I want a feminine face, a beautiful face. But years of testosterone and poor hygiene have given me a red and rugged complexion with open pores, and a square, boxy (and these days fat) looking face.
When an attractive young woman takes a selfie on her phone with my face next to hers, I cannot help but see the two faces side by side and say “I hate my face. I look ugly.”
I am transgender. I accept that now. For many years I didn’t. But then I’m not a “typical” transgender person either. I do not hate my penis. And I feel non-gendered inside.
But nevertheless I do want to look feminine. I hate my masculine face. I love make-up and want to look pretty.
But make-up is scary, daunting for someone who was never raised as a girl; someone who never learnt how to apply make-up as a teenager or a child. Now I am forty years old and the only make-up I wore as a teenager was the crude, gothic, black and white kind. Ghostly white face, with black lipstick and black nail varnish. That was as far as my teenage exploration of make-up went. Anything more complex was applied to my face by the expert attentions of a female. I didn’t take notes.
Later in my life I horded lipsticks of different colours. And almost never wore any of it, except for the occasional secretive act of rebellion against gender norms… furtively, when my wife wasn’t looking.
So my skills are unformed, clumsy, confused. And it’s all so complicated! Primer, foundation, concealer, powder, bronzer, blusher… So many names! What does it all mean? And then there are the wealth of colours available for eye shadow and lipstick. But how do I know which ones will suit my complexion?
And the old familiar fear. How can I browse the make-up section of Boots or Superdrug when dressed as and looking like a man? How can I feel confident enough to take my time and look properly at the products I am buying when I can feel everyone’s eyes looking at me? Should I ask for help from a shop assistant or make-up artist? Will they criticise or ridicule me for asking about women’s make-up when I am (to their eyes at least) a man?
But I know I must master this. I must conquer this obstacle. I may be androgynous, non-gendered, or inbetween genders in my own mind but that is only one of my truths about gender. The other truth about my gender, is that I wish to transition socially to being a woman: an androgynous lesbian woman to be precise.
And before I can figure out what I want to wear, or how I want to have my hair, in order to look like the woman I feel I am or could be, I first need to get my face right. Because that ugly, masculine horror that stares back at me from the mirror is eating away my self-esteem and obscuring my eyes from seeing the real me. Even when I’m having a good mirror day, when my face looks unusually good looking in my eyes, it still doesn’t look completely right to me. My face is too male. It’s a trans thing. And it’s why, however daunting it might be at forty years of age, I need to learn to do make-up.