I still feel like I’m living two parallel realities–one says I look more like a guy every day, yay belly hair and defined shoulder muscles. The other parallel voice says I look too much like a woman to ever pass, it’s hopeless, it’ll never happen, wallow in despair. These two perspectives exist in my head at the same exact time.
I’d had it pierced in 2004 in Richmond Virginia. But I took it out three years later, on the ill-advice of a boyfriend who only lasted a fraction of the time that the piecing did.
I’d always wanted it back. In the intervening years, though, the lies told to middle-aged women about what they have to look like in order to be tolerated took root in my head, and intimidated me out of anything so “punk” or “immature”.
I felt I was just barely skating by, appearance-wise, as a female-presenting person. Better not rock the boat, or I may not be allowed to make a living.
Obviously I’m now past caring about any of that.
So I looked up piercers in New Orleans for the third time. The first two investigations had led me to getting my nipple done during Pride last year — but both the initial piercer, and the repiercer at another store, poked it crooked. So I’d taken it out after a week. I’d also eventually realized that I’m not ready to have pierced nips again until my chest is flat.
This time I went to Pigment Tattoo on Magazine Street. I was happy with the piercing placement. The piercer managed to get the jewelry to line up exactly with the tiny scar left by the old piercing. It was a bit low on the inside of my lip, but I didn’t expect that to make much difference.
Instantly after the jewelry was in, all the memories returned of when I’d had a labret stud before. The sense of alien heaviness in my lip, the feeling that the jewelry was way bigger than it was, but pleasantly so. It was meant to be there, it felt good there. I’d get used to it.
I walked out of the place feeling proud and defiant.
It might not seem like a big deal to other pierced people. It’s a small piece of jewelry, and it’s my only body piercing at present. But it’s a facial piercing, on a middle-aged transgender guy in the conservative South.
And to me it feels like both an assertion of my gender, and of the fact that I’m not going to be a gender-conforming man even when I do pass as one. So it’s a big deal to me.
The same piercing, 2007 vs. 2017: