Baby, it’s, Like, Really Cold Outside

It was a very, very cold evening last night, but that didn’t stop the MN T-Girls from our monthly adventure!

I had spent the afternoon doing some shopping and meeting a friend for coffee, and by the time I met up with the other t-girls temperatures were a few degrees below zero.  Did sub-zero temperatures and icy sidewalks stop me from wearing a dress with a hemline above the knee and four inch stilettos?

I think you know the answer to that.

For our first outing of 2018, we met at The Townhouse, Saint Paul’s oldest GLBTQA nightclub.  There were about two dozen of us who braved weather that was actively trying to kill us.  We had some drinks, some food, chatted about the holidays, met new friends and a lot of girl talk.  It was a nice way to start the year.  Unfortunately I didn’t get any good photos of the girls but everyone looked fabulous and was dressed a lot more practical than I was.

As the MN T-Girls enters our fifth year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how far the group has progressed and what the future holds for us.  I am constantly thinking about what we’ll do next, whether it’s shopping and makeup lessons or events built around activism.  I try to balance our events that appeal to all members of the group, whether it’s an event at The Townhouse, which tends to be one of the first places a t-girl goes when we leave the house for the first time to something bigger and more public to appeal to those of us who have been out in the real world for years and are comfortable anywhere.

Most of the events for 2018 are already planned out and they range from attending Pride events around the state to makeup demonstrations to photo shoots to holiday parties, but I am always thinking about what we can do.

It is a lot of work planning and coordinating these events and I tell the girls I will always continue to do so as long as the girls show up.

I look forward to what the year brings!

Love, Hannah

 

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Ask Hannah!

Hi there Hannah. Just wanted to start out and say thank you for all you do. I am 31 male but I am finally starting to embrace that I enjoy dressing and possibly being female/transgender. Still unsure of some things as I am finally starting to talk about this and I am seeing a great therapist to help work things out. My questions is I am starting to actually dress and not just fantasize about it and just wondering what some good resources are to help learn how to dress and look more feminine? YouTube is great for somethings but like buying a wig and all the styles and different kinds also knowing how to do make up for my face it’s hard for me to know what would be good for me as everyone is so different? The great thing is I am also from MN so I think your insight would be amazing. Again thank you for all you do and for any advice.

Coming into your look is all about trial and error.  Coming into your look takes time, practice, mistakes and money.  It’s about discovering yourself.  It’s about finding what you like, what you are comfortable wearing and uncovering that part of you that might not get out very much.  It takes time and patience.  No one expects the first time they paint something that it will be a masterpiece.  Be easy on yourself the first (or even the fiftieth) time you dress up or apply makeup.  You might not look as fabulous as you want, but you’re getting there.

This is something you learn by doing.

Everyone has a different perspective on what is and what is not feminine.  The best, and the only way for you to find out what you like to wear is to try on a lot of clothes.  Some things you’ll try and like, others you won’t.  Some dresses make me feel like the prettiest girl in the mall, some make me feel like a man in a dress.  The important thing is for you to wear what you like.

A wig is not much different.  I tried a lot of different styles before I found the style that I like.  I’ve tried wavy styles, longer styles, styles with and without bangs before I found a style that is *me*.  It’s true there are resources out there that will help suggest what style may be best for your face, but really, who cares?  All that matters is what you like.  So, like clothing, try on a lot of different styles and you’ll find what works for you and what you like.

Makeup, like hair and clothes, also takes trial and error.  It took YEARS until I was happy with my look.  It took a lot of practice.  I made a lot of mistakes.  I spent a lot of money. Again, you achieve your look by doing.

So, here’s how you learn makeup. You could watch YouTube videos and learn from them but like buying clothes, everyone is different.  Everyone has different skin, different color, different tone.  What works for me might not work for you.  The easiest way to learn makeup is to have someone teach you.

Makeup is hard to get right.  There are still times when my eyeliner doesn’t look straight or my color correcting is a little off.  The best way to learn makeup is to schedule a makeover.  I know that sounds like the scariest thing in the world, and it is, but it’s the best way to start mastering your look.  Go to the experts, they will show you which products to use, which tones are best for your skin color and they will teach you how to apply makeup.  I’ve been doing my makeup for years and I probably had ten makeovers in the last twelve months and I still learn something new each time.  Remember, you aren’t the first or last t-girl your makeup artist will ever have. They are trained to help girls like us.  Makeup artists are also trained with advanced techniques, like contouring, which totally changed my life.

I have written pretty extensively about getting started and you can read about it here.  I cover topics like shaving, finding your measurements and more.

