Hair Color Question, Trans Woman Edition
August 9, 2014 11:17 AM   Subscribe

I need some opinions and advice on hair color and style. I am for all intents and purposes "out" IRL now and I am trying to get all the parts of this nascent girlmode dialed in. Right now everyone I talk to is pretty divided between the "color your hair" and "NO OMFG SALT AND PEPPER IS BEAUTIFUL!" camps. What I feel is missing is a little nuance here.

Pics for Reference:,Oq8SDp8,Ofe7sBk
(taken after a really freaking hot bike ride..),Oq8SDp8,Ofe7sBk#1
(top view),Oq8SDp8,Ofe7sBk#2
(taken a few days ago at a coffee shop)

Basically, is leaving my hair salt and pepper reinforcing a guy mode that I am trying to leave behind, or is it possible to keep my hair looking like this and be read properly as "actual real life woman over there" as opposed to "who is that gay boy wearing eyeliner?"

What I *think* is that I want to go blond with pink/blue highlights and that will basically put a pretty hefty thumb on the scale of "yup, she's a girl". However when I bring this up people are so fervently in the "NOOOOO!!!!" camp that I am now second guessing myself.

As far as personal preference goes, I can go either way considering strictly how it looks. Coloring my hair would be a hell of a lot of fun, but I also dig the grey and brown streaks. However from being read as my proper gender I am concerned that keeping the salt and pepper will make being out in the world as trans lady harder.

So, my questions are:
Color it to help with being properly gendered?
Don't color it and do X instead to compensate?

Also, any observations you can offer regarding hair style and womanhood will be greatly appreciated.
posted by Annika Cicada to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (69 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I think you look properly gendered with it as-is in the photos, just as a point of reference. Colouring it will make you look a bit younger, just as an FYI. And since you wear your hair short, if you change your mind, it's super easy to just let the colour grow out.

But in general, I'd throw away what other people say/think and go with what you like.

I love your hairstyle, and think it would be super adorable as blonde with pink/blue highlights.
posted by dotgirl at 11:24 AM on August 9, 2014 [7 favorites]

I think your salt-and-pepper is gorgeous. It does not read as not-female to me; it reads as kick-ass female who is rocking the salt-and-pepper.

That said, hair color is fun to experiment with, and since you wear your hair pretty short, it's not like it would take you long to grow your hair out back to the same style in its natural color. So my vote is play with color if you feel like it, but don't do it solely because you're worried that your current hair is working against your gender presentation.
posted by scody at 11:26 AM on August 9, 2014 [53 favorites]

In my opinion, you TOTALLY rock the salt and pepper hair and you 100% look like a lady. A stylish one, at that. Some women can really pull it off and make it look (for lack a better term) NYC chic, and you are one of them. So don't worry at all about not being gendered properly.

But if you want to experiment with coloring your hair, go for it! It's fun and if you don't like it you can color over it. But I would be careful with pink/blue highlights - I think it can read like you're trying too hard to appear young and female.
posted by joan_holloway at 11:26 AM on August 9, 2014 [8 favorites]

Dude (non-gendered "dude", the way I call my mother "dude") -- the gray looks awesome and, as a cis woman in her 30s, if I saw you I'd totally think "woman". The style reads a little edgy and/or butch, so if I saw you on the street I'd absolutely think you were either a lesbian or an edgy creative professional type (or both, obvs). Based on these pictures I don't think you need to do anything to compensate.

If you want to go more femme that's another story. Hair style and womanhood is a vast subject and there are so many factors that play into it, so knowing what you're aiming for would help.
posted by katemonster at 11:27 AM on August 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

I agree with everything that dotgirl and scody said. Your hair is great, and I also dig the grey and brown streaks, but I think it would look fun with fun colors, too.
posted by wintersweet at 11:27 AM on August 9, 2014

I don't think the color is making you look masculine at all. (That is, I don't think you look masculine, and the color is certainly not taking away from your presenting as female.)

