July 19, 2013

Enter the Electrologist

hairlayersLast weekend I was finally able to take a step I’ve been wanting to do for a couple months now: I visited an electrologist.

There are a large number of electrologists in my area, but despite that they are surprisingly hard to get service from. So many of them are small salons or even home-based individuals who hold odd hours and almost never weekend hours. Conversely, there are clinical skin care / beauty care businesses in the area who often have an electrologist on staff but who are really all about you buying into a $500 package of 4-6 laser treatments, and hey for just another $200 we’ll add a Zerona session on top of that, and don’t you want to buy some of this awesome organic beeswax moisturizer we have?

Finally, though, I tracked down Lisa, an electrologist who’s on the recommended list with the gender program, and made a Saturday appointment for a consult. She works out of a small salon that is also reportedly trans-friendly, so I felt safe heading in there.

Lisa is a short, white-haired woman with large cheeks and a no-nonsense personality. Electrolysis is something she does to keep herself busy in her retirement; she used to do laser hair removal as well. As it turns out, she also happens to be trans herself.

The consultation was pleasant. She examined my follicles, told me a little about the technique she uses, then asked me what my goal was with electrolysis — what was I hoping to achieve in the long run? Feeling comfortable at this point, I just went ahead and told her: I was trans and I wanted all my facial hair gone.

Things took a funny turn at that point. While electrolysis continued to be the reason for the visit, the conversation became just as much about being trans. Lisa was well-versed in the trans experience and the local trans community, and she began dropping all sorts of tips and advice on me. Tips on doctors (“There are doctors out there that will give you your treatment papers just by visiting them, but they’re not the ones yu want to go to”), tips on priorities (“You can fake breasts, and you can hide what’s between your legs, but you can’t hide your face — get the facial surgery first”), even tips on the local trans social scene (I now have the names of three trans-friendly clubs in my immediate area, should I want to visit them [I don’t]). What was meant to be a thirty minute consult stretched into an hour-plus dialogue.

In the middle of it all, of course, she did a little electrolysis on me, just so that I could feel what I was getting myself into. It is not pleasant. I also imagine it’s tedious for the electrologist — she has to stick a probe down each follicle and zap each follicle and pluck each follicle one by one. My eyes would cross! Electrolysis may be effective, but that doesn’t mean it’s fun.

Ultimately, I set up my first session for this weekend. I’m still not sure that I won’t end up going the laser removal route (I have been told that I have “perfect” coloration for the best laser results), but in the short-term I’m going to see what Lisa can accomplish. I have a lot of facial follicles — I wore a beard for nearly 20 years — so 300 hours of electrolysis is something I’ll probably have to resign myself to.

Bzzt! Ow. Bzzt! Ow. Bzzt! Ow …

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