- EXCLUSIVE: Trans man gets facial hair transplant to look like Man Utd legend
- Lee Brown, 40, chose David Beckham stuble after browsing beard index
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT showing pre and post-op photos of transplant
Lee Brown, 40, invested in a gruelling 12-hour surgery to implant hair follicles in his face that would allow him to grow out his stubble to look just like the Manchester United legend.
Mr Brown, who had been taking testosterone for 18 months, opted for the follicle transplant after the medication failed to boost his natural facial hair growth and he grew tired of being addressed as a woman.
And surgeons even took him ‘beard shopping’, giving him a catalogue of celebrity whiskers to rifle through so he could find the perfect look.
He settled on Golden Balls’ iconic stubble because of the footballer’s trendy fashion and grooming credentials.
And two years on from the surgery, Lee says he feels complete – and has never been misgendered since.
Lee, from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, said: ‘When I went to the clinic they asked me what I was thinking of.
‘I thought of David Beckham as he’s always had facial hair, has always been trendy and everyone loves his facial hair.
‘It was something that I wanted to do because I wasn’t growing my own facial hair through my hormones, it was taking too long.
‘Misgendering was still happening and I was really confident that if I had some facial hair that wouldn’t happen.
‘I’ve been through a double mastectomy and a full hysterectomy, so the facial hair was the missing piece of the puzzle that was letting me down a bit.
‘Every day I look in the mirror and I’m so happy I have this. Funnily enough I never get misgendered anymore.’
Lee says that he knew from the age of four he knew that ‘nothing felt right’ about his body – but it was only decades later that he confided in his 58-year-old wife Dawn that he wanted to change gender.
He added: ‘I always knew I was in the wrong body. My earliest memory of being aware of nothing feeling right was when I was about four but I didn’t know what it was.
‘Growing up in the 80s there wasn’t a lot of stuff about being trans like there is today.
‘As I got older I became more aware of who I really was but I didn’t want to tell people because I was worried about how my friends and family would take it.
‘I kept it to myself and it was getting to the point it was causing me severe depression.’
A civil service role in 2019 became a wake-up call after he was repeatedly referred to as Miss, despite identifying as male, and after confiding in his boss he began his transition in January 2020.
Lee said: ‘I had no idea people would call me “Miss”. It was driving me insane being called “Miss” hundreds of times a day.
‘I was really starting to go downhill with it mentally. I went to occupational health through work and they sent me to a work councillor who was understanding.
‘I have a very loving and laidback family, 99 percent of me was like, “they’ll be fine with it”, but it was the 1 per cent that I didn’t want to risk.
‘My parents were sad that I felt I couldn’t tell them because we’re so close.
‘We had a chat and they said “we’ll help and support you”. They helped me pay for all my surgeries.’
Lee began hormone therapy – receiving testosterone injections to lose fat, gain muscle, to deepen his voice and, so he was told, grow a beard.
But the facial topiary never appeared – a misstep Lee said he was ‘gutted’ about.
After learning about beard transplants, the frustrated civil servant researched beard transplants online and got in touch with Surgery Group.
He said of his journey to grow a beard: ‘Everything happened apart from facial hair, I was really gutted because as a trans guy that’s the number one thing you want.
‘You want to look male, feel male and pass as a male. Maybe I was a little bit impatient, I gave it a year and nothing happened.
‘I thought, ‘am I going to be one of those people where it doesn’t happen or is it going to take five years or ten years?’.
‘I went on Google. I knew there were hair transplants but I didn’t know there were beard transplants and I just stumbled across them,
‘I started to get a little bit obsessed with it and researching it.
‘I thought to myself: “I want to do this, it’ll make me feel complete and I won’t be misgendered”. If someone didn’t know I wasn’t born male I don’t think they would know.’
During the November 2021 surgery, the outline of his new ‘life-changing’ beard was drawn and individual follicles were taken from the back of his head and inserted into his face.
Surgeons made almost 3,000 grafts, with a small top-up procedure on his chin last year.
For the first few weeks he had to sleep sitting up, waking himself up every hour to spray a saline solution on his face to keep the grafts moist so they would be accepted by his body.
At first, the surgery made him look and feel ‘like a truck had run over my face’. But after almost two years of letting his beard settle, with his breasts and uterus removed, Lee feels like a new man.
His own natural facial hair has also – finally – started to come through, giving him hopes of a growing luxuriously thick beard.
He summed up: ‘During that time I’ve started growing my own facial hair so maybe it’ll mingle in with my beard transplant and thicken it up a bit.
‘When I look in the mirror I now feel complete, the inside of me matches the outside.’