My mom has been hinting since the summer that my dad teach me how to shave. Well, actually, “hinting” implies subtlety; she’s been outright stating it. Two weeks ago, I approached my dad about teaching me: he was going out of town soon, and my best friend’s wedding was drawing nearer. I knew that I was going to be in the wedding photos, and I didn’t want there to be any chance of weird patchy bits of hair on my face in the photos (because it indeed is growing in patchy bits, not evenly at all). And so my dad got out his fancy electric razor and showed me how to shave my face.
Since I began thinking about going on T, I’ve known that I would eventually need to learn how to shave. I could always have looked on the internet and/or YouTube, but it just felt like some kind of milestone — something of some significance, something that should be shared with someone else. (Of course, I’m almost excessively sentimental; I always have been.) I wasn’t sure if it’d be awkward to ask my dad, or even if I’d be in the same state as he would be at the relevant time. I considered asking to be taught by one of my numerous Chicago friends who have learned how to shave at, shall we say, a nontraditional age (“later in life”) — either in person if I was in Chicago or via Skype if I wasn’t.
And then the time came that I really needed to learn how to shave, and my dad was there, and he was totally great and matter-of-fact about teaching me. It might have been difficult for him to teach the child who was formerly his only little girl how to shave, but if it was, he didn’t show it.
I spent what felt likes ages trying to get every bit of hair off my face, running back and forth between my dad’s sink and my mom’s lighted vanity mirror (the type used for applying makeup, the kind that magnify your face a whole bunch), trying to ensure that I hadn’t missed a spot. I didn’t exactly do a great job (clearly, I need practice), but I didn’t cut myself, and the patchy bits were eventually gone.
I feel so lucky — that I had a good experience, that it wasn’t something to hide or do in secret, that my family supported me in, that my dad (my actual, legal, raised-me-since-I-was-a-baby-and-I-call-him-Dad father) taught me how to shave. A lot of transfolks don’t have anything near that. And this isn’t to diminish chosen family in any way; it really isn’t. But I think that ideally, your legal family/family of origin should be like your chosen family — they should all love and support you for who you are and who you want to be. We all deserve to have family like that.
I know I talk a lot about how fantastic and supportive my mom is, and that’s absolutely true. But I don’t necessarily talk about my dad as much (perhaps because he is, by character, not as vocal and emotionally expressive as my mom is), and that’s unfortunate and a bit unfair to him. My dad may not say it as often as my mom does, but he express his support of me and his love for me, both verbally and with actions like these. I’m lucky he’s my dad.