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

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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

Fab-Yule-Ous!

IMG_0694I am having a hard time believing that Christmas Eve is two weeks away.  The holiday season can be stressful and busy, which makes the annual MN T-Girls holiday party all the more fun!

Last night about fifteen of us gathered for drinks, food, holiday music, girl talk and fun.  It was a time to take a break from the busy holiday season, show off our new sparkly Christmas and look back on 2017.  In addition to using the night as an excuse to be fabulous, we also sponsored a family who has had a really hard year.  Because of the generosity of the group, we were able to give a family a hopefully brighter holiday by donating money and gift cards.  Seeing the T-Girls open their hearts and purses to this family who has been struck by tragedy made my heart soar.  Thank you to everyone who helped.

I had such a fun time and I spent a bit of the evening reflecting on all the amazing things we did this year as a group.  I made a lot of new friends and had a lot of new adventures.  We talked about what we want to do next year and I am excited and recharged for our next events.  Organizing and planning a group like this is exhausting but it’s also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.  Thank you to every MN T-Girl out there for making the group as successful as it is.

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I can’t wait for 2018!

Love, Hannah

Fall Photo Shoot – Yellow Dress

I found this dress over a year ago and I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it.  I bought it without even trying it on, as I was confident it would fit as it was my size.  When I got home I was crushed because I couldn’t even zip it up.

I know what you’re thinking….that I need to drop a few pounds before I could wear it, but to be honest, I didn’t think that was it.  The zipper had this annoying little catch that didn’t allow the zipper to go up all the way, even if I wasn’t wearing it.

Determined to wear this dress, I actually had the zipper replaced…but it was still giving me trouble.  I looked into all sorts of tricks to help a zipper glide more smoothly but nothing worked.

I really wanted to wear this for my recent photo shoot, so I took the dress out of the closet, and zipped the zipper up and down about a million times and it seemed to have gotten the kinks or whatever out of it.  The first time I was able to get the zipper up while wearing it was a wonderful experience.

I love how these photo turned out and I can’t wait to wear this again!

Love, Hannah

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Ask Hannah!

Hi Hannah, I’ve been cross dressing for almost 2 years now. Was it hard to go out in public for the first time, and what was your friends and family’s response?

It was hard to go out the first time, but each time I’ve gone out it has gotten easier.  The first time you go out, I would recommend going to a PFLAG meeting or another LGBTQ support group.  Knowing you are going to meet a supportive group of people will make our first time out a little easier.

Before you go out, please make sure you are ready.  Before I go out, I always make sure my purse has:

-Eyeliner

-Lipstick

-Finishing powder

-Mascara

That’s the fun stuff.  The reality is that I have a lot more in my purse than makeup.  I recommend every t-girl have the following in their purse:

-Cash.  This is pretty obvious but I use cash for everything when I go out.  If I want to get a coffee or need to pay for parking, I use cash.  I like cash because I don’t run the risk of turning over my credit card (with my male name) to a cashier.  I also bring my debit and credit card just in case.

-Proof of car insurance.  If you get into an accident or get pulled over, you’ll need to provide proof of insurance.  Simple enough but plan for the worst.

-Fully charged cell phone.  Pretty self-explanatory.  You’ll need it in case of emergency.  Any emergency.

-Roadside assistance information.  You need to know who to contact if you get a flat tire.  Sure, I can change a tire myself, but no way I am doing that in a dress or heels.

-Driver’s license.  Again, if you get pulled over…

-Spare car key.  If you’re not used to carrying a purse, you might forget to place your keys in it.  A spare key tucked in your purse saves a call to a locksmith.

-Medical insurance card.  Again, plan for the worst.

-A friend.  I don’t mean bring a friend with you, though shopping is a lot more fun if you do, but if you’re out to anyone in your life, drop them a message to let them know you’re stepping out.  It’s good to let someone know you’re out on the town in case you need help.

-I would also recommend downloading the Uber or Lyft app.  If you run into car troubles and need help, having this on your phone can be a lifesaver.  I have an app on my phone and I have multiple accounts associated with it.  One for my male life, one for Hannah.  I’ve used Uber as both genders and I’ve never had an issue.

Where should you go?

Anywhere you want, but plan ahead.  Is there a GLBT friendly coffee shop in town?  Maybe start there.  Or a GLBT bar?  That’s another option.  For your first time out, some of us go someplace where they’re used to seeing girls like us.  It’s important to get used to being out in public and it’s easier if you know you’re not the first t-girl, or the only t-girl there.  If there’s not a place like that in your area, I bet there’s a PFLAG or a Tri-Ess chapter that meets near you.

Being comfortable out will take time but you will get there.  I never thought I’d go to a restaurant or a mall or a gas station in heels, but I do it all the time.

Not comfortable yet in your area?  Drive to a bigger city.  Get a hotel room there, have an adventure!  Bigger cities tend to be more liberal and open minded than smaller towns.  When I go to downtown Minneapolis, I walk down the street confident in knowing I am not the first or last transgirl to strut that street that day.  Bigger cities have seen girls like us before.

Will people see you?  Of course they will.  You’re out in public.  Will they point?  Will they laugh?  Will they whisper behind your back?  Maybe.  But really, so what?  I go out all the time and very, very rarely does anything like that happen.  And the more often I go out, the less I notice it.  Will people recognize you?  Maybe.  If you’re afraid of that happening, again, go to a different town.

I know I was nervous people would point and snicker while I was out in the real world, but that hasn’t really happened to me.  I’ve interacted with everyone from baristas to shop clerks to gas station employees to waiters and I’ve never had a bad experience.  No one has been rude or laughed or anything.  The world is a wonderful place sometimes.

Safety is the number one concern, of course.  I know what parts of my city are safer and I’m sure you do too so don’t go there.  Go somewhere where you can park in a well lit area as well.  Going out for the first time is nerve wracking enough but going someplace a little iffy is just adding more stress that you don’t need.

Looking back, I have only come out to my friends who are LGBTQ, and it’s all gone very well.  Now that I think about it, I have only come out to maybe five friends.

Coming out to my mom and sisters were both very different experiences.  I think if I were to do it all over again, I definitely would do things differently.   I’ve written a little about this previously.  But, the short version is that my family loves me, they understand me as best they can and I love them.

Love, Hannah