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.

Capture

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

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myTransHealth

about-hero

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

 

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