The time to have another body shave is approaching. I do it in two halves: hands and arms in one half; legs in the other. Both every three weeks or so. In between I'll routinely clear sections of my upper pubic hair to provide space for the hormone patches, and I'll shave under my arms as often as every other day, depending on what tops or dresses I'm going to wear.
There's still a couple of hairs on my chest that have the temerity to sprout, even though most of their brethren have long given up trying; I check them every day, and if they're peeping out, they get the shaver. Ker-pow!
So far as I can tell, there's now no visible hair anywhere else on my body. I never was especially hirsute, and the hormones have completely subdued hair growth on my back and other places.
I use an ordinary men's wet shaver by Gillette, with Mach 3 blades, and gel by the same manufacturer. Just as I did pre-transition. I expect to keep on shaving my face for a while yet, although the end of daily shaving is now in sight, and I may be able to stop shaving my face and neck entirely sometime in 2013. Next year I may have to upgrade to Gillette's latest wet shaver, but what I use just now is more than adequate.
I don't use any fancy shavers intended for ladies. What's the point? The men's version is heavy-duty, designed to clear all types of hair - including tough bristly facial hair - as efficiently as possible, and yet still leave the skin smooth and undamaged. That's what I want. I have no hang-ups about needing to use only girly stuff. I don't have qualms about what people might think if I buy men's razor refills or gel. I could be buying it for my husband or live-in boyfriend. The two women I lived with in my life both used cheap throw-away wet razors, bought in packets, for their under-arms and legs. One packet lasted a very long time. I never noticed them hestating to buy whatever they needed. It's a fact of life with most women: they need to shave bits of their body now and then. So there's no need for any trans woman to feel the slightest embarrassment about getting rid of her own body hair.
I have to admit that the body shaving is rather a mission. A big task that will take over an hour if I do both halves and do it meticulously. But I love the result. Feeling smooth is wonderful. I still get a kick out of it. When I started in December 2008 I had to do it every week. The time between shaves has gradually lengthened, and presently stands (as mentioned above) at a much more reasonable three weeks. And even at three weeks, there is little to see, as my body hair is very light-coloured and has acquired a fine texture. It's there if you look for it, but really it hardly shows, and nowadays I could let it go for a month and still not seem under-groomed. But I wouldn't do that, because it means a lot to me to keep my body hair under control.
I'm sure every one of us felt horrified when, in puberty, hair began to pour relentlessly from follicles. I certainly felt deadful. I absolutely loathed the 'young man' look. It was no feather in my cap to be showing these signs of manhood. It was just as upsetting to see it in other teenagers. And although I hated school, and longed to get out into the real world, I really didn't want to do it with a craggy face and a blue chin. Ugh. And once launched into a career, I took every opportunity to find ways of keeping masculinity within manageable bounds. My younger brother felt different. He grew a moustache, and took to smoking a pipe - a deliberately old-fashioned affectation even then, in the mid 1970s - and generally adopted all kinds of very male mannerisms. I did not. And I continued to fret over many aspects of my appearance, body hair chief among them.
And I never stopped fretting in the following thirty years. A succession of girlfriends, my wife W---, and my later partner M--- must all have noticed it. It was perhaps the only consistent sign that I was not happy with my body. If it was put to me that I'd look really good in a beard, just like a viking, or (later on) that I'd look great with sexy 'designer stubble', or if it was suggested that should let my chest hair grow (I started shaving it off early on), they all got a panicky vehement NO!! from me that must have seemed very odd. In fact I do wonder why my apparent fetish with shaving, giving it unusual priority even in circumstances when I could be excused the chore, didn't trigger searching questions and an early discovery that I had a gender problem. That and my occasional experiments with girly glasses, unisex clothes and ambiguous hairstyles - whatever I might get away with. But then I didn't 'get it' myself. I simply thought I was different.
I've got an electrolysis session today, my 49th. Next time I'll present Roz with a bottle of wine to mark the 50th occasion. Yesterday, although I hadn't shaved for about 30 hours, you couldn't see any of the stubble in that 'Mexican moustache' area of my face that we've been working on. It's almost defeated. But I could feel it. So I still feel a bit wobbly about public appearances in the run-up to an electrolysis session. But one day soon there'll just be fine hair, and no stubble, and when we get to that it'll be champagne!