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





6 thoughts on “Reality and the T-Girl

  1. Wow Hannah, that was awesome …. so well written and definitely from the heart … like one of those famous locker room coach’s speaches that inspire the underdog to be victorious over a heavily favored adversary. Makes me want to slip on a new dress and strap on some comfy heels and take on the world …. or at least the mall. But the reality is its all packed away fro the holidays until the house guests leave. Love reading your blog … but this one is definitely a highlight.


  2. I feel empowered by the gay community’s battle cry of the eighties: “we’re here, we’re queer. Get used to it!” When I go out as a man in feminine clothes, there are bound to be people who think my look is “wrong on so many levels”. I say the world got used to women wearing pants to work, it can get used to men wearing pretty clothes. I’m not asking them to like it, just to respect my choice.


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