How Big Of a Beard Can I Grow?

I admit it: I’m a lazy guy when it comes to shaving. I didn’t shave prior to transition, so why would I start now??

I also tend to ignore public opinion. When I polled readers at the end of No Shave November 2010, only 6% of you thought I should continue to let my beard grow wild.

On New Year’s Day 2011, I gave in and went for a clean shaven look. I regretted it quickly. I’ve never liked the shape of my chin (probably somewhat rooted in the childhood memory of my orthodontist pointing out flaws in the shape and orientation of my chin and jawline.) Plus, my skin is a bit sensitive and I developed a wicked case of razor burn by January 2.

By the time this year’s No Shave November kicked off, I already had a 3 month razor-free head start with no plans to shave come Dec. 1.

This morning, I seriously contemplated a shave: tidy up the neck line, trim down the cheeks, even things out. I hopped onto Beards.org for inspiration but wound up inspired to NOT shave. Ha! I don’t think I’ll have any trouble being crowned a MaBeGroMo Champion. The hammer’s dropped, the beard stays. (For now, at least.)

How I Care For My Beard

I almost never comb my hair, but I comb my beard several times a day. It gets tangled fast and it feels good to get at my face under that fur.

I wash it every day or two with a gentle liquid soap in the shower, and once a week I wash it more thoroughly with a KnottyBoy shampoo bar. (I’d like to find some emu oil, I hear it’s a great beard conditioner.)

I style tame it with Knotty Boy dreadlock wax. Love the stuff!

I scissor trim whenever straggler whiskers visibly exceed the length of their brothers, and I trim my (still very blond) mustache weekly.

The Ramifications of Having a Bushy Beard

I’ve noticed on a few occasions that strangers seem to react to me a little differently with a bushy beard. For example, at a grocery store recently an elderly woman looked downright terrified of  me as she hurried past me in the aisle. Another (more friendly) example: other men with big beards give me the Bearded Brother Nod. Amazingly, I still occasionally get ID’d buying liquor, but less than BTB (Before the Beard.) I sometimes get food in my beard, or bits of Kleenex in it when I blow my nose. This is kind of gross, but it’s part of the package.

My Beard Goals

Transition requires so much patience! I look forward to my mustache becoming fuller and filling in down to each side of my chin. I’m still not able to grow much in the middle of my chin and up to my bottom lip but have lots of growth at the bottom of my chin on each side. (I could rock a French Fork.) Otherwise, I don’t really have any specific style or goal in mind, aside from low maintenance, though I seem to be subscribing to the notion of bigger is better.

If my GF has any say it in, I’ll wind up with a very big beard indeed. And this is kind of a shocker as I recall telling my psychologist in my initial surgery/hormone assessment that one of the reasons I was unsure about going on T was because I didn’t think my GF would like my facial hair. Looking back, I know I came up with all kinds of reasons why I couldn’t medically transition and I can now label that: Fear.

Do you have any beard goals? What about favorite beard or shaving products or beard websites? And lastly, would you be brave enough to sport a Monkey Tail?

UPDATE, 01/28/12: No, I still haven’t shaved. My beard and I are lending support to Tarald in his mission to end discriminatory policies in Norway against transgender people. Inspired by the first Norwegian king, Harald Fairhair, Tarald is growing his beard as a statement of protest, symbolizing the discrimination transgender people face, and our fight for basic human rights. I had the chance to meet Tarald in Seattle at the 2009 Gender Odyssey conference and am proud to support him in this. “What happens to my ovaries will probably have consequences for other trans people as well.” In solidarity!

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