Does Transitioning Ever End?…Nope.

Transgender stories

Guest Post by Danielle Badler

I thought my process of transitioning ended with my Gender Affirmation Surgery in December.

I was wrong.  I don’t think it will ever end.

And I don’t just mean mentally.  That’s a given.  Because, if you don’t stop growing and learning, you fall behind… as a human.  It’s the way of the world, which keeps moving forward, inexorably.

No, I mean physically, too.

I colored my hair last week.

Big deal, you say? Hey, how do you feel about your presentation, how people view you, what happens when you look at yourself in the mirror? Do you like it?  Not like it? Does it say who you are? How you’d like to appear to people?

Show me someone who truly doesn’t care about all this, and I’ll show you a liar.

These thoughts ran through my brain as I watched the stylist paint this goo onto my scalp. Thick goo. Matted.

We had scanned a book of “swatches” of color, trying to decide how far to go from my natural gray/white/fly away mane that was floating down across my shoulders in unkempt bunches of hair balls. You could blow on it, and it would tangle into a mess of discombobulated hair strands.

“Not too much,” I implored. “I don’t want drama. I want something that will complement me, my complexion, my persona.”

She said I should remember, the color will thicken my hair, give it body, which she said I desperately needed.

Yes, I said, I understand.  But I also don’t want or need another set of every-two-week appointments to cover my gray roots.  My life is already filled with weekly to every-three- week visits for voice, nails, hair removal from places where I don’t want it.

As I was contemplating that true paradox, she said that, by going from gray to a blonde shade, I should only need touch-ups every five or six weeks.

Hmm, I said.  And we chose a light honey blonde tint.

She walked me to one of those clamshell hair dryers that angle and bend over your head, without touching.  And she handed me a stack of fashion magazines to thumb through.

And then we walked back to her chair, where she proceeded to dry, curl and blow out.  And I viewed my new color for the first time.

Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone else in the salon is programmed to drift by and offer their opinions, and they’re all always upbeat and positive?  Terrific.  You look years younger.  It really compliments your complexion.  Just the right look for you.

Like on cue.

Meanwhile, I quizzed my stylist endlessly, on what devices she was using, her curling technique with a round brush.  Wait, I said, grabbing her arm, what’s that spray?  Is that a mousse?  Why are you using that brand?

I wish I had a photographic memory.

But we made do with my cellphone’s camera.  Stills and video from every angle.

And I thought about how fortunate I was that I still had hair.  A full head of hair.  That I didn’t need to cycle through synthetic and man-made wigs to find a coif that suits me.

And how fortunate I was to be able to sample the shampoos, the conditioners, the mousses, the gels, the hairsprays, the brushes, the curling devices that, if those magazines I was reading were to be believed, were all guaranteed to change my life, in wonderous ways I could have never imagined.

My God, I said to myself.  This is another step deeper, deeper than ever before.  How deep before I get the bends?

And will I actually ever come up for air?

That realization surfaced the next day.  When I had to wash my hair… and then try to mimic what the stylist was able to deftly accomplish, and which she accomplished without so much as a strand of frustration.

I whipped out my cellphone.  I played the videos.  I grabbed my round brush.  I turned my hair dryer to high heat.  I tried.  I tried some more.  My arms got tired, from hanging and dangling over my head.

Oh no, I said to myself.  My round brush is thicker in diameter than the one she used.  I need to get a thinner one.  I need a hairspray that’s lighter, that’s not too sticky.  What was the brand of mousse she used?

Yeah, that’s the ticket!  And then.  And then I’ll be able to do it, and I’ll be satisfied.

So I made my way to Walgreen’s, and Rite Aid and Bed, Bath and Beyond.  And I scanned the aisles, aisle upon aisle, stacked with products, all designed to solve your problems, change your life, in one way or another.

And then I realized… I’ve just entered another stage in the process.  It will, indeed, never end.

Author Bio

Danielle BadlerNew York native, Danielle Badler embarked on a writing and communications consulting career in early 2007, following more than 30 years in corporate communications, the last ten as the chief global communications officer for three Fortune 500 companies. That experience involved six corporate relocations, including a year in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Her work includes facilitating executive peer group meetings for The Conference Board in New York, as well as regular articles and columns for the Porsche Club of America, and

Danielle is also very active in community involvement, as the Board President of Alliance Francaise de Denver and a board member of the National Federation of Alliance Francaises, as well as a member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press Association. She is also on the Board of Directors for the GLBT Center of Denver.

A graduate of Case Western Reserve University, where she co-edited her college newspaper, Danielle now calls Denver home. She can be reached at

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  • Susan

    January 20, 2015 at 6:22 PM Reply

    Hi Danielle, It sounds like you’ve entered the world where there really are no answers! I don’t know a single person who can get their hair to look like what the stylist did. I hope you’re enjoying yourself. Can’t wait to see you in person.

  • Emma

    January 27, 2015 at 3:36 PM Reply

    First, your updated picture looks just darling. love the color Danielle.
    Second, this article actually reminded me of some of the ideas that Kate Bornstein talked about in her book “My Gender Workbook” and that I’ve taken quite to heart since reading them; and that is that we are constantly in a state of change, of growth, of expansion. Gender and gender expression really are no exceptions either.

    To me, it seems like most of world likes to think of gender as this static, never changing part to identity. Even transgender people seem to want to grasp onto their identified gender and think of it as something that will never change, but I have found the opposite to be true. Our identities are always in a state of change, and if gender is an integral part to identity for many of us, then doesn’t it stand to reason that our genders also continue to evolve with us? You related a story about going to the salon and coloring your hair, and in so doing you recognized that you are still growing, still learning, still finding new and better ways to express yourself.

    I’d like to echo your sentiments by suggesting that your transition will never end because it’s tied to your gender, and your gender is never going to be static. The gender you had as a child, as an adolescent, as a young adult, and as a mature adult were all different from each other. Sure there were similarities because it was still you, but how many small changes occurred during each of those stages? Didn’t you (and everyone else for that matter) make changes to your preferences, to the way you talked, to the ideas you had, to the beliefs you held, to the values you upheld?

    I think you’ve stumbled onto something very special by recognizing that you can never “get it done.” You will always be discovering new things about yourself and your gender as you progress through your life and by embracing that understanding, you give yourself a degree of freedom that so many people deny themselves. By embracing that it’s always growing, always expanding, always becoming more, you can learn to shrug off the silly or petty things about life and start to move beyond the boundaries you previously set for yourself.

    Western culture adheres so heavily to this idea that “once I get everything into place, then I will be happy.” which is just an insane way to go about anything. There will never be a “completion” that guarantees happiness because life is always evolving forward. By shifting the perspective from trying to find a completed or stationary state to one of enjoying the changes and growths as they happen, a sense of peace and harmony is allowed to come in. Life becomes a never ending stream of moments to be experienced and embraced instead of some means to an end (that doesn’t actually exist). You can begin to move WITH the flow of life instead of working against it in order to find a place of completion.

    Okay, I can put my soap box away now, but I found your realization moving because it was evident of a larger shift in consciousness than even you might have realized. Embrace the ever changing, ever expanding life you are living and you’ll find so much to be happy and excited about. You are infinite in your potential, so don’t ever forget it. =)

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