barbie. After a few months of this, I had another ‘enough’ moment when I reached for a wig when my phone rang. Sad, innit?
I abandoned my wigs almost entirely. I did wear one as part of a Halloween costume, but that’s a costume! No, I’m not rationalizing. It wasn’t a relapse. Now, I shave my head every few days and I’m loving it. It’s much more Sinead O’Connor than Dr. Evil and much, much more comfortable to live in.
I found my own beauty in baldness. I like me a lot more now. I’m expressing beauty much more consistently with my own internal image of myself. The hard part is remaining true to yourself. Pinnochina has gone from being a plastic doll to being a real girl. Wigging over and out!
About the author: Nika is a 35 year old trans*feminine androgyne or trans*androgynous woman depending on which way the wind is blowing and how many angels are currently dancing on the head of a pin. She’s a punk omni equalist and polyamorous. Currently, she’s in the process of relocating to the Philadelphia area.
Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.
I am loving the opportunity to read the stories of so many amazing and kick-ass trans* people here on Autostraddle!
Your bio made me smile. Also, you seem like a total badass! Thanks for your story.
I second the bit about the bio!
The Sinead look really works for you. :)
Seconded, like holy hell.
I shaved my head bald to celebrate my 50th Birthday! I loved it! I think everyone should shave their head at least once in their lifetime. It grew back an amazing salt and pepper color. 8)
It’s rather nice and goes well with any look. :D
this was so fucking amazing. i love hair feelings!!!!!!! much love <3
“I like me a lot more now.”
That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? :-)
It took me a while to get here, but it’s a good place to be.
You look amazing in all your pictures! Also, I have wig plans.
While I do absolutely love the shot with the train track, you rock baldness so hard :D Great article.
Lovely piece Nika and it’s something I completely relate with. I’ve just had to accept that I’ll never have beautiful hair of my own. I think the shaved head look is very punk though so I guess it suits me in a way. lol
it’s a tough thing to accept, most certainly. It is do-able, eventually. (bad pun intended)
I LOVE this post! Now of course wigs are totally okay. But I love how she pushes herself into new territory and shows us how to be proud of who we are as transwomen.
Old Testament references for the win! Also, you’re a badass.
I am just so happy to hear more voices of trans*women on AS! It warms my heart and makes me realize why I try my best to support this community because AS really cares to make this a inclusive space for all the women identified people and their allies!
PS: WHERE DID YOU GET THAT AMAZING PLAID BLAZER!!??!
I am very happy with how inclusionary Autostraddle is while acknowledging intersectionality. And I picked up the blazer at a thrift store a while back. Tripp brand.
I just noticed a small bald spot that I’d been trying to ignore in the security camera at work today, but I’m about to start HRT! So hopefully that’ll nip that in the bud. As a long, thick hair-haver, though, I understand the attachment to what you perceive as your one good feminine trait, and the horror when your male body starts to take that away too.
You’ve come out the other side though, and done it well. Keep rocking. :)
I sure hope the estrogenie helps you there!
Me too, but at least you’ve shown me it’s alright if she doesn’t. ;o
Damn right! You don’t have to buy what they’re selling. You can make your own brand of beautiful.
You are gorgeous bald! Three cheers on finding your beauty!
(Also, your first wig looks an awful lot like my first wig ;) I relate to the dependence on them, and how liberating baldness can be)
Love you Nika! I think this article very much needed to be written – you go, peach! xox
Love you, evil-poo! Not that your poo is evil, just everything else.
Well yeah, I know that. My poo is very amazing, just not evil. XD
I am loving these outfits! Next contender for Style Thief?
Not only are you a great writer – you’re smokin’ hot too! I had a great time reading this. :)
Wow, you have amazing style!!!! The bald looks good on you :)
i blame the fact that it’s 6:17 in the morning on the fact that the only response i have to this well written and lovely article is “oh my god she’s so cool i want to be her friend but also want to steal that vest from the second wig photo oh my god”
If I could post GIFS, I’d post “All The Feels.”
Because I have them all.
you are beautiful. you are vulnerable. you are free :)
A) I totally thought (based on photos alone) that you were like 22. Or maybe 23.
B) The lack of hair up top means you have moar attention focused on your eyes. Do you find yourself doing stylish or subversive or otherwise fun/interesting things with your eye makeup? Or do you opt for the simple eyeliner-oly sort of look?
A) Thanks! I like looking younger than I am! XD
B) I often experiment with my eye makeup. Different shapes and such with shadows, different colors. Pink and yellow are right out! I like red shadow with blue eyeliner the best so far.
Nice biblical reference with the two bears killing 42 of your coworkers! I like to point that one out to people who try to evangelize to me. It’s in II Kings 2:23-24, if anybody missed it any wants to have a looksie. If you look around on the web you’ll see some people doing some very interesting mental gymnastics to try to justify it.
i love the hell out of this. thanks for such an awesome piece, nika!
Oh my God, where do you get your clothes? Or do you make them yourself? Are there tutorials for how to make these things? I loooove your style O.O
Anyways, props for rocking the bald head. I could only bear to go halfway (with a half-undercut).
I do most of my shopping at thrift stores, but I’ve been doing some modifications to what I have lately. There probably are tutorials out there, but I just try stuff out and it’s worked so far. My most recent project involved a grey and black leopard print bolero jacket. I took some black vinyl from another jacket and cut out the transgender symbol (took me a while to figure out how to get that right!), slapped some paint on the arms, and put a big red A going through the center of it, then sewed that onto the back of the jacket.
I’ve also made a purse out of an old punk tartan top and equally old tripp pants as well as a messenger bag. I’ve also been turning my old hormone dispenser wheels into buttons lately, too.
YOUR STYLE IS SERIOUSLY AWESOME. I love it. Can I have your clothes?
You can come over and borrow them sometime if you’d like. Try to catch me before April 11th, though, or I’ll be in PA.
I struggle every morning when I wake up, get in the bath and look in the mirror at my hair or rather lack of it. It is a struggle at the mo but You’ve helped me this morning by just reading what You wrote, there is hope I feel, thank You
Nika, first off, you rock girl!. I’ve just started hormones, and am also completely addicted to my wig / hair, I haven’t transitioned socially yet, and I’ve been asking myself what am I going to do if my hair doesn’t thicken enough, I don’t want to wear that damn wig all year (especially in our +40C summers). Thanks for showing me another beautiful version of femininity that I would have never dared to think of and opening my eyes. Muah!
I know I’m late to the party.
I CAN NOT thank you enough for the article you wrote! I’m a bald transwoman, aged 47 years old. My hair loss has been devastating to me. Even years before I finally gave in to transitioning (was married 16 years to a woman), I hated being bald and sporting a big beard. Almost two years ago I started transitioning. About two months ago I began entertaining the though of just FORGETTING about wigs, and SHAVING my head. About two weeks ago I went out in public with my shaved head and while it’s obvious that my receding hairline is pretty high, it was SO LIBERATING to FULLY be “me”. I, too, felt like Sinead O’Connor :-) I’m on Instagram as “nisty7kragel2”