Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Cost of Being You – Hair Removal

Permanent hair removal is typically the first of your serious expenses when transitioning. Most of us want the face and neck first, we don’t have to shave daily or at all, and less concealer and foundation when we use cosmetics. Though you certainly don’t have to stop there, just make sure the type of removal you use is rated for the area you want to use it on. There is also a sort of unspoken taboo for publishing pricings on the business websites and personal blogs. I’m not sure why this is, but I also find myself not wanting to say what the cost is on Facebook in public forum. I am going to give you the pricing here, for the one version of hair removal that I have gotten, though I will not name the company.

There are several types of permanent hair removal; they range from the dubious to the trustworthy, with the costs of these ranging upward as you progress to the more reliable. It’s important to note that you don’t really choose the type of hair removal, your hair chooses. Hair color, hair thickness, and skin type can all factors when determining the best type of hair removal. Also, the permanency of the hair removal is questionable. I have found that while almost all claim permanence, most mean it doesn’t grow back immediately or that if it does it comes back finer and easier to care for. Hair removal of any kind can cause physical issues from blemishes to serious burns; I suggest using professionals if you can afford it. If you try home remedies, please use caution and follow the instructions for the device.

[Note: I will be using the IPL device in the example below, rated for female faces and will give a review once enough time has passed in order to give it a fair review.]
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) – Can permanently reduce hair growth, most effectively in darker, coarser hair. There are a lot of different names for this type of device such as E-Light, ELOS, and M-Light. These devices can be initially expensive, with $300-500 being the average. Pain is often described as hot grease splatter or a rubber band snaping. I had a hard time finding any products that could be used for “male“ faces. In point of fact, I didn’t find any at all rated for the male face, though I found several accounts of successful use of the IPL which went against the device warnings. Transgender are not the target market for these devices so I don’t think much thought of any was put into research on removing MtF facial hair. Something to keep in mind when cost is an issue,IPLs use cartridges, be it quartz or other material has a finite life and must be replaced, which can cost anywhere from $70 - $100.
Example: Amazon.com http://a.co/e073aiKRemington iLIGHT Ultra Hair Removal System $449.00

Home Laser Removal  Laser removal is generally recommended for people with light to medium skin tones, as dark skin can absorb more light which may lead to injuries to the skin. Again, the darker the hair, the more effective. Laser removal can generally deliver 70% hair reduction within a 3 months periodAlthough it is expensive compared to other permanent hair removal products, it is still a lot cheaper than in-office treatment options. Laser treatment works by targeting the pigment in your hair and restricts the hair follicle ability to grow again. Also, while most are rated for facial hair, some say that they are not rated for mens faces. I am suspecting this is because of the thicker, denser hair in biological male faces, which would generate a lot more heat in the skin tissue. Please use caution.
Example: Amazon.com http://a.co/hNUZEPY Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X $449.00

Professional Hair Removal  By far the safest and most effective process for permanent hair removal, having it done by a professional is the best way to go. A professional should bring you in for a consultation, they have to see your skin and hair to suggest the best way to go, wether through electrolysis or with laser removal. 
Electrolysis  At this time, the FDA and the American Medical Association recognize only electrolysis as a permanent method of removing hair. It was described to me as this, an electrode (needle) is put into each individual hair root and then an electrical charge is applied. People have said that the feeling is anywhere from a rubber band snapping to only a mild tingle. They can apply a topical solution to make it less painful. 
The Good - It has the best track record. Electrolysis has the best overall results, versus any other method, in ridding hair for long periods of time- or even permanently. Also, many different hair and skin types can benefit. Because it doesn't target hair pigment (color) like laser, but attacks the follicle itself. People that aren't good candidates for laser can still get electrolysis.
The Bad - Bent follicles can make electrolysis hair removal harder. Previous waxing or tweezing can make hair follicles bent or misshapen, and getting the needle to the root more difficult to destroy the follicle. It can take a lot of time. You have to truly be committed to electrolysis because you could anywhere from 15 - 30 sessions. There is also the possibility of skin discoloration from the process if done improperly. I don’t know actual cost, but the concensus is that $45 per session is not out of bounds. So, it can be costly depending on the areas covered.

