T-Girls – The Next Generation

I know I can only speak for myself, but in conversations with other t-girls, it seems one of the many things we have in common is that we have always been who we are, as far back as we can remember.   Who we are, what we want to wear and be only grows as we get older.

No one outgrows this side of us.  So many of us thought we would stop doing “this” when we hit certain milestones in our lives.  Whether it was becoming a teenager, becoming an adult or even getting married.  But the truth is that we will always be who we are.

Which is wonderful, actually, since there’s nothing wrong with who we are.

As I hit my teen years I grew bolder and more accepting and understanding (and forgiving) of who I was.  I started buying clothes for myself in my teens and purging them a few days or weeks later.  When I moved into my own apartment at age 20 I started to build my wardrobe.  I still purged but it took longer than it used to.  I didn’t purge because I thought I would or could outgrow this, rather I purged because I was terrified of being caught.

When I started the MN T-Girls almost five years ago, I really had no idea who would be members, but I expected t-girls from a variety of age groups.  Today the members of the group number in the hundreds and although I haven’t met everyone yet,  I would estimate that over 90% of the group are in their 40’s or older.  This surprises me.

Most members have discovered the group by googling “Minnesota” and “crossdresser”.  My site is the first option that pops up.  When I was in my teens and the internet was in the early days, the first thing I searched was the term ‘crossdresser’.  I was amazed at how many results the search provided.  It also affirmed my belief that I was far, far from the only one like me out there.  My thinking was that as others like us hit their late teens and early 20ths that they would want to reach out to others like themselves.

When I started the MN T-Girls, I had thought there would be many members in their early 20’s joining the group as that was the age that I had started to grow bolder and wanting to meet others like myself.  But that’s not really the case and I often wonder why.  I would have loved to have found a group like the many that exist today in the Twin Cities at that age.

I have two thought on this.

My first thought is that perhaps a support or social group is just not needed.  I started the group because I wanted to connect with others as Hannah.  I wanted to have friends as Hannah.  There are very, very few people in my life that know me as both of my genders.  I had wanted to expand this number but for various reasons I don’t see myself coming out to anyone else in my life.  In a recent survey, more U.S. teens than previously thought are transgender or identify themselves using other nontraditional gender terms, with many rejecting the idea that girl and boy are the only options.  This aligns with the thought that perhaps the younger generation does not feel the need to seek out support for others like them because they are finding the support within their own current social circles.  If their friends and peers are accepting of those who identify as transgender, then the need to find support may not be as strong.  I often think that if more people in my male life knew about Hannah, I may not have needed to start the T-Girls.  But I’m glad I did.

My second thought is that coming out as transgender is still terrifying for many of us and it’s still easy to think that no one would understand or accept who we are, regardless of a survey indicating that more youth are identifying as gender non-conforming.  Those in their late teens and early 20’s just simply many not be ready to reach out.  As much as I would have moved to have joined a group like the MN T-Girls or attend a PFLAG meeting when I was younger I probably would not have been ready to do so.  Although the support and acceptance from one’s peers may be there, there is also more media attention and laws that specifically target the transgender population than ever before.  Almost every day there is a news story about a high school and the issue of which bathroom a transgender teenager is allowed to use.  Far too often there are reports about a transperson getting ridiculed, hurt or worse for simply being who they are.  There may be more acceptance, but there is also more vocalized hate than ever before.  From that perspective, it’s not a surprise that more of us are not coming out.

But these are just my thoughts.  I would love to hear from others on this topic, especially from those in their teens or late 20’s.

Love, Hannah

 

 

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Lights, Camera, MAKEUP!

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Yesterday was the monthly MN T-Girls adventure and it was an unforgettable afternoon!

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The girls visited Midwest Makeup Supply in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis for a day of beauty, makeup lessons and shopping.  Midwest Makeup Supply is owned and ran by Corrie, a rockstar in the Twin Cities makeup world.  She does everything from bridal to special effect makeup to drag makeovers.  She also does complete gender transformations and will soon have a new photography studio in the Saint Paul area.

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This was our second visit as a group to Midwest Makeup Supply and it was just as incredible as the first.  Corrie started the afternoon with three different makeup demonstrations showing us everything from color correcting/beard cover, highlighting, and contouring.

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Corrie then moved onto teaching us how to have fuller lips using liner and lipstick and some tricks for our eyebrows.  I learned so much about everything from finishing sprays, foundation to primer to bronzer.

After the demonstrations were over, it was time to shop!  Corrie and Nico helped us all pick out the right foundations, powders, eye shadow, makeup brushes and everything else.

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After we all maxed out our credit cards we went across the street for dinner at ‘It’s Greek to Me’.  In addition to amazing food we were also treated to incredible hospitality and were made to feel very welcome.

Huge thanks for Corrie and Nico and to all the t-girls who came to the event.  I can’t wait to play with my new makeup!

Love, Hannah

Ask Hannah!

The Super Bowl is in your town this weekend. Are you a football fan? Do you plan to wear a football themed outfit to watch the big game?

I was wondering why there was so much more traffic this week!  😉

I am not a football fan, so I am not planning on watching the Super Bowl.  But even though I am not a Vikings fan, I still wear purple on occasion.

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I am proud that Minneapolis is getting a lot of attention at the moment, though.  I think we have an amazing city for many reasons.  It’s a very progressive city that has a lot of resources and support for our community.  In November Andrea Jenkins became the first out trans woman of color elected to public office in America.  The University of Minnesota also recently curated an exhibit documenting the history of the transgender and gender non-conforming community. IMG_0593

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If you’re in town for the game I hope you enjoy our city and I promise you that it’s not normally this cold.

Love, Hannah

A Big Fabulous Spectrum

I’ve gotten quite a few emails lately about people questioning their gender identity.  Someone may love to wear dresses, but does that mean they are transgender?  How often, and to what degree to you “need” to step outside of traditional societal gender norms to be “allowed” to be transgender?

First of all, there is no such thing as not being trans enough.  There’s no qualifying exam.

Got it?  Good.  🙂

It was explained to me a few years ago that the term ‘transgender’ is a big, fabulous umbrella that can cover a wide variety of gender identities and that when someone does something that is outside of stereotypical gender norms that are usually associated with the gender that is assigned as birth that it falls under being transgender.

So, a big tough construction worker that wears panties?  Transgender.  A 20 year coffee shop barista that paints his nails?  Transgender.  Someone who spends two hours on their makeup and selecting an outfit and styling their wig to hit the mall?  Transgender.

Being transgender is a hard thing to explain as it can cover quite a wide spectrum.  We may all be trans, but my trans-ness is likely different than yours.  Sure, Laverne Cox is transgender and so am I, but there’s a world of difference between she and I.

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I highly recommend watching this little video that nicely summarizes many of the terms that our community has.  Thanks to Jennifer for sending this over.

Love, Hannah

myTransHealth

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Hello, I wanted to pass along some information about a new app called myTransHealth.

What is myTransHeath?  Well, from their FAQ section…it connects trans people with qualified, culturally competent providers in their neighborhood. Our location-based search tool offers resources in four categories: medical, mental health, legal, and crisis care.

Their perspective is that access to quality healthcare is a crisis in the transgender community. Patients often face discrimination or refusal of treatment due to their gender identity. These experiences disproportionately affect transgender people of color.

Love, Hannah

Days Like This

If there is one thing I want someone to take away from reading my blog is that yes, I know it’s scary to go out for the first (and fiftieth) time.  I know we all wonder what people are thinking, but the point I try to make is that you will never know what people think.

For the most part, I have had only positive, or at least unremarkable interactions out in the real world.  I’ve been going out for more than five years now and I almost forget that I am doing something that I used to be terrified in doing.  It’s always fun to go out, but it’s normal these days.  I’ve gone from “I’m going out into the real world and I better have my guard up” to “I’m going out into the real world and I need a coffee.”

That’s good, right?  That being said, my guard is always up, it needs to be, but having my guard up is second nature and I don’t even think about it.  It’s just…always up.  I’m always breathing, my guard is always up.

