Man in a Dress

Sometimes I feel like a man in a dress.


And it’s almost always because that’s how I feel like I look.


It takes an insane amount of courage (among other things) to go out into the real world en femme.  To leave your home in full makeup and a cute dress takes an amount of bravery that is incomparable.  If you’ve ever been out in the real world, then congratulations.  I know how hard it was.  If you aren’t there yet, then don’t be hard on yourself.  It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.  


What I find difficult is leaving the house when I am still partially in male mode.  At least when it comes to my face.  If I am doing a photo shoot I will always book a makeup appointment for the day.  On days like this I spend the morning getting my corset tightly cinched, my forms and pads in place, and getting dressed.  I then leave the house and make my way to my appointment.  I try to plan my morning so I don’t have to run any errands before my appointment, such as getting gas because I hate, hate, hate doing anything before my makeup is done.  But sometimes it’s unavoidable.  This past weekend I was on my way to my appointment when I had to use the ladies room.  I didn’t think I could wait until I got to my appointment so I decided to run into a Starbucks.

  
I got there, parked, and sat in my car for a few minutes working up the courage to go in.  At the time I thought looked cute (well, my outfit was cute) but my face was MALE.  Like, full on MALE.  I look SO MALE before I have my makeup done.  Once my makeup is done and my face is contoured, my foundation is set, and my eyes have more drama than a soap opera I feel and look more femme.  But before that my reflection shows a middle age man wearing a long black wig.  It’s devastating, it’s heartbreaking, it’s… it’s a lot of things.


Please bear in mind that I don’t feel that way about my reflection when I am in boy mode.  I don’t hate how I look in boy mode, not at all.  But I don’t want to look like a boy when I am en femme.
It takes a lot of courage for me to go anywhere public when I am en femme before a makeup appointment.  But I had to.  I put on a mask to hide half of my face and strutted into Starbucks.  The strut was a lie, I didn’t feel like strutting but sometimes you have to fake confidence.  I popped into the restroom, cringed at my reflection, and bought a bottled water on my way out.  


And that was that.


I went to my appointment, got my face done and was feeling about 500% cuter.  Now that my makeup was done I could properly assess how I looked.  And I felt like a man in a dress.  Or more accurately, a man in a skirt.  I rarely wear skirts.  When I am en femme I am almost always rocking (or trying to rock) a cute (or sexy) dress.  I feel confident, I feel beautiful in a dress.  But a blouse/skirt combination?  I rarely feel cute.  I felt the top I was wearing made me look too mannish.  It wasn’t really cut in a flattering, feminine way despite the small ruffles adorning it.  I felt like I was wearing a simple tank top, which is essentially what it was.  In my head the outfit looked cute but on me?  Ehhhh.  Despite my stilettos, the skirt, fake eyelashes, my amazingly realistic breast forms, and my bright red lipstick, I felt like a man in a skirt.  


Isn’t that funny (and heartbreaking)?  My makeup, my heels, my skirt… almost none of that mattered compared to how I FELT.  Shannonlee said I looked cute.  I posted the outfit on Twitter to get some feedback and I had some nice comments.  But none of that mattered.  I didn’t feel cute and nothing would change that.  


This feeling lingered with me for the entire day.  No matter what I wore, no matter how cute or sexy or feminine my outfits were I couldn’t shake the feeling.  People can be cruel to our community, but we can be cruel to ourselves. 

Dysphoria is a real thing and it can hit us from out of nowhere.  Most of the time I like how I look or at least my confidence is high enough to overpower any negative thought or comment but no one is immune to the seemingly out of the blue voice of not being cute enough.


So the question is what do we do when this happens?  You kind of have to power through it.  Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.  Just understand that these negative thoughts will happen and will always catch you off guard.  Sometimes I can bounce back from these thoughts and feeling.  When I changed from the aforementioned outfit into a super femme dress, well, I felt cuter, although the dysphoria was still lingering.  Sometimes these thoughts can’t be shaken off when we are en femme.  And that, well, that sucks.  You look forward to getting dolled up and spending the day en femme and WHAM!  Dysphoria.  It’s like looking forward to a road trip and getting four flat tires.  Or the heel of a stiletto snapping off in midstride. 

