Some Enchanted Evening Gown

Last month the MN T-Girls had an unforgettable photo shoot with the talented photographers Shannonlee and Melina from Fotofida.

I’ve worked with these amazing photographers a few times over the last year or so and I am always impressed with their talent.  They make getting your photo taken so much fun.  I am thrilled to show the first of the three dresses I wore that day.  I hope you like them!

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I’ll Go With You

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The hashtag #illgowithyou is a sign of support for the transcommunity.  Lord knows that using the ladies room is one of the most conflicting and difficult things a t-girl will do.  And although it gets easier, it never really gets that much easier.  Every ladies room in every mall, store and restaurant is different.  This issue was also one of the most public fear inducing topics of the year and will likely be a controversial issue for a very long time.

I love seeing support for our community from people and organizations that are not transgender.  My wife sent me a link that shows support for us but also a way that we can identify allies who will go with us, meaning they will visit the ladies room with us in case there’s trouble.  In all the years I’ve been using the ladies room I’ve never had an issue but I doubt things will be safer for us over the next few years.

This might also be a good time to remind everyone of Refugee Restrooms, a website that lists safe restrooms for the transcommunity.  It wouldn’t be a bad idea to download their app for when you’re out and about.

Stay safe.  And fabulous.

Love, Hannah

 

 

MN T-Girls: A Celebration for the MN T-Girls!

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The MN T-Girls started in November 2013 and I cannot believe how much time has passed and how many fabulous adventures we’ve had.  We can’t let such an important anniversary pass without a party, so last night we celebrated in style at one of the nicest restaurants in Saint Paul, the wonderful Pazzaluna.

It was a small group, just five of us and it was really nice to put on a little black dress, eat yummy food and talk about…the election.  I know we’ve all had our share of the election right now, but just as the last few years have had an impact on the transgender community, the next few years, and beyond, will likely be the same.  As t-girls we all have concerns and fears and to be be honest, it was really nice to be able to share those same frustrations and encourage each other during such a difficult week.

Of course, we also talked about all the other things t-girls talk about…clothes and make up.  🙂

I was a little…unsure of how the night would go as it was the first time I’ve been out since the election, and with stories against the GLBT community in the news, I was a little apprehensive.  Thankfully it as a wonderful night.  I had more smiles and small talk than I usually do and a very nice group of cis-women stopped by our table and told us how happy she was to see a group like ours.  We all sat and just beamed in her kindness.

I am not sure what the next year in the MN T-Girls will bring or what the next four years in the country will bring, but for one wonderful night, everyone seemed happy to see us.

Love, Hannah

The Pearl of Africa

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I just watched the trailer for ‘The Pearl of Africa’, a powerful documentary about Cleo, a transwoman in Uganda who is fighting for LGBT rights.

Last week I had no fear of putting on a new dress and walking down the street, tomorrow night I will be doing the same.  I do this without (much) fear, but it doesn’t take much to realize how lucky we are.  What we have is owed to the generations of transpeople who came before us.  Years from today, generations will acknowledge the efforts we’re making now.  But the fight for tolerance is a slow one, and it begins somewhere.

The fight for these rights is the story of Cleo.

You can watch the trailer here.

More about the film is below:

Amsterdam – 17 November 2016 Feature-length documentary The Pearl of Africa by Director Jonny Von Wallström, is a standout among the many world premieres this year at IDFA 2016. This film is a touching and romantic story about the inspiring trans woman Cleo, who is fighting for the LGBTI rights in Uganda, a country known to be one of the world’s most transphobic places.

A world acclaimed story about love, hate and being transgender
The Pearl of Africa is an intimate story about the Ugandan trans woman Cleopatra Kambugu’s life, born as a man – transitioned into the woman as she knows she was born to be. This is a intimate love story about Uganda’s trans pioneer and her struggle to be accepted for who she really is.

The film is a unique portrayal of the Ugandan LGBTI society which focuses on love rather than activism. The film takes us on an emotional journey where Cleo travels to Thailand to have her sex reassignment surgery. A documentation of a couple going through their most difficult time. Through an intimate single character perspective and beautiful cinematic visuals, that leaves nobody untouched.

Love, Hannah

Time to Act

I wish I had comforting, positive thoughts to share about this week’s devastating election…but all I have is a plea for action.  The next four years are going to be very difficult.  If the president-elect does everything he said he would do, people from all over the country will have their lives affected in everything from marriage equality to healthcare to immigration and many other ways.

It’s safe to say my heart is broken.

Now that the initial shock is starting to subside, it’s time to think about the future, especially for the next few weeks.  The next four years will likely impact everyone that is not a white, heterosexual male in a very scary way.

We will soon have a vice-president that passed one of the most offensive and frightening anti-GLBT laws in the country.  As a member of the transcommunity and as a human being, I am saddened and scared.  God only knows what laws will be passed on our community.  Could using the restroom for the gender we identify as become a federal crime?  Could health insurance be banned from paying for hormones?