As a late-30-something cis woman who started going gray-ish fairly early (early 20s), and who recently died most of my hair (I have a gray streak in the front that I like, and that I kept), and who did not keep up the color, I will say: Having the grey streaks in my hair colored definitely earned me subtle approval for performing femininity. I got noticed and treated by strangers (waiters, baristas, etc.) slightly more respectfully. Now that it's grown out, I'm back to being treated politely but being mostly ignored.

So I would say that you certainly don't need to color it to present as female, but you may want to color it if you want to present as more feminine. Which is more of a gender-expression choice than a gender-identity choice, I think?
posted by jaguar at 11:28 AM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't color it, and do nothing instead to compensate. Your hair looks great, and so do you.
posted by zebra at 11:28 AM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

yea, I can see why people would tell you not to dye it - you totally rock the salt-n-pepper, it looks very fetching on you.

what about just adding a pink or blue streak? just isolate a chunk of hair right in the middle of the part that has a lot of gray in it, and give it a good dousing of fun colour. Since the hair is white already, you wouldn't have to bleach it for the colour to show up, so it would be really easy.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:29 AM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think it's super cute the way it is!

However, if you want to try some color, I think it would also look really cute in a nice auburn/reddish brown just on top, leaving the sides white/gray. I think the color on top with light sides would look really chic and modern.

Plus, not dying the sides makes upkeep a bit easier for re-dying. I too have a pixie cut and I would advise against going with multiple colors, at least from the start, since upkeep is really tough on short hair + color.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:30 AM on August 9, 2014

Don't dye it! Your natural color is very elegant looking! (That cut would look so great with some dangly earrings too - if you're into that!)
posted by mdrew at 11:34 AM on August 9, 2014

I think you should go to a salon and ask for professional feedback on what color would look good on you and express your desire to play with your look and ask for temporary hair dye, say, on some Friday and you can just wash it out and go back to normal if it doesn't thrill you.

I think maybe part of what you are wanting here is a stereotypically female experience of doing stuff with your hair. I think you can view the experience of dying your hair as a right of passage without getting all hung up on it being a permanent change. It doesn't have to be a permanent change.

I have naturally curly hair. I have never had a perm and never had it straightened and only once ever had it dyed at my mother's insistence. I get read by a lot of people as very, very feminine so I don't find it real threatening that I don't have a lot of these experiences but I am sometimes acutely aware that it is a way in which I don't fit in with most women. I have had women complain to me about "Oh, I just had my hair permed and can't wash it for 24 hours. You know how that is." and my reply is "No, I don't know how that is. My perm is a permanent perm. I was born with these curls." But I have had blonde hair (from sun and pool water/ocean water) and I have had red hair (from a henna shampoo) and I have had all kinds of different lengths of hair and hairstyles and yadda.

From what I gather, it's those kinds of experiences -- call it the culture of femininity -- that trans individuals often long for the most and struggle with parsing and trying to figure out. And I think if you view it as an experience you are seeking and not some RIGHT ANSWER, it will take a lot of the pressure off.
posted by Michele in California at 11:40 AM on August 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Personal opinion here: Those pics read strongly female to me (although that's without seeing how your movement and expression and so forth play into it).

Your hair is awesome, and the salt and pepper is quite reminiscent of the kind of highlights people pay good money for and which also read feminine.

I also think that going really full on non-subtle dye job could (possibly possibly) call attention to the performance aspect of the gender presentation in the same way that really heavy makeup and short club wear can read "drag" on people who are struggling to read 100% female. But YMM totally V.

+1 big interesting earrings.
posted by emilyw at 11:42 AM on August 9, 2014 [7 favorites]

As far as personal style goes, I am going for a tomboy femme style.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:42 AM on August 9, 2014

Your hair is amazing. I think going blond might be a little harsh for your coloring and make you look less feminine, honestly.

You totally read as a rockin' woman. "Tomboy femme" is EXACTLY how I'd describe you.
posted by erst at 11:45 AM on August 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

You look GREAT. I am jealous as hell (blonde here, will never have the gorgeous salt and pepper hair), and it doesn't read masculine to me. It reads woman with independence/personality, for what that's worth.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:47 AM on August 9, 2014

Oh my God yes to blonde with pink or blue highlights! Because what's not to like?
And if it ends up not looking good on you, grow it out again. Messing around with and messing up hair color is such a female experience, I think you should do it and have fun. Choose crazy colors!
posted by Omnomnom at 11:47 AM on August 9, 2014

Hair grows, do what you want.