 
It’s hard not to, but you really can’t let it dull your sparkle.  If you can’t bounce back from this while you are en femme, it’s okay.  Dysphoria doesn’t really MEAN anything.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful or your outfit isn’t cute.  It’s just a small, cruel voice or a negative emotion that we are paying attention to when we shouldn’t.  We can choose what or who we listen to, but I do know (I promise) that this is easier said than done.  If these thoughts, this voice lingers for the day until you go back to male mode, don’t let it discourage you from your next time out en femme.  More than likely you will feel cuter the next time.  You can almost always chalk up dysphoria to just having an off day.  I mean, we have bad days at work but we still show up the next day, right?  


But I do get this is all easier in thought than it is in practice.  I felt not-cute for most of the day, and that emotion stuck with me even after I went back into boy mode.  Shannonlee sent over some test shots later that evening and the photos looked a zillion times better than dysphoria said they were.  My thoughts weren’t really based on anything tangible or anything real.  I was having an off morning, not every outfit looks cute on everyone.  


I feel better about the day now than I ever did during the day itself.  My confidence took a severe and lengthy beating that day.  I was feeling frustrated by, well, everything that day until I realized (much later) that although the outfit probably wasn’t right for me, most of my negativity was all coming from dysphoria.    


And like having bad day at work, we wake up the next morning and we tell ourselves that today will be better.  And it almost always is.   

Love, Hannah

Dream a Little Dream of She

I daydream all the time about Hannah.  I think about clothes, I think about things I want to do en femme.  Sometimes when I am trapped in male mode I let my imagination take over and live vicariously through memories and fantasies (non-sexual, I can assure you) to break up the boredom of my boy life.


Having a gender identity that the rest of the world doesn’t see can cause us to think things to ourselves as opposed to accidentally revealing her to someone.  For example, if someone is talking about how heels hurt after a while, I can’t let them know I can relate with them.  If a girl I know is wearing a cute outfit, I can’t ask her where she bought it.  Because of this, is it any wonder our inner thoughts and subconscious focus on our femme lives?

Dreams are not much different.  We dream about our lives, whether it is the life we show most of the world, or the life we live in secret.  Our dreams are a reflection of what we think about so it’s little wonder we dream about our femme selves.  Sometimes these dreams can be anxiety-inducing, like dreaming we are caught by someone we don’t want to be out to.  Sometimes these dreams are wonderful where we dress and we look beautiful.  Other times these dreams can be pretty, well, boring.  Last night I had a dream where I was shopping and trying on clothes.


This website is where I can write down all the things I think about and the things I feel.  I hope it’s a place where girls like me can visit and relate to what I am thinking and feeling.  Reading your comments is one of the highlights of my day and it’s lovely to see what you want to say.  For some of us there are so few outlets we can turn to when it comes to discussing our femme selves so I hope that the comments are a place where a girl turns towards when it comes to getting her thoughts and feelings out into the world.  Not all of us are able to share our wishes and fears and hopes with others but I hope you feel safe and welcome here.


That being said, I know some of us dream about our femme selves.  I know some of us want to share these dreams with others but there isn’t always someone we can turn to.  I want you to know you can share your dreams (the dreams you have when you’re asleep as well as your daydreams) in the comments here.  I would love to read them and I know others would too.


Love, Hannah

New En Femme Blog!

My new blog for En Femme is up!

The latest from blogger, trans-activist and fashionista, Hannah McKnight is now available in our Learning Center! Hannah’s blog discusses more in-depth her life as a self-described T-girl. 

In her newest article, Hannah talks about finding the support we need, especially after coming out to someone in our lives doesn’t go as hoped.  Read it now>>

Love, Hannah

Another Review Preview!

This is the second outfit I wore for a review I am doing for The Breast Form Store. After my first lingerie shoot I wasn’t sure I would do another, but I thought this cute set would be perfect for the review. My first lingerie shoot was filled with mixed emotions but I was happy to realize that this time all those nervous butterflies and negative thoughts were gone.

I hope you like these pictures!

Love, Hannah

Mom Hugs

Pride Festivals are wonderful things, especially when you want to see just how much support, how many allies we have.  Of course, it’s not possible to know for sure who is and who isn’t a member of the LGBTQ+ community (at Pride or anywhere) but sometimes an ally is easy to spot.  The moms who come to Pride with t-shirts that say “Free Mom Hugs”?  Probably an ally (but again, impossible to know for certain that mom isn’t LGBTQ+).  Same with those wearing “Free Dad/Free Sister Hugs” shirts, too.  