Who knows what will change come January 20th?  Likely nothing good for our community.  For example, the current policy permitting the change of gender on passports was created by executive order, and is likely to be repealed after January 20.

Kara Hurvitz, an attorney and advocate out of Boston is compiling a document that is going around online right now about what different demographics can do now to prepare for the transition of power.  The document has a section for transpeople and I really wanted to share it.

Love, Hannah

Transgender issues/suggestions

  1. Make the deeply personal, and absolutely important decision about how you want to proceed in this climate.  There is no shame in transitioning, but there is also no shame in deciding to put off transitioning until it’s safer to do so.
  2. If you decide to continue with transition, begin the process to change gender markers on passports, birth certificates, and other forms of legal identification:
    1. Birth certificate process
    2. Passport process
      1. Note that current policy permitting the change of gender markers on passports was created by executive order, and is likely to be repealed after January 20.
      2. Note also that an active passport is a necessity for relocating (temporarily or otherwise) to anywhere else in the world, including Canada, so it is a very good idea to have one current and matching your other forms of identification!  You can begin the application process here.  It is possible, though expensive, to get a passport in just a few weeks.  In emergency circumstances it is also possible to get a two-year limited validity passport, though this will be valid for less time and in fewer circumstances than a general passport.
    3. State ID process
  3. If you are on a federal employee health plan or a publicly-provided plan such as MassHealth (or an ACA-created plan), expedite what healthcare you can and explore backup insurance options.
    1. The Commonwealth Care Connector is unlikely to see significant changes, especially in the short term, because it predates the ACA
    2. But Medicaid programming may become more streamlined and restrictive!
  4. Get all the non-marriage materials taken care of in case those protections go away:
    1. Health care proxy
    2. Power of attorney
    3. Beneficiaries of policies
    4. Last will and testament (to ensure your spouse has a legal claim to your assets in the event of annulment)
      1. Check the laws in your state to see what makes a valid Last will.
      2. Make sure you make it air-tight and non-contestable.
      3. Get a lawyer if you can!
  5. Consider contributing to (and referring to) Refuge Restrooms, a web app that compiles information about gender neutral restrooms in public places
  6. Familiarize yourself with the names and numbers of local legal protection groups, which will be working to provide advice, materials, and support over the coming months:
    1. Mass Trans Political Coalition
    2. GLAAD
    3. Transgender Legal Services Network
    4. Trans Road Map (legal section)

The Sylvia Rivera Law Project

Ask Hannah!

Maybe more of an observation than a question. Since only a small few of us t-girls can truly pass I think it’s imperative to then master the finer things to near perfection. I think it’s more thrilling to be in public with your hair and makeup on point and your clothes and accessories to be age and environment appropriate causing a stranger or passer by to either not notice or simply nod with appreciation for looking good and “playing” the part.

Now you are much more public and accomplished than I’ll ever be, so I’d love for you to share your point of view.

Thank you.

I’ve written a little about what I call ‘the myth of passing’ and the older I get and the more I dress, the more I stand by it.  I don’t think passing is something that is realistic for any of us.  I think if I waited until I thought I passed I’d still be sitting in my car in my garage.  Of course, I would have missed out on so many amazing experiences that I’ve had.  I sometimes wonder what I missed in all those years before I was confident enough to go out.

Look at this picture.  Do I “pass”?

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414It doesn’t matter.  I love you all, but it really doesn’t matter to me if you think I pass or not.  I look at the picture and I see ME.  I remember the day it was taken.  It was a Saturday in July, I spent the day at the Mall of America wearing my new dress.  I found an amazing new outfit, spent too much on makeup and bought a pair of black heels.

Looking in the mirror, I know my shoulders are broader than most cis-women, I know my hands are larger, too.  But that doesn’t mean women, trans or cis have to have hands of a certain size.  I’ve seen women basketball players that are taller than me in my stilettos.  And I have tall stilettos.

What got me out of my room, my house, my car, my garage all those years ago was a complete and unshakeable confidence in myself and the undying desire to experience the world in a way I always wanted.  I wanted to feel the wind through my long hair, to hear the click of my heels in the mall, I wanted to see my lipstick on the lid of a Starbucks cup.  I did it and I’ve never looked back.

I love looking my best.  I know I am likely the most overdressed person in the room, the store or the entire mall.  You’re right, it is a thrill to be out with the perfect necklace and accessories and heels to match my dress.

People stare, people take a second look, people say wonderful things, people smile sincerely, people compliment…and that’s all okay.  Even the smirkers.  People look at me as if they’re seeing a transperson for the first time…because there is a good chance they are.  I know I am representing the transcommunity and I want to look my best for us.

It’s okay if people think you’re trans.  And really, you’ll never, EVER know what people think of you unless you ask them.

I never see what I do as “playing the part”.  I simply am who I am.

Love, Hannah