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Creative Non-Fiction: 'Shorn'

Written by Finn Brown

She/ they kneels in front of the mirror, bare knees on rough wood. C starts with scissors. They chop chunks. Hair curls from her/ their shoulders onto the floorboards. Bright blonde hair is cut at the roots which are darker, else. 

          What was beneath is revealed. 

          The clippers pulse in C’s hands. The clippers belong to her/ their Dad, who is downstairs somewhere, unaware of what is happening to his child.

          The choppy leftovers are buzzed away. 

          Where there was hair there is space. Air floats around her/ their ears. 

          She/ they runs her/ their palms over the prickling surface that is now her/ their head. She/ they looks at the shape of her/ their skull and becomes familiar with what has always been there. 




When dresses became difficult to wear - that is, I wanted to scrape them off me, that is, I wanted to build a stake to burn them on - I decided to cut my hair. 

          I thought it would help. I thought it would help with these feelings that I had every time I wore a dress or a skirt. I only wanted to look visibly queer, I thought, and short hair, I knew, would do that for me. It would be enough.

          Shorn, I would be comfortable in dresses again. I would be recognised by my community immediately. I would not need to rely on clues that might not be picked up: the sound of keys jangling against carabiners and chains clinking around necks, the heavy thump of Dr Martens making their way along the pavement or the creak of second-hand leather. 

          No. In one glance queers on the street would know me, small pricks of hair catching the light, declaring me one of theirs. They would nod in my direction, and I would nod in theirs. Community would be built in a moment, a movement. We would see each other seeing each other and everyone would feel seen, everyone would feel better.

          Newly hairless, I tried on dresses and skirts, posing in front of the full length mirror. But I did not feel better. I didn’t want to wear all that swooping, clinging fabric that hung itself around my hips, moved in and out around my figure. I didn’t want the shapes that it made me, the way I walked in it, the person I was seen as within it.

          I reverted backwards, going through all the clothing stages that I had only experienced as a femme person. My wardrobe overflowed with bright colours tucked into dungarees. Toddler chic. Clothes as play.

          Sometimes I dressed like a teenage boy because I was a teenage boi. I lived in baggy T-shirts designed by mates and tracksuits that the baggy T-shirts didn’t reveal the waists of. 

When I wanted more definition I trawled charity shops and second hand clothing websites and bought shirts and trousers and jumpers. 

          I explored masculinity aesthetically until I found a way of dressing that felt like mine, that combined the baggy with the sheer, the denim with the leather. I pulled from there and there until my clothes matched myself.

          Hairless, I folded my dresses and skirts into squares and carried them to a charity shop in a bag-for-life. Hairless, I realised I never wanted to wear a dress or a skirt again.




I take a photo of myself a few days after C cuts my hair off for the first time. I am sitting on my bed in my parent’s house, my baldness leaning against the wooden bedframe. I am wearing a men’s leopard print jumper with the sleeves rolled up.

          There is a framed painting hanging on the wall behind me, a nude of a woman drawn in pastels and watercolour. Her body curves from one side of the frame to the other, raising in the middle, arms swooping down at the edge of the image. Beneath her there is green and behind her there is terracotta so I think, though it is not distinct, that she is likely outside. Maybe there is wind in the hair that is held down by her left arm. Maybe she will leave this place with mites of terracotta dust stuck to her.

          We are in contrast to each other, this long-haired sprawling woman and my lock-less self. My hair is cut tight around my ears. Hair that is so short it is closer to a dot than a line. This texture makes its way from nape to temple. On the crown of the head my hair grows cautiously. It is feather soft, it is the hair of a baby. 

          Has there been a rebirth? It thinks so.

About the Author

Finn Brown (they/ them) is a queer writer and maker, whose short stories, poetry and non-fiction have been published in Queer Life, Queer Love 2 (Muswell Press), The Bombay Review, The Bittersweet Review, Penumbra Literary, Tension Literary, Unbound Zine, Snowflake Magazine, All Existing and Texlandia Magazine. They have performed spoken word at Hay Festival, Last Word Festival and Brainchild Festival as part of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective. They are an editor at t’ART.

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