I am…well, fascinated (jealous?) of moms like that.  I think almost all of us have complicated relationships with our parents, but perhaps I am just projecting.  I wasn’t the favorite child growing up and that dynamic has more or less lived on decades later.  I think things are…thawing between my mom and I and for the most part we have a good, healthy relationship, as long as, you know, THIS side of me isn’t brought up.  I’ve come out to her, both on purpose and, well, by accident and despite my efforts it’s been made pretty clear Hannah isn’t really someone my mom wants to know.


And that’s… okay.  I have made peace with it.  Not everyone is going to love you (or your femme self).  I wish things were different but again, I’ve made peace with it, although I have to admit I’ve had a couple “Mom Hugs” at Pride.


But I digress.


Like most things I think about, this little post is about clothes.  But this time it’s not about bodycon dresses or sky-high stilettos, it’s about a simple shirt.  A shirt that reads “I Love My Trans Kid”.  It’s not an uncommon shirt to see at Pride and I saw many moms (and dads) wearing it at last week’s Pride Festival.  Usually the parent was with a kid who was, well, a kid.  Think teenager or younger.  The age isn’t a surprise.  I’ve known and accepted this side of me at a young age.  I absolutely knew I was transgender (although I didn’t know the word) by the time I was in second grade.  Probably even earlier.  It’s like knowing you’re right-handed.  You just know.  You just… are.


The world is a different place than it was when I was discovering who I am all those years ago.  We didn’t have words in the common vernacular like “non-binary” or “gender fluid”.  We had “transvestite” and “crossdresser”.  Words that are a little outdated or not quite expansive enough (at least for me).  We also had “sissy”.  God, if I were to have come out when I was eight I would have been called a sissy or worse.  And I probably would have been called that by my dad.


Damn, a lot of baggage here, lol.


Being who we are isn’t easy.  I mean, it kind of is, it should be easier, but the world (for the most part) doesn’t make it very easy, does it?  It’s disheartening sometimes to be comfortable and to embrace who we are when we see laws being passed against the LGBTQ+ community or hear a co-worker say something nasty about transpeople.  But one thing I can’t experience is what it must be like to be a parent of a kid who is non-binary or gender non-conforming.  I mean, in principal it might be easy if you just let your kid dress how they feel and let them wear what they want.  Of course that’s probably easier said that done.  Letting your son wear a dress is one thing, dealing with the toxicity from the rest of the family or the rest of the world is another.  


Parents have to be advocates for their kids, no matter what they need.  It might be for medical reasons, or getting your child a tutor, or being their biggest defender and ally for their trans kid.  I don’t know if a parent can really prepare to, well, be a parent.  I suppose you could read every parenting book in the world but when it comes to the real thing, well, it’s the difference between reading a book on how to drive compared to actually being behind the wheel.  A parent should accept their kid and their identity.  A parent probably can’t prepare for that conversation aside from resolving to accept and love their child if they do come out.  You can’t love your kid conditionally, you can’t decide to love your kid on the condition that they are straight and/or cis.  


And at Pride you see that unconditional love.  It’s written on their face, it’s written on their clothes.  “I Love My Trans Kid”.  It doesn’t get more supportive than that.  


Don’t get me wrong, my mom is a wonderful, kind, supportive person.  But she grew up in a different era.  Her kids grew up in a different era.  I like to think that if I came out to her when I was younger in today’s world that she’d be wearing a shirt like that, too.  I am also positive if any of her grandchildren came out she’d be the supportive grandma.  


I don’t know if this website is read by any parents of trans kids but I want to thank you for being your child’s cheerleader, advocate, ally, and voice.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have come out to my own mother (at any age) and to have the support and love that I saw at Pride.  I don’t think my (ugh) journey would have led me to a different place than I am today if I had come to my mom when I was in my teens.  I love both of my gender identities today, and when I was growing up I didn’t hate or felt uncomfortable being a boy.  I just wanted to be a girl sometimes.  I didn’t grow out of who I was.  I couldn’t.  I don’t want to.


