Ask Gabriel: Haircuts and Identities

Ask Gabriel is an advice column series where you can get your questions answered about being transgender, coming out, changing your name, hormones, sexuality, representation, dating, etc. These are questions that have been submitted to me by transgender and nonbinary people! You can read my last column here.

Hi Gabriel,

So I’ve known for almost 3 years now that I’m a Trans guy. I go to high school and live with my parents still. I came out to my parents a year ago and my mom doesn’t think I’m a guy. My hair is a big problem to me. I can’t get my mom to cut it. If I snip a little off, she’ll punish me. If I ask my dad to take me to go get it cut, she’ll punish me. If I ask her politely, she’ll tell me to shut up and go away. Because of the length of my hair and femininity of my face, people call me a girl and it makes me want to curl up in a corner and cry. She cut it super short one time and I was never called a girl, only a boy, which made her insanely upset. I asked her if she can cut it like that again and she said she never will. I don’t know what to do and it’s causing me to go into a depression. I have no friends that I trust to talk with due to trust issues so I’m turning to you. How do I ask for a hair cut in this situation? Thank you. – Anonymous

This is a pretty tough situation; reminds me of how my parents were when I first got my hair cut super short. As for what to do, it all depends how much you want that haircut. Do you have any money of your own? If you do, it would be in your best interest to go out and get it cut by a barber. She will likely throw a fit again the next time she sees you but what’s done is done – she can’t make the hair magically grow back. It may take her a very long time to get with the program, maybe never, but YOU need to do what will make YOU the most comfortable and not your mother. Good luck!

Hi Gabriel,

I came out a out two years ago and my parents told me I was just following a trend and they were shoving me back into the closet to prevent me from losing good opportunities. I suffered a lot because of it and have been looking forward to university because of it. However, recently, I was yelled at because my mom could sense I have some resentment because of the fact that I wasn’t allowed to be trans and she doesn’t think that I am trans. And she told me if I wanna screw up my life then I can do so after college. This scared me because I moved to NYC so I could be myself and transition but she scared me and now I’m too afraid to take the steps to transition, change my name, get surgery, etc. I feel like out of kindness I should wait to transition for my parents and my younger sister but I also know that I’ve been waiting to be myself forever to do this. Can u give me some advice or some guidance on how to figure out what to do? – Anonymous

Are they paying for your college education? If so, you have to tread very carefully because one wrong step can result you in being unable to finish college because your parents are withholding funds. If anything, you can maybe go to a informed consent clinic in New York City (there’s Callen-Lorde and APICHA) and go on hormones but on a low dose so that changes happen slow but they will be happening and you will feel more comfortable in your body. It may not be much but it will be a start! You can get your hair styled if you haven’t already, start dressing more of the way you want, present yourself with your preferred name and pronouns. I know that more professors in college are starting to ask in the beginning of the semester what you PREFERRED to be called even though you might not have legally changed the name.

Transitioning isn’t just medical, you know. Also, I live in New York City as well so if you’re up for it, we can make a time to meet and share stories. I wish you all the best! 😀

Hi Gabriel,

I identify as transmasculine nonbinary. Upon having a conversation with a trans person, he said my identity was nonexistent and said I was an outlier, he then proceeded by throwing a bunch of “facts and statistics” to me. I honestly didn’t know what to say or how to defend myself. How should I go about doing so? I know I can’t change anyone’s mind, but I can at least educate. Also, how do I go about answering “but do you hale male parts…” questions in a “non-rude” way? Thanks!

That person sounds ignorant; be careful when trying to educate people who say things like this because educating does not always equal change in their thinking. I’m not saying don’t do it but do practice self care because educating ignorant folks who spout “there are only 2 genders” can get tiring real fast and it is like trying to educate a brick wall. As for answering “Do you have male parts?”, you can be rude and not feel bad about it because it is a RUDE question to ask anyone! But if you must, you can just brush that off saying “None of your business.” and move on.

Nonbinary identities, whether binary transgender people like it or not, are considered transgender because it fits the definition of identifying with another gender that is not their assigned gender at birth. Trying to make an argument against that kind of talk requires research on your part but history has shown that there are many cultures (ex. Native Americans) that have multiple genders other than male and female and don’t follow the rigid gender binary of Western culture. We all have masculine and feminine characteristics and nonbinary people just reflect them in their own ways that can’t be described as purely masculine or feminine.

Here’s some further reading if you are interested:

Got a question for Gabriel? Submit them here and they will be answered in a future post!

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