When things get hairy

Back in August, prior to her having come to us with her “secret”, I took George (n.c.i.) for his (g.c.i.) annual back-to-school haircut.  It was late in the afternoon after a busy day of buying the obligatory new sneakers and logging a few final hours at the pool.  We went to the nearby SuperCuts and, as I had for the previous nine years, told the stylist to give him (g.c.i.) a “regular boy’s” haircut.  (Hmmm…there’s that irony again).  Despite his (g.c.i.) protestations, I asked her to make it short enough that it would last for a while as I knew how crazy the opening weeks of school can be.  George (n.c.i.) sat stoically while the stylist snipped away, not making a sound (I should have known then that there was something amiss…George was never without chatter.)  A picture is worth a thousand words:

What I didn’t capture on film, but is forever etched in my brain, are the genuine, choking tears that followed once we got into the car.  Who knew that a haircut could truly devastated this child?  It was not long after that when George (n.c.i.) told me with great even greater emotion than post-haircut of his (g.c.i.) always having felt like a girl.  It would be the last “regular boy’s” haircut for a while.

It was agreed upon that a certain nine year-old would grow out his/her hair which is never an easy proposition: particularly when one  is anxious and impatient. (That was me, actually.  I think George/Jessie was a little cooler with it than I, mostly because he/she had no idea just how long it was going to take.)   I decided that our SuperCuts days were behind us and that I would, when the time came, enlist my trusted stylist to do the honors in cutting her hair so that it would grow out.  (The entire concept of “cutting to grow out” hair was a prospect that I learned at an early age to fear and loathe.  Having been the victim of a “shag” haircut in the 70’s – for which I still have not entirely forgiven my mother – I know all too well the agony that ensues when attempting to grow out a thousand different layers.  I had (not so) secretly vowed to myself that I would never put a child through that, but, in my defense, I didn’t know that George was soon to become Jessie, else I never would have gone the crazy layer route.)  We went to JeanPierre, my hair savior, and he expertly did the appropriate snipping and, with his magic scissors, created a “regular girl’s” haircut which had a little sass and a lot of style.  Why I did not snap a picture that day, I will never know.

Over the past several months, the hair has become increasingly at the forefront of the morning routine.  Jessie  loves to wash it, dry it, attempt to style it and I am pretty sure, tug on it to make it appear just a little bit longer.  When she leaves for school it is neatly tucked behind her ears, giving it added shape and accentuating her (adorable) face.  By the time I collect her at the end of the day, however, it is sitting atop her head looking much like a nest and far less attractive.  For better or worse, it appears she has inherited the texture, bulk and quantity of hair like her mother.  (This is a good thing, considering her father is of the shaved head variety.)  Despite my gently suggesting (okay, begging and cajoling) her to remember to use those ears as an accessory, she never seems to remember.  (She does, however, remember to torture me each morning with her pleas for mascara…).  This morning, as she was eating one of her favorites breakfasts (peanut butter and jelly on Ritz crackers.  Her second most favorite is a tuna fish sandwich) I came up behind her and slid a slim barrette on each side of her head hoping that those side puffs would be tamed a bit.  She went upstairs to brush her teeth and returned looking like this:

The elation of having procured (with the aid of some water and clever hand-slicking) her virgin ponytail was palpable: note the smile.  Sure, it is silly, almost fictitious, but undeniably a ponytail.  Today will be forever memorialized as a milestone day in Jessie’s adventure.  I now sit back and wait for her to tell me she needs a Keratin treatment…

27 thoughts on “When things get hairy

  1. She kind the ranks of millions who struggle to have hair like somebody else. Curly and thicky wishing for smooth and straight; straight and thin wishing for curly and thick. This is why there are a gazillion hair dressers and closets/drawers filled with products that make all sorts of promises….all if which are ultimately broken by the power of humidity.

    Welcome, Jessie, to the special hell that is womanhood, filed with the bad AND the just be grateful you don’t have to incest good.

  2. Welcome, Jessie, to the wonderful world of womanhood. A special place where those with thick and curly hair wish for smooth and straight while those with straight and thin long for the other. Where billions are spent on products that make myriads of promises that are all too often broken. Aaaaahhhh, the hours we spend sitting in the salon just to have or goes dashed by the first high humility day.