There’s no replacing a mom, no matter what you’re going through.  I mean, who loves you more than your mom?  No one.  No one is “supposed to”.  And yes, I know that not all of us have the support and love we need from our parents, regardless of one’s gender identity.  I know I have my mom’s love and support and friendship.  I don’t have any grudge against my mom because of her… uncomfortableness with Hannah.  I know that coming out changes a relationship, it impacts the dynamic.  You may be a fierce advocate of the LGBTQ+ community but, let’s face it, it’s a LITTLE different when your own child comes out.  It’s not easy to accept sometimes, it’s not an easy conversation to have.  Sometimes you just need to pretend you never came out.  I mean, that’s kind of what my mom and I do.  Again, don’t misunderstand me, I love my mom and I know as her son I have her love and support.  


And that’s enough.  It has to be.  


Love, Hannah

Don’t be Afraid of Yourself

Life is a journey.  I mean, it’s supposed to be, isn’t it?  A constant, forward momentum exploration of life and pursuing your heart’s desire.  Forever in search of what makes you happy, content, and satisfied.  It’s not any surprise that anything we do, anyone we are, can also be described as a journey.  We are always learning and intending on advancing in our current careers, whether it is rank or just experience and knowledge about what you do.  If you’ve been doing something, anything for any length of time you can look back to see how far you’ve come.  Of course you can also look ahead towards what you want to attempt next.  We look at achievements and future goals as milestones. 

There’s almost always a next step.


It’s not a surprise that our gender identity is also described this way.  As much as I cringe at that description, it’s also the most appropriate.  Every mile I strut in stilettos is because I took those first wobbly steps in kitten heels all those years ago.  Having a steady hand for liquid eyeliner is a result of practice, practice, practice.  Our attitudes, our perspectives, our desires are all rooted in those first moments when we were aware there was something more to us.  Something different than what we were told we should wear and who we were supposed to be.  


Where am I on this journey?  I think for many of us the journey can take one through transitioning, living full time, or hormones.  Those are all absolutely milestones, significant moments in one’s life.  For a lot of us (myself included) those moments, those decisions are not on my path ahead.  I don’t feel like I am in a rut or in a standstill or anything like that.  I feel I am still constantly moving forward simply by where I am mentally and emotionally.  Becoming more and more comfortable and secure in one’s identity are also milestones and accomplishments in one’s life.  I used to be hyper-aware that I was transgender whenever I did anything.  I’d walk into a store or down the street and would constantly be paranoid, or even convinced that everyone I met was thinking, knowing, and caring that I was transgender.  I’d walk into a coffee shop and be worried that I would be treated differently because I was transgender.  That everyone would be staring at me.  That someone might have a problem with me.  These days I forget who I am when I do things.  I simply do them when I am en femme.  I forget that the world (well, some of the world) sees me as a t-girl and might act or react based on my gender identity and presentation.  These days I forget that I am trans when I am out.  I am simply me.  And I absolutely believe that is, well, progress I suppose, but it’s also a milestone.  Long ago I stopped caring what people thought of me, and these days I have stopped wondering what people are thinking when they see me.  


I am often anxious and restless in my life, but not as much as I was ten years ago.  Life was meant to be conquered and I wanted to be rich.  I wanted to do what I wanted whenever I wanted.  I didn’t want to be tied to a job.  But at one point I realized I don’t *really* want that.  Right now I am drinking coffee, wearing leggings in a cozy chair.  All the money in the world wouldn’t change this little moment.  And besides, I like my job and I find it rewarding and fulfilling.  I would get fidgety if I didn’t feel like I was working towards… something.  But these days I want to feel content.  That’s not to say I have stopped moving forward with my life, my career, my gender identity.  It’s more about feeling grateful for the moment and what I have.


And I have a wonderful life.  I have a wonderful gender identity.  I couldn’t ask for more.  Life does a good job (if you are paying attention) when it comes to showing how fortunate you are to have the life you have.  I am happy with where I am with who I am.  I mean, sure I would like to do more modeling and raise my profile a little bit more, but that’s different than when it comes to common next steps when it comes to gender identity.  I don’t blame anyone for thinking that I might want to be more out based on what I write about or about who I am.  I mean, yes, I totes love being en femme and living Hannah’s life.  It’s natural to think I would want this more often, but if this is all I have, then I have more than I ever thought I would.