Your gray is so amazingly stylistic that I don't think it reads guy mode at all. But I think it's super gross when other people act like it's a matter of life or death to make a change and order you to do one or the other. It's hair, it's not global politics. You're allowed to experiment.

The gray will always be there waiting for you. The only downside to coloring now and deciding to go back later is if you are trying to grow your hair out especially long, obviously cutting it back to grow out natural is a setback. But women deal with that all the time, in various ways, and you won't be the first. If you're going to stay in a general pixie realm, it's pretty easy.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:48 AM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I also want to say that I have a few trans friends, and every single one of them colored their hair dramatically at some point early in the transition / living out as a woman process. I never would have told them at the time, but to me it always called more attention to the fact that they were trans and detracted from the "passing" because it looked like a costume they were trying on instead of just being themselves.

It's like they were going through the teenage girl process but as much older women, which I TOTALLY understand, but it wasn't exactly doing them any favors.
posted by erst at 11:49 AM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Your hair is amazing and looks fantastic grey. It doesn't look masculine at all to me,.
posted by oneear at 11:51 AM on August 9, 2014

You read as clearly female on all pictures. I think your hair looks great as it is.
Frankly, pink or blue highlights can easily fall in the "trying too hard" category. If you prefer a tomboy femme style, heavy makeup (I include bright/attention grabbing hair colors in that) just makes no sense to me. Get some nice jewelry or accessories and either stick with your natural hair color or dye it a natural-looking tone. You're a woman, not a teenage girl.
posted by MinusCelsius at 11:52 AM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

If my hair looked that good without help I would never color my gray!

I think your hair looks great as it is but a good stylist might be able to tweak it a bit to help you like it better.

And since you asked, you look very feminine and appropriately gendered. (Is that the right way to put it?).
posted by biscotti at 12:00 PM on August 9, 2014

From the pics, I wouldn't have known you were trans if you hadn't said so. Are you super tall or something? I just don't see it. I don't think you have to worry about being read as a gay guy at all. Maybe if you cut your hair really short.

I like your hair just the way it is, but one thing to consider if you color it is that graying hair is already pretty dry, and color is going to make it even drier and more brittle. If you color it I would get the best professional job you can afford. But I wouldn't base your decision on your desired gender presentation, get it colored because that's what you want to do.
posted by desjardins at 12:01 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Re: "gendered" I've not found a better word than that though it does sound weird to my ears, if anyone has any suggestions for a replacement word/phrase I'm into that.
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:03 PM on August 9, 2014

Oh yeah, you look awesome. I'm a cis-woman, and basically that hair is somewhere high up on my ideal-hotness scale.

I'm kind of a weirdo, though. AND, I'll say that after years of asymmetrical short haircuts I've lately been rocking a longer blonde style, and... It's like suddenly I fit into the "acceptable human female" category. It's a strange experience. It might be something to consider if you want to experiment in gender expression.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 12:04 PM on August 9, 2014

However, I will say this, echoing some people above - if you are single and you are trying to attract men, color will help with that. If you are trying to attract lesbians, I think you rock your current look. I speak from personal recent experience of saying "fuck it" and not coloring my gray - I get much more attention from women now and pretty much zero from men.
posted by desjardins at 12:05 PM on August 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

(but, my haircut is way more butch than yours)
posted by desjardins at 12:07 PM on August 9, 2014

I came in here prepared to see your hair and suggest you dye it but damn that is some gorgeous natural color you've got. Agreed that pink would be trying too hard, you look like a cool stylish woman now and I'd keep it as is. Fwiw my style is tomboy femme.
posted by ch1x0r at 12:07 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am into women, I think? But damn those lanky indie rocker boys in dream pop bands that are giving rise to new and exciting feelings as of late...
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:10 PM on August 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

Your haircut really works on you so I think it will look good with almost any colour. So yeah, it does look good now but why stick with that when you can try something different? Playing with different colours is fun, and worst case you can just dye back over it with some boring light brown while it grows out again. My natural hair colour also really suits me and I've had hairdressers and other people comment on how lucky I am and how I should grow it out more and blah blah blah, screw that. Just because it looks good one way doesn't mean you're somehow obligated to keep that, particularly when it looks just as good a different way too.

