New Country, New Style, New Hair Brings Out the Swagger in Gender Nonconforming Woman.

by Vi Andrews

After that first experience, I started to feel good about the way I was dressing.

My name is Vi Andrews and I’m from Miami, Florida.

I’m living at my parents’ house at this time. It was at the midway point of COVID. It’s been about a year and a half, and I’ve been living with them for a year and a half. I’d been out to them for about three or so years up to this point as far as my sexuality, but moving back in with them, I kind of stopped or didn’t present as masculine or anything.

A few years before that, I had started wearing a chest binder just to see how that would look. And then when I moved back, I stopped wearing that because I just thought people would have questions. So even when I went out, I would bind, but then before I came back home or before I went around family, I would quickly take it off.

I knew that something had to change and so the only thing that I could think of was Let me move to a different country and just change my life completely. And so, I sat them down on the couch and I was like, “Yeah, I got this job. Everything’s going well.”

And they were like, “Okay, so what’s next?” And I was like – basically they were like, “Are you moving out?”

I was like, “I’m going to move to another country. I’m going to move to Mexico.”

And at first they were both like, “Are you serious?”

And I was like, “Yeah, I think I’m going to go… I don’t know what’s out there, but I feel like I need to go and just see what’s there.”

I remember the first day that actually, when I got to Mexico, the first day I went out into the city, into the Centro, I had this outfit that I wanted to put on. I was like, Okay, I’m going to go to the Centro. That’s one of the busiest parts of the city. Everybody’s going to see me. It’s a beautiful sunny day. So I wore these black slacks, a white button up, and then this black jacket and this black hat. And I was like, Oh, I feel so good. I was like, I feel fine. And so even in the nervousness, I saw myself and I was like, I’m out here in this beautiful city, this big city and just dressing how I want to feel and I feel good about it.

After that first experience, I started to feel good about the way I was dressing. I started to not think so much about the outfits that I was wearing and going out, but there was definitely one thing that was missing and it was my hair. I had asked around to some people that I trusted. I asked them, “Is there a barber in the city that you trust with your hair?” Because at this point I was like, I need a haircut ASAP. So they told me there’s one barber in the city.

Before I went, I was still very skeptical. I was like, “I know that y’all trust him, but my hair is very serious to me. My curls are very serious. So I need to go in prepared.” So I did, like, I googled a lot. I wrote down what do you say to the barber? I had so many pictures – literally had like a photo album just of I think 20 or 30 pictures of different angles of hair so I can make sure that when I got in that chair, that barber knew exactly what I was talking about.

And so I’m walking up to the barber shop. He welcomes me. He’s like, “Hey, what’s up? I’m Javi. Do you want a beer?” And I was like, Nobody’s ever asked me for a beer. So immediately I felt like, okay, I like this place.

And immediately he asked me, “Okay, what do you want?”

And I’m like, “I’m already ready.” I have the photos up. I’m like, “I want this, this way,” swiping through the photos. And at first I’m like, “I’m sorry I’m showing this many photos. You can tell me to stop or whatever.”

He’s like, “No, let me know exactly what you want.”

Around like 30 or so minutes later, the cut was done. He turned my chair around. And the moment he turned my chair around and I saw the cut and it was the exact cut that I wanted, and it was even better than what I thought I would want, I was just like a breath of fresh air. And I was like, “Wow, you listened to me. I feel so good.” He’s like, “Yeah, that’s what you wanted. So that’s what I gave you.” It just felt so good to be affirm and see that. And from that time, I’ve just been going to him ever since. And since then, it’s just been a really great relationship. Not only with this barber, but just like with myself and being able to say this is what I want.

I knew that I felt good about myself. I knew that I looked good, but being in the city, it was also affirming to hear these interactions that I was having with people because I was presenting at my most masculine self at this point. And being called like masculine words, like caballero. At first I was like, Oh, I’m not a caballero. But then I was like, I actually really like caballero.

A few months later, I had to go back home for work. And I was going to be seeing my family during this time as well. And at this point I had already had the confidence of being presenting… presenting masculine in the city and being accepted and welcomed. And so I didn’t necessarily want to go back in the closet and, like, have to put away the clothes and put away the haircut and all of that stuff and put away that confidence I had gained. So on the plane ride, I was just writing down, journaling all my feelings and also gaining the confidence to say, like, “This is who I am.”

When I  flew back to the city, I think I purposefully wore, like, a really good outfit that I felt good about.  And then I had, like, a white button up and jeans and boots and it felt really good. I think I walked by a mirror in the airport and I was like, No, that’s me. I feel good. I look good. That’s who I am. Let me go introduce myself to my family again.

With my grandma, it’s always been like no… “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation. I’m not going to ask any questions and you don’t have to tell me anything. But I went up to her house to surprise her when I visited. I was visibly, like, masculine, visibly queer. And none of that even mattered to her.

She was just like, “Wow, I’m so excited to see you.”

And I was like, “I’m so excited to see you.” And we had the conversation. We talked for a while.

And then she was just like, “You look really good.”

And I was like, “Wow, thank you so much.”

And I think that’s really what I wanted was not only to have that inner confidence in myself, but for my family to welcome me and accept me and just say, like, “You look good. I see the changes and they look good on you.”

And she was like, “You look good and you look happy.”

When I came back and when I landed at the airport, I just felt so much more excited to be here and excited to embrace whatever the journey was, knowing that I was presenting how I wanted to present. I was happy. I was confident. And that was exactly what I needed. And it was like at that point I wasn’t keeping myself or any parts of myself from myself or from my family or from any of any new people that I would meet.

So now in my journey here in Mexico, it’s about fully embracing the journey, fully following whatever my wants and my needs are. and I feel so confident and I feel so good internally and externally, that I know if I continue to follow that discovery, it’s only going to lead me to an even more fully realized person, fully realized self. And I can’t wait to meet the next part of that person, who that is.

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