When I was in Junior High, there was this boy, Joey Melancon. He was beautiful. 70’s aesthetic – that perfect longish mop of dry, almost frizzy hair; his torso 70’s skinny, the kind of lean and burgeoning 14 year old boy muscularity that always, in my mind anyway, conjures the letters “NAMBLA."
His girlfriend was this stunning redhead. I mean breath-catchingly stunning, at least to me, who, had there been that option in 1974, would’ve worn an oversized black sweater and black raver pants so I could swim in contented isolation in the shadow of my own insecurity.
By 1975, a mere two seasons later, Joey was a different boy. He had begun to pursue me, ask me out, which was thrilling – you have no idea the fantasy life I had conjured for both him and her, and I can tell you plainly I wasn’t featured anywhere in that – but here’s the thing: he just wasn’t as beautiful.
His face, 6 months later, had thickened. Those epicene, Grecian features were no more. He looked almost horsey, his facial bones having elongated in the hormonal tumult, his brow protruding. Of course I went out with him; I could find traces of my Joey in that quixotic visage and I was too delighted to have been asked out at all by someone I had perceived as popular, with whom I had spun an albeit fragile architecture of romance around, to say “no thanks, you look like a horse and you’re not actually as interesting in person.” *
I hate my hair and my skin is coarsening.
Like it or not, and I do not, I have entered
I just feel ugly. Between boy and man ugly. I’ve got pimples for crying out loud. I had this thing, this look, as a lesbian; it was cute and girls liked it. Now I feel like my hair sucks – it’s unbecomingly short, but it is more “male;” my torso is muscling but my legs and hips are still a jiggly paean to the glories of the full-figured female; I’ve got a penchant for straight chicks I NEVER had before, even though that’s often whom I’ve attracted and I suspect heterosexual women find this awkward boy-woman-man (bowoman!) unappealing or even creepy, which speaks more to my newly detonated adolescent insecurity than my actual real-time appearance.
I shall not be attending the sock-hop, thank you very much. You can’t make me. I’ll be smoking cigarettes behind the gym.
I’m not a pretty boy. The application of aesthetic is different for men, I have to remember that. I noticed, on my transguy friends, that their skin is more lined than mine, and they look thicker and rougher. Like guys. That’s part of what happens. It’s mortifying that my nose feels like it’s growing proportionate to, erm, other changes, but that’s what I get for wanting to be a man, right? At some point I can stick a moustache under there to balance that shit out, right? I’ve always loved large noses, especially on men, so what’s the big deal?
Joey wasn’t beautiful anymore. I wonder if he grew into his masculine, adult beauty. I imagine he did. I have got to drop all these ideas about what I’m going to look like. Everyone tells you up front, when you begin testosterone therapy: you don’t get to pick and choose the effects! You’re not going to love everything that happens to you!
Of course, when you hear that, true to your impending adolescence, you think “you’re stupid and old and you don’t know anything.” Or something like that. I’d read the stories, of hair sprouting in unexpected, unimaginable almost, places, hair receding alarmingly in others, smells and oils and feelings and discomforts, but I don’t think anyone ever said “you may not be pretty anymore.”
Alas, I’m no longer a lass. I’m going to have to amp up the self-confidence. Chicks dig a confident man, and a funny, secure dude can sometimes find ingress where a handsome or pretty lad cannot. And it is, after all, all about the ladies. That seems to be writ in stone, and no amount of skin-sloughing oatmeal scrub shall blast it away. So wish me luck, and if you see me, please take pity. I'm Quasimodo just now, gimping around the bell-tower; Cyrano De Bergerac, watching the cool young dudes dance with his lady to his own tunes - aw HELL NO. I've got the adolescent's disproportionate egocentricity too - I forgot. I'll just charm the pants offa ya.
*he was very sweet and still gorgeous but adolescence is the HARSHEST CRITIC.