I know a lot of t-girls and they are all on their own journeys.  Some are more or less where I am today, some are further down the road, some are just getting started.  Sometimes I am a little envious of the girls who have met milestones that I wish to meet myself.  These milestones have more to do with being out to their friends, being able to have coffee with their sisters en femme, as opposed to anything, ah, permanent, such as transitioning.  I talk to my t-girl friends about their journeys and it gives me a moment to ask myself if I want to be in their heels.  Is that a milestone that is right for me?  Do I want to be where they are?  

And the answer is usually no.  If we look at a traditional journey for a transperson, I am a few struts away from hormones.  But my journey is not taking me there.  That’s not for me.  I’ve always known that living full time or transitioning is simply not for me.  My heart has never been pulled in that direction.  When chatting with my friends and listening to their experiences with estrogen or therapy I am able to reflect on whether or not that is something that I want, something that is right for me.  And it’s not.  I am bi-gender and I am happy with both of my gender identities, with both of my lives.  Were I to transition I would miss my boy life  I don’t think living full time would make me happier, more content, or more at peace.  Simply put, I like having options when it comes to gender presentation.


I got to thinking about all of this over the last few weeks after meeting up with a few of my t-girl friends.  It had been a while since I had seen several of them due to the pandemic so there was a lot to catch up on.  The pandemic changed a lot of us in different ways.  Some changes were small, some were OMG monumental.  Some of my friends have started to transition and much of the conversation that evening was about estrogen and electrolysis.  I mean, I would love to have my body hair removed but listening to my friends really emphasized that the paths they are taking are not paths that are right for me.  I like where I am, and I like the direction my life/lives is going.  
The point in all of this is that being transgender does not mean transitioning.  I know the T Word is a little intimidating for ourselves (and for others) but identifying as transgender does not require you to do anything.  You can be like me and identify as trans.  You don’t HAVE to do anything such as hormones or changing your gender on your birth certificate to be trans.  Those are not steps that I’ll be taking.  I resisted the T Word for a while.  I didn’t think I was, well, trans enough to identify that way.  But I got to a point where who I was was bigger and more complicated than the word ‘crossdresser’.  Today the terms bi-gender and non-binary and gender fluid are more… nuanced and specific and descriptive of who I am.  But those words, along with many others, all fall under the transgender umbrella (if you will).  


Be who you are.  Be who you want to be.  Don’t be afraid of the T Word.  Don’t be afraid of yourself.


Love, Hannah  

Related reading

The T Word

Wandering and Wondering

This past weekend was the Pride Festival for Minneapolis.  Since the MN T-Girls didn’t have a booth this year I was able to spend a lot more time wandering around the park.  As I wandered, I let my mind do the same thing.


The world is a harsh place.  People can be cruel to one another, there are laws in place that hurt our community, and more being written each day.  Friendships and families can be forever shattered when we come out.  We walk a tightrope on eggshells as we navigate this side of ourselves, regardless of where you are on the transgender spectrum.  You might be getting weekly estrogen shots, you might be a boy who wants to do drag.  You might be somewhere between.  We just want to live our lives but we are held back by the (justified) fear of living our truths, of being ourselves, of being who we want to be.  Of being who we ARE.


When we come out we have to face reality.  I think about coming out to more people in my life but then I have to face the reality of that.  I don’t think it’s likely but there will always be the possibility that coming out to certain friends of mine might end that relationship.  Although I have no plans (nor do I feel the need to do so) to live full time, I know were I to do so I risk discrimination (both legal and otherwise) at work and in healthcare.

  
It’s not fair.  It’s exhausting.  It’s demeaning.  It’s heartbreaking.  Because of the reality we face we deny ourselves what we want, who we are, and what we want our lives to be.  


However.


If we only watch the news it’s easy to think that the world hates us.  That we are alone.  It feels like that over the last few years there has been an increase in violence and hate towards the LGBTQ+ community.  It feels like every week there’s a new law that attempts to suppress our rights and to make it legal to deny us healthcare.  And there is some truth to this thinking.  It’s very… ah, popular in certain circles to hate us.  It’s very popular to turn us into the scary monster in the ladies room when all we want to do is, well, use the ladies room.  


