I bought some really posh shaving cream and lotion for the first time last week, and had a shave that made my skin feel great. It wasn’t the first time I’ve shaved, I’ve just neglected my face. And no, I’m not taking testosterone, still pre-everything. I’m just Asian. One of the many blessed Pakistanis, who was born a very hairy girl.

The first time I had any hair removal was when I was about 10 years old. I had a furry upper lip and the kids at school made fun of me. I told my mum how sad I felt, and she got the neighbour round to wax it off. It really hurt and it became an unpleasant regular experience. I hit 13 and my sister had started shaving her legs, so I started too. My mum was somewhat happy and encouraged me to shave my arms too. I did and I felt great. Smooth skin, and brown arms that didn’t stand out because there was a thick layer of dark hair over them. My school year group was predominantly Asian, we were all a bit hairy, but you couldn’t tell; hair-removal is just a way of life. Despite this incredible hair growth, I hit puberty late, which gave the girls a reason to call me lucky for not starting my period until I was 16. I always had a bit of a hairy face, sideburns, chin, etc, but it thickened after that. I ignored it, my self-esteem had never been better at that age, but it was my mum and dad who pointed it out.

My dad sent me to the doctors a couple of times about this. The doctors took my blood for tests. Checking testosterone levels. They gave me ‘the pill’ to diminish hair growth. But nothing worked. It was just the way I was. My mum swooped in, saving me with a face treatment called ‘IPL’ which I went through for 4 years, at £90 a session. It is ‘intense pulsed light’ or something, which is like harnessing the light and heat of the sun to about an inch of your face at a time. Well the burn definitely feels like it. Skin is burnt, hair sizzles, follicles grow weak, and hair growth reduces. Hair does grows back, and because my hair was so thick, it did quickly. Between treatments I had to shave. And this made me feel so horrible and embarrassed. It was a secret. I couldn’t tell my friends that I perform this fundamental male activity to keep me looking feminine. I kept it as clinical as I could – a dry shave with a disposable blade – which has damaged my skin over the past years.

One of the first things a friend said upon hearing the news of my transition was, “He’s going to be so hairy!” And you’re goddamn right I am. Without T, I’m sporting a chunky treasure trail across a downy mocha torso, a soft patch on my lower back, a nice even coat from my shoulders to my wrists, and a heavier one on my legs, with a thick forest erupting from my groins down my thighs. Kept trim of course.

What is my body going to become with this aggressive, rugged hormone?! It actually worries me. After having to avoid and remove hair for so long, I’m going to have to embrace it. I think the biggest issue will be growing hair on my face, because that was where a lot of my self-esteem derived from, low and high. Since I’ve accepted my transgenderism, I’ve seen shaving it as normal. I’m not ashamed of it anyway. Even though I’m not on T, I guess I’m proud I can have all this extra hair for free. It’s like my body already knew… I’m going to open a biology-debate flavoured can of worms, so I’ll stop there.

Hair is beautiful! No matter what anyone says. I mean, the werewolf face issue is personal to me because it was pretty abnormal, but I stopped shaving legs and armpits for over a year now. I don’t feel any different. In fact, I guess I feel better. Confident. A little embarrassed because years of hair removal has resulted in patchy legs, but I like it. It’s me. And that’s the best thing anyone can be.

It seems that these experiences, looking back, have also made me realise how the whole idea of hair removal is so influenced by men. Actually it’s not an influence, it’s a creation, of hairless, artificial, man-made (excuse the pun) women. The male ideology has taken over so many facets of what makes up a woman and what she thinks of herself. There’s so much pressure to look a certain way, we don’t even know where it’s really coming from. I shaved because my mother told me to. I had hair removal treatments because my father told me to. They didn’t want to see me covered with hair, like a boy. Get rid of it. It is what a daughter goes through, hand in hand with puberty…which involves, ironically, hair growth…

Of course, there’s the idea of men to be god-like and flawless, with smooth skin hugging a ripped hairless chest. But it’s very unlikely their body is totally hairless. And then there is the other perfect male fantasy of a dark, rough and rugged beauty, all natural, untouched, but that’s all you want to do; touch him.

Why doesn’t this work both ways?

I haven’t stopped removing hair on my body because I’ve realised I’m going to grow so much and it’s a part of the image when I ‘become a man’. I stopped shaving because I realised I didn’t want to conform to what people thought me, as a woman, or even as a transman, or a cisman, should look like. I might still shave my face, I might still pluck my eyebrows, but I will do that no matter what my gender is.