I’ve said before that what someone thinks of you is none of your business.  And it’s true, I don’t want to know what you think of me, unless of course you think my lipstick is cute, you like my dress or you’re complimenting me on my ability to walk in stilettos.  I don’t think anyone minds when someone says something nice about us, and I think for the most part people are generally kind and likely won’t say anything negative to you.  But the world is filled with jerks who feel it’s their right, maybe their obligation, to tell you what’s on their mind and to harass you.  I know that people at the mall don’t care what I think, so why do they suppose I care about what they think?  Guess what?  I don’t.

Although for the most part my adventures have been wonderful, I still get second glances and stares.  And that’s okay, I look amazing and I don’t mind.  You look amazing, too, by the way.  I don’t spend any time trying to figure out why someone is staring, but I am self-aware enough to know I am well over six feet tall in heels and I am likely wearing a “look-at-this-fabulous-dress” dress so I am not surprised by the looks.  I am also a t-girl and, let’s face it, not everyone has seen a transperson before out in the real world so it’s not unrealistic someone sees me and is processing it for a moment.

And this is okay.   I knew I was ready to go out into the real world once I accepted the fact that people would probably always react this way.  Being prepared for the worst made the positive, even the mundane experiences, even better.

But people are people and some think that their opinion and perspective needs to be heard.  I know that there are many people, for many reasons, whether politically or religiously or whatever, think that transpeople are…well, not okay.  We’re unnatural, heathens, perverts, confused, or not part of God’s plan.  I understand that others will have this perspective and belief system, but I am not on this planet to make anyone but myself happy.  I am not living my life to make others comfortable and neither are you.  Well, maybe you are, I don’t know.  Are you?

I have no illusions about myself or how others see me.  I fully accept that others “know” I am trans.  And with that, I also fully accept that others will think of me as a man in a dress, a guy playing dress up or something derogatory.  Some members of the transcommunity embrace the term “tranny”, but I think it’s offensive.  Regardless, most people don’t care about me and what I’m wearing and they are distracted and engaged in their own life, or, more likely, staring at their phone.  Some people do want to share their opinion and for the most part, it’s overwhelmingly positive.  Some will compliment my outfit whether it’s because they sincerely like it, or because it’s another way of saying “I support the transcommunity” and will go out of my way to make me feel welcome.

FullSizeRender(3)But the point is that there will always be those that just don’t like us.  If you go out at all, whether once a year or once a week or living full-time, the odds are pretty good someone will say something that will not be very nice.  How you react to it is one thing, but being prepared and accepting that you’ll likely have that experience does make it easier to leave the living room.  Last year at the mall I was having a nice afternoon shopping (of course) and a woman walked across the hall and intentionally bumped into me and loudly said “oh, excuse me, SIR”.  At first I was confused.  I was wearing a cute white dress with a floral patterns, matching accessories, nude heels, my favorite lipstick and carrying a purse.  It took me a moment to remember that not everyone will respond to me as the gender as I am presenting as.  Once that moment of confusion passed, I realized what had happened.  Although I will never know why she did this, it was pretty clear she wanted to make me feel uncomfortable, stupid or embarrassed.  Perhaps she felt that I needed to know that I wasn’t “fooling” her.  I don’t know.  I don’t know what she thought of me.  I didn’t ask.   I didn’t care.  Still don’t.

So, what happened next?  Well, nothing, to be honest.  It wasn’t worth thinking about or speculating about.  Rude people are not worth your time or energy.  Don’t let them steal your sparkle.  It didn’t ruin my day or bother me or hurt my feelings in the slightest.  I didn’t feel stupid, I didn’t feel embarrassed, I didn’t feel ugly or male.  Whatever she wanted to accomplish, she failed miserably.  I went on to have a fabulous afternoon and evening, found two really cute dresses and had a fun, thirty minute conversation about politics with a grandmother, her daughter and her granddaughter from Missouri.

You’ll have good days, bad days and days that are unremarkable.  You’ll have days where you’ll find the perfect matching heels for the dress you bought two years ago but have never worn.  You’ll have days where you’ll have lipstick on your teeth and run your stockings.  You’ll have days where you stumble a little in your stilettos and lose an earring.  You’ll have days where someone will call you ‘sir’ and smirk.  You’ll have days where a grandmother from St. Louis will call you the sweetest thing and waiters will call you ‘ma’am’.  Mama said there would be days like this, and she was right.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

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