Dan Hislop — Hi Dan! I hope you and your daughter are doing well. My daughter’s story (and haircut) have taken a turn I wanted to share.
I have been wrong before. It’s true that her haircut gave her relief and she was rejecting expectations of femininity. That’s also why she gained about 20lbs that year, her hair got shorter and shorter, and she refused to even look at clothes in the women’s section. Bra shopping brought her to tears.
Turns out that my daughter’s rejection of femininity came from trauma I didn’t know about. She was trying to escape the notice of someone who was a threat to her physical safety. We have since resolved it and removed her from the situation…and she’s growing her hair out again. She’s wearing jewelry and lost 20lbs and shops in the women’s section now. She’s not as scared of her body and no longer feeling that expressing her femaleness equates with inviting unwanted attention and abuse. I’m very proud of the work she has done and only now am I seeing the real her…the one that isn’t full of fear and shame.
The tears during her haircut were far more complex than I knew at the time.
All that being said, I love her regardless of how she presents herself to the world. I’ve come to believe that “gender identity” is just the performance of stereotypes. We all express how we feel most comfortable and I will love her wherever she stands on the M/F spectrum— long hair or short.
What I’m glad I didn’t do is let her believe that her body was wrong or bad for being female. She’s still attracted to women and I do think her sexual orientation is ingrained. And she still loves her ballcap and sweatshirts and we joke that she’s the “lesbo heart throb” at her school — because she is. ;) She has lots of time to explore and figure it all out.
But she was working on something with her self expression and now that she’s got it figured out, she is even more capable of expressing her truest self. I hope you and your daughter are doing well and are sending love and light to you both.