Kylie and Hannah and the Angry Inch

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Today was, well, it still is for a few more hours, The International Transgender Day of Visibility.  I was happy to be able to spend the day being out and, well, visible.  AND FABULOUS.

I was invited by Theater Latte Da to a performance of Hedwig and The Angry Inch.  I had always wanted to see this show which is based off of a movie from 2001 of the same name.  My friend Kylie and I attended today’s matinee performance and had a wonderful time.   Look at us being all visible.

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In the show, Hedwig fronts a band and the story is not so much a traditional play but rather a rock concert where Hedwig and her (really amazing) band play songs that range from rather touching to angry and loud to inspiring.  I really liked all the music, particularly ‘The Origin of Love’ and you can hear all the music from the show here.  Between the songs Hedwig tells the story of her life which is at times funny, touching, and relatable.

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Hedwig is a difficult character.  At times I felt bad for her because of her hard life, a botched operation and unloving mother.  At times I felt bad for her as we learn about her former song writing partner taking all the credit for the work she did as he rockets to fame but leaving her behind.  But at other times I didn’t like her at all as she constantly berated her husband throughout the entire show.

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It’s interesting to see a show like this deals so heavily with transgender issues but also feels outdated, in some ways.  But that’s not the show’s fault.  We as society have evolved and learned so much about gender identity since the show was written in the 1990’s. There’s a terrific and insightful Star Tribune article about this very issue here.

The cast is small and the primary roles are played by Tyler Michaels King and Jay Owen Eisenberg.  King does an impressive job playing such a polarizing character.  King plays to the audience, loves the spotlight and is sincere in the role.  Eisenberg’s role was reduced to being yelled at by Hedwig throughout the entire play, but gets a chance to shine in the end.  I would have liked to have seen more of their character.  The musicians are great, the songs are wonderful and the theater itself is beautiful.

I want to thank Theatre Latte Da for the invitation.  I encourage you to check it out and to let me know what you think!

Love, Hannah

 

 

Just a Small Town T-Girl, Living in a Lonely World

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We all get to the point where we are tired of walking (or strutting) around our living rooms.  We love the sound of our heels on our floors but long to hear them click on the sidewalk and in the mall.  We want to see our reflection in one of those big mirrors that department stores have.  We want to be called “ma’am”.  We love our online friends but, like Ariel, we want to be where the people are.

Living in Minneapolis provides a wonderful opportunity to shop, visit museums, go out to dinner in a city where people are, for the most part, accepting.  However, I think it has more to do with the fact that most Minnesotans mind their own business and keep their thoughts to themselves.  There’s a saying here of ‘Minnesota Nice’ and it’s more or less true.

The city is also large enough that I rarely worry about running into people that don’t know about Hannah.  I can avoid certain areas of Minneapolis and still have a fun afternoon.  I was afraid to go out for years but I realized that people aren’t watching you as much as you think they are.  Try it for yourself.  Go to the mall and walk around in male mode and watch how many people pay attention to you.  People are generally too busy shopping or looking at their phones to care.

However, it is different in male mode.  When I go out to the store as a guy I am pretty forgettable.  Just someone buying coffee or whatever.  Hannah tends to stand out a little (a lot) more as she is dressed to the nines in heels, full makeup and a cute dress.

But still, people are generally too preoccupied with their own thoughts and lives to care.  Everyone has heard of and has seen a transperson so seeing us is not like seeing a unicorn or a celebrity.  Yes, people will probably turn their head as you walk by, they might take a second to stare and process what they are seeing, but that’s not necessarily a malicious act.  You can’t stop someone from looking at you.  You also can’t let them stop you from going out.

I get emails from t-girls who are ready to go out but are scared for a lot of various reasons.  One of the top reasons is that they are afraid someone will look at them.  I get it.  But when you walk out of your house or step out of your car, you are in the real world.  Where the people are.  People are going to look at you.

But what will they think?

I don’t know.  I am not going to ask them.  I also don’t care.  I am not at the mall for them, I am at the mall for me.  I didn’t spend $65 on a makeover for someone else’s approval.