Laser –
The Good  One of the biggest advantages of laser hair removal is the speed of the treatment in comparison electrolysis, which is much more time consuming.The technique is considered to be safe if performed properly. It is considered to be less painful than other methods (particularly electrolysis). The method is effective for removing hair from large areas such as backs or legs.
The Bad  Laser treatments are only approved by the FDA for "permanent hair reduction" not hair removal. This means that some regrowth is to be expected, this is not a permanent hair-removal solution for most people. There can be side effects that can range from itching or swelling (which will disappear after a few days) to more serious (but rare) side effects like burning, skin discoloration, blistering and infection. Also, since the laser targets melanin (pigment that gives skin and hair color), people with dark hair (more melanin) have more success with this treatment than people with light hair. Mostly, the treatment can be expensive. 

The hair removal professional should ask you questions, and instruct you on what to expect.  The place I went into did a fine job of that, they did not bat an eye that I was transgender and in my mask (I had a lunch appointment with them during work hours). They were kind and caring and very attentive. Here is the rub: Cost. You are going to pay for this service and you are going to pay dearly. For most of us with families and mortgages, the cost is a deal breaker. But if you can manage the cost, they will typically set you up with a schedule that will encompass your treatments at the different phases of hair growth. Once this is done, most will give you financing options. This can be done by treatment, but this can be more expensive in the long run. Most offer a block payment, which is cheaper over all than single treatment payments. This is usually done by a credit system, so you can make payments.
My example is the place in which I had my consultation, face (chin and upper lip) & neck in multiple sessions. Pricing is for Laser treatment (which best fit my skin tone and hair color) with discount and a special they were running that gave 50% off. Total One-Time Payment$5,400.00 Payments using Financing: $242.00 for 24 months.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Being Real

I am the first to admit, I still hide within my mask. I am not proud of it; I am properly ashamed that I still retreat into it because it is familiar, though despised. If I have to run to the store and I haven’t time to don my wig and put on makeup, I take the time to remove my nail polish and put on a cap and go to the store. If I know I will have to speak to someone, I remove everything and become my mask. I hate my voice, I am working on it, but it marks me very readily. I’m not proud of these moments; those that make me feel like I am hiding behind the fa├žade of male privilege.

 

That said, I am indeed a real woman. This isn’t decided by my experiences or by a BBC host who thinks that trans women aren’t sufficiently treated as inferior. My gender is locked into the brain, floating around in my skull. Dame Murray believes that we don’t know feminism because we have known male privilege or that because a couple of newly out trans women are worried about the clothes and cosmetics they will wear. It’s a flawed reasoning, one made out of fear. She is transphobic, she has a fear that we (trans) are somehow going to damage feminism or dilute what it means to be female. She is of course missing a few crucial facts. Feminism is about wanting the sexes to be equal, which is exactly what we want. Trans women worry over clothes and cosmetics because we didn’t grow up into a closet of clothes or into the slow training of putting on cosmetics. Most of us have tried to pass as male the majority of our lives, so there are a lot of areas we have to learn very quickly. These are real worries for real women.

 

Male privilege is not something we asked for, it is a legacy of being trapped inside a body we must endure or change. Those that wield male privilege like a weapon are the reasons why we hide at all, why we don’t come out much earlier in life. We are expected by our fathers (most) to grow up to be men, so we try to fit the idea, tried to make them happy. Did Dame Murray have to endure this; did she have to fight past the misogyny and the confusion to be who she is? No, and she shouldn’t have to in order to be thought of as real. 

 

Dame Murray and other media personalities are entitled to their opinions, but they are also bound by those opinions to the people they entertain. I think that she is misguided and that she can change her mind. I don’t want to give up on her or the others who have voices, they need to understand. I believe that once she understands what transgender is, that we are real and not men (or women) playing at a different gender, I think she can be an important ally. Until then, she is fostering dangerous misconceptions that can get trans women or men killed or assaulted.

 

We are real.