Dana transitions to true self with electrolysis
Leaving his life behind to pursue a male to female transition was going to be difficult, but Don knew his true self was a woman. From the outside, Don N. had it all: he lived in a small community in central New York, he had a wife and two children, and he had a successful career in broadcasting. But on the inside, Don knew he was hiding his true self, a difference he had sensed since the age of five. To fully become who he knew he was, everything would have to change.
Dana needed and found a permanent solution for unwanted hair
Don is now in the process of gender transitioning and lives full time as Dana. "It took a job change and a life change. Finally, I moved to Vermont and was able to explore myself," Dana explains. "This is where my dreams have taken me. And for me to progress into womanhood, I had to make some changes medically and physically in my appearance."
Dana began to go out in public, but found it difficult to achieve the look she wanted during the gender transition period. "To start living as a woman, you can't go out wearing a ton of makeup. I looked like a drag queen, and I didn't want to look that way," she explains. "I'm not a drag queen. I'm a woman, and I wanted to look like a woman and blend."
Dana knew something had to be done to successfully manage her unwanted hair - a common issue among both women and men - but particularly difficult for male to female transitions. While some transgendered individuals will shave, wax, or remove unwanted hair through other means, to achieve womanly beauty, many seek a permanent solution.
Dana says when she accepted a promotion and moved to Vermont, she was fortunate to have found a built-in support group in the community. "That's when things really started to rock and roll. Everything felt so perfectly normal and progressing with my transition was that much easier."
The recommendation: electrolysis
Common choices for removing larger amounts of hair include both laser and electrolysis. Laser can quickly remove large areas of hair at a time. But as the only FDA-approved permanent hair removal solution, electrolysis came highly recommended. "I struggled with that decision forever," she says. "I talked with other transgender people, and they said if you want it to be permanent and this is the way you're going to live, try electrolysis."
A member of Dana's new support network recommended Dana visit Michelle O'Brien, CPE, from Burlington Studio of Electrolysis, to manage her unwanted hair. In the initial consultation, Michelle explained the difference between laser and electrolysis. "Everything she told me coincided with what others had said and what I had read. It wasn't a lot of hoopla," says Dana. The fact that electrolysis is permanent was a deciding factor for Dana, so she began the process of letting her femininity shine through.
Today, Dana has been working with Michelle for more than two years, in a quest to reveal her internal beauty to the world. The first step was removing her heavy beard, one which she would otherwise have to shave twice a day. All told, it took about 110 hours of work to clear her beard, time that Dana says was well worth it, "That was pretty remarkable for the amount of hair I had."
The treatments have not always been easy. Dana says before she began hormonal treatments, her skin was tougher and thicker. But after about four months of hormones, her skin became more sensitive. To manage the treatments, she follows a routine: she avoids alcohol the night before because of its dehydrating effects, she drinks three glasses of water before the treatment, and takes over-the-counter pain reliever to manage any discomfort.
Trust is important
But the most important aspect of the process of electrolysis, Dana says, is finding the right electrologist. "It's important because you develop a close bond with this person. She knows why I'm there. She knows my story. You're modifying your body in a way, and it's a very personal matter," she says. "Michelle was really nice, very thorough, and very committed --- and she is just an awesome woman. I equate her with my therapist. She's seen me cry. She's seen me laugh. She's shared some of her life with me and I've shared a lot of mine with her."
Knowing and trusting your electrologist is an important consideration for all women who struggle to reveal their true beauty, says Dana. "For women with excess hair, it's a very personal issue and it's important to be comfortable with someone. Women don't like to share that they have issues like that."
"When I need to see clients for such an extended period of time due to the vast amount of hair to be removed, I can't help but develop a close, working relationship with them," explains Michelle. "It is one of the main reasons I love what I do. To know that I am helping Dana feel better about herself with each treatment makes me feel wonderful, too."
An amazing change
Michelle says when Dana first began seeing her for treatments, Dana needed to wear heavy pancake makeup to cover the shadow of her beard. "I told her from the beginning that eventually, when the hair is gone, she would probably only need a tinted moisturizer to even out her skin tone. Now, she has done even better - just the lightest of powders is needed to reduce any oily sheen on the skin," says Michelle. "Her skin looks amazing."
Dana continues to see Michelle weekly for body areas, but the face is only treated every three weeks, for 45 minutes at a time, to touch up any random hairs in new growth cycles. "I'm working on my torso, because a hairy woman is not an attractive thing," says Dana. "Last summer, I was shaving, and the actual ingrown hairs and the rash I had were terrible."
Now 125 hours into treatment, Dana is looking forward to having other areas of unwanted hair removed, and down the road, addressing other areas, she says. "I may do my underarms. And Michelle is dying to do my eyebrows."
In the end, the time commitment, the financial commitment, and any discomfort are all worth it, according to Dana. "It's the same in my life. None of the results are painless, but it makes you who you are. It allows me to live my everyday existence and be who I am." Dana says, "It gives you the confidence to go out in public, blend, and be who you are."
From a young boy who knew he was different, to a successful broadcaster and father in a small town in New York, to a beautiful woman living out her dreams in Vermont, Dana says electrolysis played a vital role in her transition to her true self. "It's helped me become me," she says.