But it’s important (and essential for our mental health) to switch off the television and stop doom scrolling and get out into the real world.  It’s important to stop denying who we are, yes, but it’s also important to see for ourselves what the world thinks of us.  Of course, it doesn’t matter what the world thinks of us.  And we won’t really know what the world thinks of us, but we can get an idea.  Last month I finally got to spend some time at my favorite art museum, something I had been wanting to do for over a year.  I was dressed in my favorite pair of black patent heels and one of my favorite dresses.  My makeup, as the kids say, was LIT.  I wandered around the museum for a couple of hours, had a snack in the cafe, and browsed the gift shop.  It was, well, it was lovely.  


And the best part was that no one cared.  I mean, they might have cared and kept their thoughts to themselves, but smiles were returned when I caught someone’s eye, no one pointed or stared.  Everyone just paid attention to the art (which is what one does at an art museum).  The world seemed a lot less cruel (and a lot more wonderful) than the news headlines suggested.


And Pride was the same thing.  Of course, I understand Pride is a celebration for the LGBTQ+ community and it’s the last place in the world where someone would stare at a t-girl, but Pride is also attended by allies.  Of course I saw other t-girls, drag queens, gay couples handing hands, and countless others of the LGBTQ+ world.  But I also saw people wearing t-shirts with the world ALLY on them.  I saw women walking around with signs that said “Free Mom Hugs”.  I saw people who loved us.  People who wanted us to know that they supported who we are.  It’s overwhelming to know we can get a hug from a mom, something we need, especially if we can’t get one from our own.


I can’t say how many people I saw (or saw me) at Pride in the two hours I was there.  But like when I went to the museum, I was just another girl enjoying the day.  “Vibing”, as the kids say.  


Pride really underscores the importance of having friends like ourselves, of being involved (to any extent) in our community.  As a t-girl I want to do, well, non-LGBTQ+ things.  And I do.  I don’t only go to LGBTQ+ cafes and shops.  I go to Starbucks and Target, too.  But it’s important to stay involved in events like Pride.  To be visible, to add to the number of people who attend Pride.  To show the world that there are a LOT of us, and that we still stand (and strut) no matter how many people hate us.  

Love, Hannah

MN T-Girls at Pride!

This weekend was the mini-sized Pride Festival in Minneapolis. Due to, well, the whole COVID thing, this year’s Pride’s celebrations were a little smaller than in previous years. Usually the MN T-Girls have a booth but we skipped it this year since the festival was only recently announced and there wasn’t much time to plan.


Although we weren’t there in officially this year our little group had our monthly event at Pride. It was a nice little change from previous years as I normally don’t get a chance to wander around and visit other booths but this year we got to see so much. Like always, the people watching was excellent. 🙂

I am looking forward to next year when we are back with a booth but it was a fun day and we were happy just being there.

Love, Hannah

Ask Hannah!

Occasionally you mention your love for leggings, praising their sexy look and comfort. I only once purchased leggings to give them a try but was disappointed with the wrong sizing, boring fabric and baggy look. I gave them to my wife without thinking twice. But I STILL want the experience of leggings YOU write about. Could you please give me some guidance on how to locate those stores that carry the brands, style, fabric and fit you love??


Like almost everything we shop for, leggings really require you to know your measurements, especially your waist and hips.  I wear leggings in boy mode, never en femme so when I take my measurements for leggings I do so without my hip pads. 

I wear a size 12 (or a medium) in skirts so I use that as my guide for leggings.  Leggings are pretty stretchy so if I am between sizes on a pair I go for the smaller of the sizes.  Length might be an issue for a girl like us, but I care more about the fit around my waist.  The leggings I am wearing now go down just below my calf so I think it’s a good length for them.  


I do have several pairs that I wear on a regular basis.  I have the pair I am wearing now which is a nice, soft cotton blend.  I have a pair of femme leggings I run in, but my favorite pair is a faux leather from En Femme.  


This is something you may need to do some trial and error shopping with, but thankfully leggings aren’t too expensive.  I get most of my leggings from Target which are about ten to twenty dollars a pair. 

Love, Hannah

Have a question for me?  Oh yes you do.  Ask me here!