One thing to keep in mind, grey/white hair like that is notoriously difficult to dye, it doesn't take the colour well. So you'll probably want to bleach it a bit first to help the dye stick and temporary wash out dyes might not do much either. Going to a salon, at least the first time, is a reasonable option to get a good result. A good colourist should be able to help you do something cool without being costumey. The upside is, I find at least, the bleach/dye process makes the greys a bit softer so it all feels nicer afterwards.
posted by shelleycat at 12:10 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with everyone else who says that you look super rad with the gray hair; something to consider (that I've seen a good number of women, cis and trans, absolutely rock) is to get a streak or two of pink/blue/purple/whatever towards the front, and leave the rest natural. I think that your haircut and the style you're aiming for (and, in my opinion, already succeeding at) would fit in well with that.

I also agree with the previous posters that suggested funky earrings. You're already reading pretty damn "tomboy femme" to me, but funky earrings would definitely help tip things further in that direction.
posted by naturalog at 12:24 PM on August 9, 2014

I think your hair looks great, and your style reads to me as "tomboy femme woman" to me right now. But there's no reason not to get your hair colored if you want. Personally, I think you could rock a bright blue (just a smidge brighter than royal blue), if you're looking for color suggestions. If you feel like experimenting, you can also try dying it with Kool Aid (it'll last maybe two or three washes, and might not show up a ton in general, but it'll give you at least somewhat of a chance to play around).

The only thing I would caution is, if you want to use permanent (or semi-permanent) color, get it done professionally, at least for this first time (as opposed to for upkeep), because salt-and-pepper is really tough to get looking good with home dying. Home dying is tough for any kind of color you want that's significantly different than your current color, in general.

If you do the home dying route, you're probably are going to have to bleach your hair first, which is difficult on its own, and if your hair doesn't take dye well you might even run into trouble trying to get it bleached (fwiw, I can't bleach my own hair, because it's dark and doesn't take dye well).

If you end up wanting to do a home dye for a color that...well, even if it's not *your* natural color, it's somebody's, then I recommend Garnier Fructis, the dye kit in the lime green box. It won't fry your hair at all, the conditioner is great. The dye also seems to last a long time, too, or at least I never notice any fade (I dye my hair with the "soft black" color every month, but that's as close as I can get to my natural color -- I don't like showing any grey).
posted by rue72 at 12:26 PM on August 9, 2014

I love the gray, gray with deep colored (blue! yes!) streaks in front would look awesome, or if you want to dye it I think you would look good with an auburn color like this.

N'thing that you already read "woman" to me. Funky creative-type woman.
posted by celtalitha at 12:32 PM on August 9, 2014

If I saw you out, I would see you as a woman. I like the salt and pepper but you have a white/grey piece of long bang in front that would look great as a lavender streak. It would bring out your eyes.
posted by stray thoughts at 12:47 PM on August 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

Salt-and-pepper looks fab on you. You read female to me (genderqueer here). You could totally rock pink or blue in it. I think a few streaks + natural color tend to read more female than male. If you want to stay just salt-and-pepper and are worried about passing, try wearing more jewelry or girly accessories (pick one): dangly earrings, necklace, painted nails.

You could also totally rock the blond and pink or blue highlights. If that's something you've always wanted to do or are into the idea now, go for it.
posted by carrioncomfort at 12:47 PM on August 9, 2014

You definitely rock the style you have and the salt-n-pepper color is very flattering on you! The words that came to mind when I saw your photos were:

Edgy/Hip (You'd be right at home in a fancy coffee place on Cap Hill in Seattle)
Vaguely Tomboyish (Being gay myself, I might suspect you were a lesbian)

If you want to put some color into it, I would do streaks as others have suggested rather than a full dye. I'd also avoid super playful colors like pink since, like a full dye, it might come across as trying too hard. But I also understand that this may all also be symbolic in nature and culturally, in the US anyway, something every girl is expected to have done/do at some point in her life.