Since you live in Minnesota, I highly recommend you making a trip to Midwest Makeup Supply in Minneapolis and scheduling a makeup lesson.  While you’re there, I also suggest crossing the street to visit Sunny’s Hair and Wigs.  Both stores are very t-girl friendly.  I have other resources in Minnesota here, and I’d also encourage you to join the MN T-Girls.

Have fun, be safe!

Love, Hannah

 

Ask Hannah!

414Winter fashion advice. One of the joys for me as a CD is when I wear dresses. And then January hits and everything freezes! My question pertains to legwear and shoes. Obviously tights ( one or two pair) are the most warm, but what kind of shoes are appropriate? And is it ok to wear more sheer stockings with open toed shoes or strappy heels? What’s a T girl to do?

I am totally the wrong girl to ask when it comes to appropriate shoes.

Yes, it’s cold out but unless I plan on spending a lot of time outside I usually will stick with what some would consider not-so-sensible shoes.  If the weather doesn’t allow this, then I stick with knee-high boots.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and everyone can wear what they want, but I don’t think open-toed shoes go with non-nude stockings and tights.  I am always wearing stockings and usually go with nude as I like how they show off my legs and even out my skin tone.  Nude stockings will also allow me to wear open-toed heels, too.

Love, Hannah

 

 

Walking While Trans

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Last week I wrote about the common fear we all have when it comes to presenting in public.  The core of what I wrote centered on speculating what others might think of us.  Of course, we will never know what others think of us unless we ask them.  And I don’t plan on asking anyone what they think of me.  Why would I?  Someone once told me that what other people think of you is none of your business, and that’s exactly correct.

Ignoring what others think of us can be pretty simple.  However, it becomes devastating when others tell us what they think of us.  Although almost experience I’ve had has been either mundane or positive, I’ve still had a few instances where someone has said something disparaging to me.  I’ve had two instances this year where someone said something that wasn’t very nice but by then I’ve been going out for years and I felt pretty invincible.  I can’t imagine anyone saying anything at this point in my life that would really affect me.  However, if negative comments were said in the first couple times I went out, it might be a different story.

I thought about all this as I read about a documentary called “Walking While Trans” produced by the website Mic.  According to the article, Mic has produced a series of videos capturing the personal and often insidious moments of aggression and judgment directed at transgender people in public spaces. To capture this, a shooter walked in front of, behind and alongside four different trans individuals while they walked through the streets of New York, filming the ambiguous and ultimately universal moments where strangers glance at one another, with no idea what the other may be thinking. 

I encourage you all to watch this video and read this article.

Be safe.  Be happy.  Happy New Year.

Love, Hannah

Reality and the T-Girl

One of the first books I ever read about being crossdressing was written by Charlie Jane Anders and titled ‘The Lazy Crossdresser’.  If I ever were to write a book, I think it would be called ‘The Realistic T-Girl’.  If I have a message, it’s that being who we are is…complicated and super fun and stressful all at the same time to varying degrees.  Some days are more fun or stressful or humbling than others.  It’s not all pink and high heels and glitter.  I would be wonderful if we could be who we are without any sort of criticism, discrimination, fear, hatred, sideways glances or smirks.

But that’s not realistic.

For some, it would be wonderful for us to “pass”, to appear in public without anyone thinking that we are genetically male or transgender.  I have written pretty extensively about my perspective about “passing” previously and although I don’t believe in “passing”, I understand why this is a goal for some of us.  It was a goal for myself years ago but I don’t care at all what others think of who I am when I go out.  For some of us, we want to be able to look so feminine that no one will think we were born male.

But that’s not realistic.

What helped me go beyond the idea of passing was simply slipping on a pair of heels and experiencing the world as who I am.  I absolutely accept that it’s incredibly likely that anyone who sees me knows that I am transgender, but my experiences taught me that the vast majority of people in the world could care less.  That first time out during the day I interacted with baristas, cashiers, people at Target and restaurant servers and had nothing but positive or at least mundane experiences.  Some people went out of their way to be kind and some didn’t even bat an eye when they saw me.  I had low expectations the first time I went out.  I was scared to death and was hoping that no one would laugh at me or threaten me or set me on fire for being a threat to society.  That didn’t happen and I am pleased that even after all these years I still have not been burned at the stake.  My experiences taught me that no one really cares that I’m transgender.  It would be incredible if no one in the world cared if anyone was transgender.

But that’s not realistic.

We live in a world were people hate us, fear us, misunderstand us and do not even try to.  We live in a world where laws are consistently introduce to repress our rights.  We live in a world where the CDC has banned the very name many of us use to identify who we are.  We live in a world were transgender men and women do get harassed, threatened, hurt and killed on a daily basis simply for existing.

