There are many milestones in a hetero woman's life (aside from the obvious) that act as little markers of sexual change along the way. The first holler from a passing car, the first time your brother's friend notices you're actually a girl, the first time an ambulance driver or firefighter checks you out and you feel somehow a little less safe in the world. Then there's hair - the head kind. You can grow it, cut it, fluff it, tease it and it causes a reaction outside yourself. It's sexual, but it's also such a gender tag.
I remember some of my first Women's Studies classes at UVic, when I showed up as my tarted 18-year old self, knee socks, hot pants, determined that I was controlling all the gazes around me. Within 30 days I changed into a leggings and over-sized fisherman sweater-wearing girl who donned fakenstocks borrowed from her mother and put her hair in a bun every day. I was friends with bi girls, dykes, trannies, pre- and post-ops and realized I knew absolutely nothing about sexuality.
I've learned a couple 'o things since then, but one constant has been the ability to control sexual signals through my hair - and I don't mean by making it look perfect every day, cuz I ain't nothing if not a girl in a love-hate relationship with her hair. I'm talking about taking my tresses and deciding what part of the girl story about me I want to portray to the world. It's a tiny bit of power in a fucked up world.
In a few days, I'll likely lose my hair and there's nothing I can do about it. My cancer twin, S, says that the anticipation of losing it is worse than the actual loss, but she's got a lovely, classic beauty about her. I'm all angles and teeth and bone and ridgey skull and fear I may scare small animals with my impending baldness.
But I wait. And I use my thickening shampoo like an idiot every day. Tugging here and there to see if any loosens. I haven't decided on the wig route yet. I haven't decided whether I'll bare it in public, but I do know I'm more freaked out about this than I'll ever let on out loud.
In the meantime, I have my friend, C, who was bald by choice back in the day and looked pretty rockin. Here she is with me and another friend around 15+ years ago, looking like the saucy girl she's always been. I'll take inspiration where I can get it.