My nonbinary girlfriend wants to get a beard

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vambrace
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My nonbinary girlfriend wants to get a beard

Unread post by vambrace »

Hi! Oh man I've been asking for a lot of advice lately. Okay so some quick info on me and my girlfriend: I'm a nonbinary (vaguely agender?) aroace person who is nonetheless in a happy, committed romantic relationship. We've been together in an LDR for 4.5 years and I really love being partners with my girlfriend. We are finally moving in together in August!

And here's where I need advice. My girlfriend is also nonbinary and I *think* has said she's okay being referred to as transmasc. She definitely wants a sort of transmasc transition - she uses both she and he pronouns, wears men's clothes, and wants to go on T, partly for facial hair reasons. She like, really wants a beard.

And here is where my issue lies: I do not like beards. I find them really unattractive. There are tons of characters or actors who I have said "I WOULD love how they look, but, the beard" about. I can't think of a single person I find attractive who has a beard. Imagining characters or people who don't have beards with them has often made me uncomfortable, especially if they're characters I consider myself "into" - including cis men, so although I wouldn't be surprised if I've internalized some gender hangups about facial hair, they're definitely not the only factor here. I do not have a ton of preferences - potentially because I'm ace, so any physical/aesthetic attraction lacks a sexual component - but this is a pretty big one I have always had.

With that said: my girlfriend really wants a beard! And he wants to go on T to get it once we start living together! And I want to be a good partner to him and encourage his transition and the things that will make him feel happy and more fulfilled in his gender, but I'm just so worried this one hangup is going to make me find him less attractive and maybe even actively make me uncomfortable (not like, with him or in our relationship but conceptually/re: the visual component). Even if this wasn't so tied up in gender, I know I don't have a right to make body decisions for my partner, so I wouldn't want to stop him. But I don't know how to make myself okay with this so I can stop having a background process "hhhh" emotion every time he talks about it and actually give him the support he needs.

Does anyone have advice for dealing with a partner making a change that goes strongly against your preferences? How did you make yourself okay with it, or even excited for it?
Emily N
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Re: My nonbinary girlfriend wants to get a beard

Unread post by Emily N »

Hey vambrace!

Moving in with your girlfriend sounds exciting!

You say - “And I want to be a good partner to him and encourage his transition and the things that will make him feel happy and more fulfilled in his gender”. I think it’s awesome that you are addressing your discomfort with beards from this perspective. I agree that it’s important to make your girlfriend feel supported during his transition. It is normal for partners to have and navigate different preferences in a relationship, but it sounds like a beard is a really important step for your girlfriend in embracing their identity - it also sounds like you already know this too!

But it’s also okay for you to have feelings and reactions! Have you and your girlfriend had conversations about how his transition may play a role in your relationship? You don’t have to tell your girlfriend you don’t like beards, but opening communication about how you feel overall is still a good idea.

Do you know what it is about beards that makes you most uncomfortable? Maybe there is a way to address these discomforts rather than the beard. Now that you have built a relationship over time with your girlfriend, do you think your feelings of a beard on him will feel different than it does when you are thinking about actors/characters/strangers? It’s also possible you will grow more comfortable over time as his beard grows after starting T.
vambrace
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Re: My nonbinary girlfriend wants to get a beard

Unread post by vambrace »

@ Emily - It is, thank you! :D

We've talked a little bit about it, but not a ton, mostly about who should be the one to tell my parents (who we'll be living in the same city as) and what sort of language he likes to use. I don't want to say it hasn't been relevant, just that it hasn't really changed a lot about our relationship - she's the same person as always, and I love her as much as ever, and for as many things that have changed (like pronouns), others have stayed the same (like her preferring "girlfriend"). Overall, I would say I feel really positive about it. But I do think it's worth bringing up again, now that you mention it. One thing I could talk about is that in the past, it's been important to her/us that we read as girlfriends. After working out my own identity I'm no longer invested in this (it's not accurate anymore from my end, but nobody is going to see us on the street and assume my correct identity, so whatever misinterpretation is easiest and makes her happiest is good enough for me), but it would be worth it to talk about how that might change with her transition.

Upon reflecting on it, I honestly think there's two reasons. The first is that I don't like any comments being made about my appearance, positive or otherwise, so it's really hard for me to remember to compliment my girlfriend physically too. I already get nervous complimenting his outfit or appearance because all compliments make me uncomfortable and it makes giving compliments really uncomfortable too because I have trouble getting out of that mindset regarding other people. So I think part of my concern is that if I find his appearance very cute and attractive right now and I already struggle to compliment him properly, I'll get even worse at it if there's an element I'm not personally into.

The second is that I do really bad with changes. Your comment about "It’s also possible you will grow more comfortable over time as his beard grows after starting T" and comparing it to actors/characters made me realize that a lot of my discomfort comes from imagining someone who is currently completely bare-faced with a full beard, lol. My dad has a beard and so do a couple of my favorite characters - all people I'm not into, but all people I feel really weird imagining clean shaven. So it's likely I'm sort of neutrally not into beards and the discomfort comes from imagining a sudden physical change. So maybe it's possible that the gradual nature of the change - especially since we'll be living together when he's on T - will help me ease into it a lot better!
Sam W
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Re: My nonbinary girlfriend wants to get a beard

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi Vambrace,'

It sounds like you've done a lot of reflecting on these feelings and where they're coming from, which is a great step! I think talking with your girlfriend about how or if they want your relationship to read going forward could be really helpful, as could talking about whether and how he likes to be complimented. When you're someone who finds compliments feel odd to give (for whatever reason), it can help to talk with a partner about what kinds of compliments, or language in general, makes them feel loved or wanted in a relationship, so you're not stuck guessing.

I do want to chime in as someone whose partner went from clean shaven to bearded; the gradual nature of the change really does help, as did the fact that growing a beard was a very gender-affirming act for him and thus made him really happy. And it's in many ways good practice for getting used to the fact that a partner's appearance will change in all sorts of ways as time goes one (just like mine will).
vambrace
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Location: Florida

Re: My nonbinary girlfriend wants to get a beard

Unread post by vambrace »

@ Sam - Both of these are really good conversations to have and I will make sure to do so!

I am really glad to hear that the gradual component makes it easier to adjust to! Ha, yeah, I do have some experience w/ that (my girlfriend gained a lot of weight the first two years of our relationship due to (positive) health reasons, and is constantly changing his hair color) and I think trying to reframe this in my head to be more like that will probably help, too!
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