So, I say dye it if you want to have that experience to share/connect with other women - but otherwise, it seems unnecessary. You're a lovely woman.
posted by stubbehtail at 12:51 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think your current hair is gorgeous and you definitely read female to me. But as someone who really loves the S&P but also dyes her hair blue, I say go for some unnatural colored chunks or streaks just for fun! I also think it might be hard to get the right tone of blonde, and maintaining something that's supposed to be seamless and look "natural" is way harder than doing the "yeah this is dye! i meant to do this!" thing so if you're not interested in constant color correction then blonde might be something to reconsider. But pink/blue chunks on that swoopy bit in the front would be fun, grow out nicely, and probably contribute to people reading you as a queer woman (as opposed to a straight woman, not a man, which I don't think you need to worry about as much as you probably do, if you keep your eyebrow game strong). I suggest Pravana Vivids for unnatural colors. They're as close to permanent as you can get in that spectrum, and usually work well on S&P hair.

For passing it seems that earrings are a really solid signal, but they're not particularly tomboy? Consider some necklaces with thin, delicate chains and small pendants that hit right at your suprasternal notch, and maybe nail polish if you don't do that already. All of that, plus hair dye, is temporary and fun, and if you want to do it, go for it! If you want to be blonde don't let people stop you. Hair grows back. (And even if it doesn't, wigs exist!) Playing around with these things is definitely part of being a woman for a lot of people. Considering the absolute success your look is expressing right now, I'd say to trust yourself and your taste.
posted by Mizu at 12:56 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm a salt-and-pepper butch who occasionally (like, once a year) colors her hair for the hell of it, and I agree with others that A) the salt-and-pepper doesn't make you seem less feminine, going by the pix at least and B) play with color if you want because it's fun! Getting it done on the regular in a salon is pricey, but trying it out for the first time? Yes, worth it! You may know, but in case you don't, the salty hairs take color differently from the peppery hairs - mine are like ELECTRIC compared to their dark companions. I went dark blue once and it was kind of like a Superman-in-the-Sunday-paper look - it was only really visible in certain lights, except for the white hairs, which looked lit from within (it was cool). I've gone red a couple times and that's fun, too.

Go to a salon and talk with them, and yes nthing that you consider streaks/highlights. Your cut and style are terrific and I think would be awesome with streaks/highlights.
posted by rtha at 12:56 PM on August 9, 2014

Dye some blue streaks if you want to because the're always fun to have. I, (cis-female, 41) think your current color is amazing, works great with the style (those soft curls are great!) and that you already read female to me.
posted by kimberussell at 12:58 PM on August 9, 2014

I really like your hair as is, and it reads to me as on the femme side of a genderqueer spectrum. I think it might be more helpful to think about just looks you like and suit you, because if we're chasing idealized gender norms, all of us would have Ann Coulter hair, and I mean, apart from that just not being for everyone (and a lot else), some of us look pallid and drawn with blonde. And if we're talking about style, again it's personal preference. I agree with everyone that you look stunning and are rocking your style. (And at the same time wonder what you'd look like with hair like Audrey Tatou in Amelie, because that's a style I like and I think it might suit you, but mostly because it's a style I like.)

Obviously clothes are another way to encourage certain interpretations over others, and that's again so much dependent on taste and lifestyle. Femininity in clothes I think comes through via silhouettes emphasizing body contouring (eg tailored shifts or even spandex bodycon, for another option) or through soft textures. Femme tomboy filtered through that logic and my preferences might involve plain tees or blouses in silks with skinny pants or pencil skirts (I really love your top in the second pic fwiw).

But I think, in terms of building a personal style that resonates in the spaces culture leaves us, most women refer to 'style icons', consciously or not - often those icons resemble them at least a little. So as far as that goes, it might be helpful to draw inspiration from women you admire (who, like you, have amazing cheekbones).

