I've decided to pull the trigger on laser beard removal. (It's less thorough than electrolysis, but cheaper and less painful, and my light skin and dark hair is supposed to be a good match for it.) My earlier fear of maybe needing beard shadow to avoid accidentally passing (and thereby incurring unwanted social costs, however much I would prefer my reflection) looks ridiculous in hindsight; I'm sure I've never read as anything other than a man with gynecomastia—and it's even more moot now that I've quit HRT. (On that subject, the return of my standard-issue hormone balance has been mostly uneventful, my main observation being that spontaneous erections are a disturbing nuisance after the peace of having had that system set to Do-Not-Disturb for a few months.)
I told myself that before committing to laser, I should take some days or weeks without shaving to make sure I really understood what I would be giving up. (One thing I regret about the HRT experiment is that I neglected to take a bare-chested "Before" photo. As having breasts has become more familiar, I'm not sure I remember what my chest was like seven months ago; I should have been documenting the changes: you know, for Science.)
I lasted about six days. Facial hair is just gross.
My first session was Wednesday. The clinic—parlor, salon?—was in "Portland"'s historic gay district. I checked out a nearby bookstore beforehand. They had the Hamilton soundtrack playing, and a table setup encouraging customers to write postcards to our Congresscritters to protest GOP villainy.
Meatspace bookstores never fail to conjure up a healthy sense of greed and ambition in me. O books O knowledge! O vastness of human thought, O connectedness of the readership graph! O searing pain of wretched humiliation that I've been so slow and lacking in my own contributions to the graph. (Lest we forget, The Scintillating But Ultimately Untrue Thought is more than a year old, and I've barely begun the Sequence of things I've wanted to say for a long time.)
I bought a copy of Counterexamples in Topology, and a short story collection with a 2017 copyright date, subtitled The New Trans Erotic [sic]—research for the blog, I told myself; I should understand the competition, the bright young gender-dysphoric literary minds sworn into the service of the victimhood identity-politics mind-virus and accordingly shunted down the transition track, rather than the repression track or—whatever you want to call what I'm doing. (And if they can write and produce a meatspace book, why can't I?)
At the laser place, I had to fill out some administrative and consent forms on a tablet. The autocompletion for the "First name" field had apparently only been seeded with female names: when I typed in a Z—because of, um, reasons—the offered completions were Zaina, Zhuoyun, and Zoe.
After a brief video call with someone with the appropriate credentials to satisfy our friends in Washington and "Salem", the nurse-technician performed the treatment: her wand blew cold air over my face to mask the needlelike pain of the laser bursts. (The cold air being forced into my mouth while she did my upper lip was more memorably uncomfortable than the laser-pinpricks themselves.)
The aftercare instructions seem a little more zealous than I suspect is strictly necessary. They say (and I was instructed verbally) to wear at least SPF 50 sunscreen, and I was told that I would be provided with some after the appointment—which turned out to be SPF 30.
It's going to take a number of further sessions to really make a dent in my beard density. But soon ... !