Maybe I’m stating the obvious,
but when I started growing a beard this year, as a part of a New Year’s resolution to just be a hairier, happier human being — I wondered what facial hair would do my gender performance. I have messed around with facial hair in the past, but that was back before I changed my presentation drastically. With infinity scarves and fanciful flourishes came a clean-shaven look, and that felt right. That’s the me that a lot of people first met, everyone in the social justice academia space, whether it be secularists, the LGBTQ community, feminists, or all of the above, they met clean-shaved me. And hopefully they picked up on some queues I was throwing out there.
I suppose the concern about growing a beard was two-fold: I did not want to be perceived as being more masculine, nor did I want so sub-consciously start acting more masculine just because I was getting beardy.
But growing a beard didn’t change anything!
At least, it didn’t change anything about my gender performance. My overall style does feel a little bit different because it’s not a tightly-trimmed beard, so the whole “fancy flourishes” thing feels like it’s become a “scruffy artist” persona.
The most interesting thing about my beard is that I think it actually highlights anything feminine about my gender performance, rather than mask it. It creates contrast; it might make feminine performances more surprising; more jarring; it might make someone stop and think.