I like the salt and pepper as is, fwiw.
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:06 PM on August 9, 2014

(note: I'm cis and straight, take comment with that in mind)

The color doesn't look masculine in the slightest. But I do think it might not be the greatest for your coloring. This may just be the photos, but you appear to have a warm skin tone, which tends to clash with gray. (I have warm coloring and if I wear certain shades of silver or blue I immediately look like I have the flu.) So my initial thought was that a very warm brown or even an auburn color might really stand out.
posted by dekathelon at 1:08 PM on August 9, 2014

As everyone else has covered, you don't need to color or otherwise compensate in any way: you look amazing.

Blonde with pink highlights seems to be a very popular choice in my neck of the woods. Have you considered just doing the pink and/or blue highlights on the salt-and-pepper hair, no blonde added? I think that would look amazing on you.
posted by RainyJay at 1:12 PM on August 9, 2014

The salt and pepper hair really suits you, and seems to go with the style you are rocking clothes wise too.

Maybe add a streak or 2 of a fun colour. As others have said you have short hair so easy to grow out a colour, or just experiment with a water rinse or 2 until you find one you like. I think a white blonde hair, like the singer Pink rocks could could look great on you. The best part about hair is it grows back so have fun and play with it until you find something you like.

If you are going to rock the grey maybe have a look at shampoos etc for grey hair, they have a bit of a colouring action to help stop the dirty yellow look some grey hair can get, though in the pics you've posted that doesn't seem to be a problem for you.
posted by wwax at 1:16 PM on August 9, 2014

Queer chick, mid-30s, I don't think your hair reads masculine at all, and I think it's pretty hot. I think people tend to read women as older when they have noticeable gray because so many women color their hair, but especially with a haircut like that, I think that offsets that message nicely. If you crave pink and blue streaks, you could probably do it just fine normally. But if you really want to be a blonde and you're okay with short hair, why not? It won't take that long to grow out if you don't like it. But I like it as it is. A lot.

This is something I'm biased about because it's what I do myself, but--I'm not saying your current glasses look awful at all, but I think you might find that something with a more angular and slimmer profile might be more flattering. I used to never like my glasses until I switched to rectangular frames. Your current ones kind of seem to be hiding half your face.
posted by Sequence at 1:26 PM on August 9, 2014

You are super adorable and totally tomboy!femme just the way you are. But you do you, and if you want blonde and blue and pink DO EET.
posted by woodvine at 1:30 PM on August 9, 2014

I've been planning on peircing my ears, and from what I'm gathering I think coloring some of the streaks may be a good option, and maybe even putting some auburn tone on the browns.

Re: glasses, yes, these will be changed out this month.

My clothing style is comprised of tailored women's button up shirts, tank tops, AA v-necks, skinny jeans and shorts. I wear a pair of fairly scruffy "affleck" doc martens most of the time. I have a studded bracelet I love, plus some necklaces that I like. I'm in the process of building out my wardrobe and accessories and figuring out how to roll with the gender expression that seems to work best for my body type. I'm making note of the suggestions in thread, thanks for that.

One thing I am trying be aware of is that there are the beauty icons we *wish* we could approximate and then there's the look and style we can *actually* pull off. I have found that as a newly coming out trans woman I get these urges like I should experiment with everything women's fashion and then I end up looking ridiculous not because I am trans, but because as a woman I just plain don't jive with certain styles. That's been an interesting process to go through to say the least....
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:41 PM on August 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

No comments on color vs not, but that is a super-cute haircut, and the gray and white is awesome.

The pix read 100% lady to me---no `guy mode'--although I'm not sure what a different angle would look like. Pierced ears are fun; some dangly earrings would look cute with the haircut.
posted by leahwrenn at 1:47 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm thinking it might be fun for you to experiment with color. It's only hair -- it will grow out, or you can recolor it, or chop it off and start over.

Changing your hair color will change how people respond to you, often in unexpected ways. I get a very different response (highly positive -- I'm seen as more approachable -- and I'm not talking about some silly standards of pretty or sexy or anything -- I'm just more me) when I am a light-copper, vs. when I was blonde, or when I was brunette. No one color is inherently "better" than another -- it's just that it turned out (to my surprise) that being a red-head works really well with my overall "thang". And not just any color of red -- this particular color.