But this will surely change, right?  Maybe not for a couple years but this will change, right?

No.  It won’t.

That’s not pessimism.  That’s reality.  Social justice and social change takes decades, even centuries sometimes, if the change happens at all.  Look back throughout history and you will see that we can pass all the laws we want, but that doesn’t mean everything is fine.  Sure, women were given the right to vote in 1920 but that didn’t solve the problem of gender inequality.  Slavery was abolished in 1865 but the Klu Klux Klan still exists.  I do not expect the hatred and misunderstanding of who we are to go away in my lifetime, in yours, or in the next generation’s lifetime.  It would be nice…

But that’s not realistic.

So, how do we live and be happy and accept ourselves when so many things we want are not realistic?  For starters, you just have to strut out of the house, head held high wearing a smile and not give a second thought to what others are thinking…because for the most part, they don’t care.  And really, how will you know what they think?  Are you planning on asking them?  If there’s anything I want others to take away from my blog it’s how to manage our expectations when reality might be working against us.  For myself, it would be wonderful if I could spend just 15 minutes on my makeup and head out the door.  But the reality is that I am genetically male and hair grows out of my cheeks, neck and all over my face.  I can shave very closely, but I still have a light hue to my face.  So, in my reality, I need to do some color correcting and add three layers of different foundations to counter that.  It would also be idea if I could just pop into Target and find a new pair of heels that fit, but in my reality I need to shop at stores that sell heels that go up to size 11 1/2 and most stores stop selling shoes after size 11.  So close.

My shopping reality takes a little adapting, but it’s fine.  I’ve learned how to live with it.  My reality also means, at times, a complicated relationship with some people in my life, but again, I’ve readjusted my expectations.  It would be wonderful if we could all be who we are without fear of…anything from anyone in our lives, from the gas station cashier to our parents.  It would be amazing if everyone accepted us, loved us.  It would be incredible for us to have “permission” to walk out the door in our favorite dress without fear of anything.

But that’s not realistic.

Instead, we can accept ourselves.  We can love ourselves.  Acceptance and permission does not need to come from the government, from society or from our families.  It doesn’t need to.  Even if we were given this from others, it doesn’t matter if we don’t give this to ourselves.  It’s hard to be who we are.  I get that.  I know that.  For those who are not where they want to be this is very much understood.  For those who have accepted and embraced who we are we know that this did not come easy, and it’s still not always easy.

Reality is…well, it’s difficult at best.  We cannot wait for reality to line up with what we want to be who we are.  If you are waiting for everyone in the world to signal that it’s okay to be transgender then you’ll be waiting a very, very long time.  Instead, it’s time to buy that dress and hit the mall.  The museum.  The steps of the capital.  Anywhere you want.  Any acceptance, tolerance and legal right we have came from those before us.  The brave men and women who marched, who demonstrated, who were arrested, who were hurt and killed for what we have have brought attention and change to our social and legal status.  We may not have everything we want or deserve, but it’s slowly, slowly getting there.  But what we have came from some form of activism, whether it was a protest, a campaign or by simply existing.  I like to think that when I am out in the real world I am helping create awareness that transpeople exist and that we’re normal and not a threat to a society.  I like to think that the more people see us, the more unremarkable we become to others which leads to more acceptance.

If we want to the real world to accept us, then we need to get out in the real world.  So yes, getting a makeover and hitting the mall looking amazing can lead to social change.  How fun is that?

It’s unrealistic to wait for the world to love us and accept us before we let ourselves be who we are, or want to be.  Be you.  Be you now.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

 

The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians

On Tuesday, December 19th, the Twin Cities chapter of PFLAG will be hosting theologian and author Austin Hartke who is promoting his new book ‘Transforming:  The Bible and the lives of Transgender Christians‘ which focuses on faith and identifying as transgender.

From their website:

Austen Hartke is the creator of the YouTube series “Transgender and Christian,” which seeks to understand, interpret, and share parts of the Bible that relate to gender identity and the lives of transgender individuals. Austen is a graduate of Luther Seminary’s Master of Arts program in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible Studies, and is the winner of the 2014 John Milton Prize in Old Testament Writing from the same institution. Currently, Austen lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he is preparing to release a collection of biblical and modern narratives from gender-non-conforming people of faith. His book “Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians,” will be published with Westminster John Knox Press, and released on April 7th, 2018.
 
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Tuesday, December 19th , 2017 at 6:30 pm
Union Congregational Church
3700 Alabama Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55416
 Support groups will be held at 7:30 pm directly following the program.
Let me know if you go!
Love, Hannah