Mansitioning, and How I Learned to Let Go
by Lawrence Watford
Before you read any further, I should warn you that I am a man. And you are probably wondering what a man could possibly tell you about transitioning, so let me let list my credentials. I’m a husband, a certified “momma’s boy”, used to rock an S-curl (don’t laugh—it was a 90s teenage thing) and up until a few months ago, my hair (locs) was longer than just about any woman I’d come into contact with. But with all of that, if you still believe that I’m unqualified to tell you about transitioning, then you’ve missed the point of the great India Aire song “I Am Not My Hair.” You see, as a momma’s boy, I know that it was rare that my mother ever decided to make a drastic change to her hair that wasn’t a product of some change that was happening on the inside.
We all are continually growing and evolving and at certain points during that process, that growth culminates into something visible and outward. That culmination is what I would describe as transitioning; a point where, for whatever reason we make a personal commitment and declaration to become someone different. In high school and college you probably went transitioning crazy, going from hairstyle to hairstyle, and while you think you were keeping in fashion, you were actually looking for identity. Years later, the only difference is that your identity is a dance between outer peer pressure from society and your deeply personal experiences.
I had my locs for 13 years. I began them in college and kept them through my wedding, and the births of my first two children. To a large degree, my ”artsyness” my individuality, my attractiveness were to my locs. For many people, myself included, they were my identity, so much so that when my wife would say “hey babe, I think it’s time to cut your hair” I’d reply “Sure, after you cut yours.” The “nagging” from my wife went on and on until one morning, out of the blue she asked me to cut them again, and something hit me; my locs had metastasized into a representation of my inability to let go of things. Once I came to that realization, I visited Masusu Kinks in Newport News, VA., where I first locked my hair in college and had the woman who first twisted my hair cut it. My wife watched in tears (of joy) as my oldest boy (4 years) danced around with my hair and my youngest boy starred as if someone was cutting off my limbs.
As I look back, its funny that it only took 20 short minutes to undo more than 13 years of work. And contrary to those mythical rumors, I did not feel some mystical release of chi or rush of energy. What I did feel was liberated and proud of the fact that I had made a declaration of my willingness to let go of things that held me down and held me back.
Now, there are many reasons that people transition. I’ve heard of women going natural for reasons as diverse as divorce to cost of maintenance. For one person it could be employment and for another it might be a simple desire to try something new. There is no good or bad reason or way to transition, so long as accompanies growth.
BTW: two days after I cut my locs, my wife and I found out that we were expecting another baby—a girl this time! Now how’s that for a transitioning story?
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