I do really love your current color scheme, so if you decide to experiment with color, and decide it isn't your thing, you would have the confidence of knowing your as-is hair palette will serve you well and that you can opt back into it and rock it once again.

Have fun with it!
posted by nacho fries at 1:52 PM on August 9, 2014

Have you talked to a professional stylist/colourist? I would do that first. She or he will be able to help you pick the range of the most flattering cuts/colors for your skin tone and facial shape. For example, a particularly soft hairstyle might make you look more girly than any amount of pink streaks; it just depends on what you try. If you have trans friends who can recommend someone particularly, that's a good place to start.

But if you really want the blonde/pink, then get it. Why not? If you hate it, well, colors can be covered, and cuts grow out.

I don't know your work situation, but I assume non-natural-colors are good where you are or you wouldn't be considering them (that's the only thing that ever kept me from trying them).
posted by emjaybee at 1:53 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't go blonde, because it can be a finicky color. But maybe violet streaks would be fun?
posted by spunweb at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2014

Queer cis femme who dyes her hair here. You totally rock the salt and pepper and I love your haircut. Coloring your hair will likely make you look younger. Which may also be worth playing with, since there's some gender/age stuff that happens. Darker colors would look more dramatic, and lighter will look softer. I am a big believer in playing with hair color, and mine tends to change a fair bit from hair cut to hair cut. With short hair, you can certainly give something a try, and if you don't like it, it'll be gone pretty quickly.

So I think you look great and encourage you to play with it if you want to.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a good friend who is a hair stylist and she will do the color.

No way will I mess with dyeing my own hair.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:12 PM on August 9, 2014

One note on changing your haircolor that is probably a "duh" to you, but I didn't realize until I did mine: I ended up changing my makeup palette and brow color after I changed my haircolor to rebalance my overall look. Sometimes changing one part of the picture means re-thinking other parts. This isn't necessarily a negative -- just something that hadn't occurred to me.

It's something you can ask your stylist/colorist, if you go that route -- they can give you some input on all that.
posted by nacho fries at 2:16 PM on August 9, 2014

I think outside of Mefi-land there's some pretty hardcore pressure on women to dye their grey hair. My girlfriend has definitely gotten "so... what are we going to do about this grey streak???" when she gets her hair cut at mainstream salons, and even once a hairdresser who continued to push it after she said "nothing, thanks!" the first time. So that's something to be aware of and may be a part of the reason why people have been encouraging you to dye.

Personally, I think salt and pepper is totally hot on women in general, and you in particular are rockin' it and read 100% female. Colourful streaks in grey are cool too!
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:20 PM on August 9, 2014

Just another data point that I think the cut and color you have right now are very flattering and definitely read as "female" to me. I mean color it if you want, I agree that it will probably make you look younger if that's what you want, and funky colors are fun, but don't worry about the gender presentation part of it.
posted by radioamy at 2:50 PM on August 9, 2014

I think your current hair looks lovely and I don't think, with that cut/style, it "reinforces guy mode" or anything. I don't think blonde with pink or blue highlights would necessarily tilt the scale toward people reading you more correctly. Maybe it's because I live in the Bay Area (and near an art school), but I can see reading bleached blonde with funky color highlights (if I'm not sure how to read the person) as "artsy guy who's not afraid to look feminine or ambiguous" or "MAAB person playing with gender who's not necessarily female-ID'ed."
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:53 PM on August 9, 2014

Color is gorgeous. Holy smokes, I mean, look at the color range! If it was dull single-tone-blah, I would say, dye it. But nah. I would say the one thing that looks more "dude" to me is how far your part is to the side. It reads "queer undercut" instead of "srs bznz lady cut" – which, I think looks great, but maybe it doesn't read how you want?