    Welcome, my child. Know that you are part of a sisterhood that understands. longed for a pony tail just to find that it did nothing for

  3. Amazing story … amazing milestone … the ever elusive pony tail! I had long hair til I went to college, because my mom could never grow hers past her shoulders. I also couldn’t get my ears pierced because, as my grammy used to say, if G-d wanted you to have holes in your ears, he would have put them there. I went to college that fall and came back at Thanksgiving … with … you guessed it … a much shorter do, a Dorothy Hamill bob ( I am soooo dating myself!) and two pierced ears, a sign, no doubt of my independence:-) Jessie has a long way to go in the anals of girls and their hair. I have no doubt that she will enjoy this journey because it’s all we ever talk , our hair! The two pictures are striking in their differences … one happy … one not so much. Thanks for sharing something that all of us can certainly relate to. Love you. By the way … Is that THE JeanPierre of Newbury Street? I knew him many years ago when I worked for the Weiner family. I haven’t thought about him in ages … Loved him … A very nice man:-) xo

    • I, too, had a Dorothy Hamill haircut which was a big mistake for someone with thick, curly hair…

      Everyone keeps asking me if it is THE JeanPierre. I dunno, all I know is that he is the only person on the planet who can cut my (and now Jessie’s) (okay, Harrison’s, too) hair. If Rich had any hair, I am sure he would be cutting it, too.

  4. Julie,

    Well, the title of your blog had me thinking this was going to be about the onset of puberty, but I’m happy to learn that it is the top-of-the-head hair that Jessie is dealing with (not that it is without its own problems, of course). Nevertheless, hormone therapy will undoubtedly go a long way in helping Jessie’s hair – whether it be a full head of hair or the non-appearance of hair growth in unwanted areas.

    By age 11, I was already seeing the effects of testosterone on my body. I was shaving my face about three times a week at age 13, and my already thin hair began receding before I graduated from high school. Blocking the testosterone would have made my life so much easier, had that even been an option in 1961. You said in an earlier blog that hormone therapy was a few years away for Jessie, but I hope that her “development” will be monitored closely enough so that ‘hairy’ problems may be averted.

    Most men don’t have a clue how hard it is to be a girl. Most people don’t know how hard it is for a transgender girl to be a girl. I am hoping and praying that Jessie has it as easy as possible in the coming few years, as it will be all so important. I know that she’s off to a good start. For now, though, the pony tail is to be celebrated. WooWoo (as I give her a tip of my wig)!


      • Julie, I would have read it, even if you’d entitled it, “Jessie Gets a Pony”. I always enjoy reading your posts. “When Things Get Hairy” is quite good, though; a triple entendre, really (even a quadruple, if you take “hairy” as “Harry”).

        As always, I give my perspective in the hope that others may have a better understanding of what a transgender person must endure to just be herself (or himself, as the case may be). I don’t mean to be a “Debbie Downer” about it, even if it may sound that way sometimes. I have merely been on a different journey, but I am finally deriving some of the benefits. Why, just yesterday, as I was driving in the midst of a torrential downpour, one of the
        wiper blades disintegrated. Wisely, I made the decision to stop and run into the auto parts store before I might have run into something else, instead. The man in the store not only helped me pick out the correct windshield wipers, but he also offered to install them for me. As he got soaking wet working out in the pouring rain, I sat in the car, keeping my “hair” dry. Sure, I could have easily done the job myself (lots of male role conditioning), but it’s so comforting to know that I’m not required to prove it. So, although I am
        unable to fashion my own hair into a ponytail, I can still celebrate the small victories as they come along. Thanks for allowing me to also celebrate in


      • Bravo to you for embracing the female prerogative of letting a guy take care of things for you — particularly when bad hair is on the line!

        And, always, thank you for your incredible insight!!

  5. Adorable post! Love the ponytail! For hair treatments, there is amazing Japanese hair conditioner, used once a week, makes your hair feel like butter. It’s used for more damaged hair from Japanese straightening, and it’s like $30 for a massive bag of it with Japanese on the front of it, only available at those beauty outlets, but man, does it last forever, and REALLY work.

    Love the hair do! 😀


  6. I remember the first post pixie ponytail, it was a great day in our house! Pigtails were an even bigger deal, just wait. I recommend adding 15 minutes to the morning routine until the novelty wears off. Heavy duty gel will help fake it until all of the pieces are long enough to stay in the band. I will share all of our growing out secrets.
    She and Sarah can try all the American Girl hairdos out on each other!!!!! Get the bobypins, gel and hair spray ready! I will provide all needed items and wine for the moms.

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