If anything, talk to your stylist about making it a bit "warmer" – not too much strong coloring, but tone down the sharp blue of that grey.
posted by thirdletter at 3:24 PM on August 9, 2014

It's really fun to play with colour so go for it if it's want you to do. That said, you truly are rocking the salt and pepper with that hairstyle. To me it looks like edgy urban woman rocking the grey hair. I don't think blond with pink and blue would make you look more or less feminine. To be honest, given the wide range of acceptable hairstyles for people these days, consistently wearing pretty makeup signals gender more than dyeing one's hair does.
posted by stowaway at 3:39 PM on August 9, 2014

It pretty much looks the way I expect my hair to look in 5 years and that makes me really happy. I think your hair looks great.

But! I also think that playing with hair style, cut, and color is a really common female right of passage. Most cis gendered women have already gone through all that and have figured out their core look by early adulthood, and responses you're getting are through that lens. But you need to go through that fashion adolescence, to play with different looks to figure out ways of using the outer shell to show the world what you want them to know. You only figure that stuff out by doing it. In that context, I really think you should try some color.
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:43 PM on August 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

You have some of the best salt and pepper hair color I've ever seen!

I do think your hair reads as ladyhair, although you might want to experiment with different ways of pinning/styling your hair, or using scarves or headbands, since you have a cute style that could be fun to try different styles with.

You could try doing a semi-permanent purple or pink dye on your hair--I imagine that since you have so much naturally occurring different tones in your hair, that it will respond to dye differently and give you lots of different purple tones, which could be fun. Just remember, bright colors generally require lots of upkeep!
posted by inertia at 4:01 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you want to play with streaking non-conventional colors, hair chalk is quite popular right now. You apply it by running your hair across the pan of colored chalk and it washes out. I think your hair and cut are great and read perfectly for your femme tomboy aesthetic. I think platinum blonde would be fun if you want to experiment! I really like you with a smokey eye! Looks great on you.
posted by quince at 4:15 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think your hair looks great, too! But I think everyone should ferociously colour their hair at some point, so I vote: dye the whole thing light pink, with dark pink streaks in the front. I don't think that even counts as a whack dye job; I mean, if it's good enough for Helen Mirren, it's good enough for the rest of us.

And seriously, if you are a female-presenting person, pink hair is an equal opportunity employer and will work fine whether you are see men or seeing women, or both or whatever.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:46 PM on August 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

For real darlingbri, that's the shit I'm talkin' 'bout right there. Oh how you tempt me!!!
posted by Annika Cicada at 4:51 PM on August 9, 2014

You are already totally a lady-looking lady, as is the unanimous opinion above. Color one way or the other isn't going to push you into looking non CIS gendered or even genderqueer, to my (liberal urban frame of reference) eye. (In fact, there's a certain delicacy and femininity already in the transition of tones and the wave you've got going on). You've got the luxury of it being about the same boring issues it is for the rest of us gender-conforming-in-appearance ladies: are you going for sexy librarian (or sexy public intellectual), sexy fashionista, sexy punk (or sexy Helen Mirren), etc.

The blue might be tonally very interesting. That would be my vote, if you're not sticking with the natural tones.
posted by blue suede stockings at 5:46 PM on August 9, 2014

The secret for subtly jazzing up your already pretty salt & pepper locks is purple-tinted shampoo. Try that before permanent color and see what you think.
posted by Scram at 11:30 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Early 30s queer cis-female married to a dude here. All your pictures read "queer lady" to me, and make me hope my eventual grays do something like that. I mean, I'd always planned to dye it blue when my hair went gray someday, but your natural shade variation is so rocking on its own that if I had that happen I'd probably postpone those plans.
posted by deludingmyself at 11:38 PM on August 9, 2014

I think the gray looks awesome (and reads female in your picture) but I think another color would look great too. If you dye it and don't like it, it will grow out eventually! And if you are thinking of using "fashion" colors like pink, it will probably fade quickly (whether you want it to or not).
posted by freezer cake at 9:19 PM on August 11, 2014

Your hair is fantastic, both cut and color, and definitely reads 100% woman to me, BUT: how dang cute would you be with blonde and pink and blue hair! Do it! And then show us pictures! ;] It's short enough to be temporary if you don't like it.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:41 AM on August 12, 2014

Here's the first pass, I'll play with temporary colors for a while:
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:58 AM on August 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

Here at the rtha/gingerbeer household we agree: total babe! Looks great.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:43 AM on August 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

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