There’s a difference between someone looking at you and someone seeing you, though.  When we go out, no matter how many times I strut out of the house, I do worry about someone seeing me that I would prefer not to.  I am always hyper aware of my surroundings to stay safe.  Whether it is balancing in stilettos as I walk on an icy sidewalk or hurrying past a couple drunk frat boys I am always extra cautious.  If someone is staring at me and I feel uncomfortable, I simply walk away.

Being aware of our surroundings will not only keep us safe(r), but it’s also essential for avoiding those who don’t know about you.  Some of us don’t care, but some of us have bosses and in-laws.  Living in a big city reduces this risk, but some of us are small town t-girls and that makes things more complicated.  Ask anyone who lives in a small town and they’ll tell you that you can’t go to Wal-Mart (why would you go to Wal-Mart, anyway?) without running into a million people you know.  It’s easy to understand why a t-girl is apprehensive about going out.

So, what’s a t-girl to do?  The way I see it, there are three options

The easiest option is the one of least resistance: Do Nothing.  After all, doing nothing is the best way to avoid any sort of criticism.  This is the stay at home option.  Of course, if you are thinking whether you should go out or not, you’ve already made the decision to go out.  You may to decide to push that thought away for now, but it comes roaring back again tomorrow.

The second option is, let’s face it, the scariest option.  Leaving the house for the first time is terrifying.  You stand at the door when your trembling hand on the handle and you go back and forth in your mind a million times until you do the bravest thing ever: you turn the knob.  But opening the door to the rest of the world when the world you are entering into has a population of a thousand people, three bars and a church you realize you are walking into a world where everyone knows you.  They recognize your car.  No matter where you go, you’ll see someone you know.   As brave as I am, I don’t think I could do it if the heels were on my foot.  This takes a level of courage and bulletproof confidence I am not sure I could ever have.

The third option is the most expensive, has the least risk and is probably the most fun.  Go somewhere.  Take a vacation.  Take that midnight train going anywhere.  Pack as many cute dresses and heels that you can, head to Las Vegas, Minneapolis, a different small town or wherever you want and have an amazing time.  Be a tourist.  Sit in the hotel lobby.  Shop.  Go out to dinner.  Go to a transgender support conference.  Go to Target.  Do whatever you want.

Depending on your confidence or how much money is in your purse, these options may or may not be possible.  I get it.  I wish there was another option that would work for you if these don’t.  It’s not easy to be who we are in the world we live in.  It’s hard to be a t-girl in a small town.  It’s hard to be a t-girl in a big world.  But the world will not be easier anytime soon.  It will never be okay.

Love, Hannah

 

 

Marriage and the T-Girl

I have written quite a bit about relationships and our gender identity.

I have always and will always say that we need to be honest and open about who we are before the relationship is serious.

Some of us, for various reasons, weren’t able to do that.  For some of us, we were in denial.  Others thought (and maybe hoped) this was a phase and they would outgrow it.

But the truth comes out.  Whether it is because someone was caught or we simply couldn’t keep it a secret any longer.

If you came out after you were married, I would love to know about your experiences.  How did it happen?  Why did the truth come out when it did?

I understand that this is a very sensitive and difficult topic.  If you feel inclined to share your experiences, please feel free to email me or comment anonymously below.  Spouses are encouraged to comment as well.

Love, Hannah

Trans Visibility Week

From The Journal:

The University of Illinois Springfield kicks off another string of inclusive events celebrating diversity, widespread community support and equality for all. UIS’ second-ever-hosted Trans Visibility Week is co-sponsored by the UIS Women’s Center, Organization of Latin American Students, and Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority, Inc.

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…and this Sunday is the Transgender Day of Visibility!

From HRC:

Transgender people come from all walks of life. We are your coworkers, family and neighbors. We are 7-year-old children and we are 70-year-old grandparents. We are a diverse community representing all racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as faith backgrounds.

International Transgender Day of Visibility is honored every year on March 31 and is a time to celebrate transgender people around the globe and the courage it takes to live openly and authentically, while also raising awareness around the discrimination trans people still face.

I know I’ll be out on Sunday, being all visible and aware of myself and stuff.  Anyone else have plans?

Love, Hannah

Destroy Your Enemies, Not Your Allies

Now that’s a fun title, isn’t it?

When we first start to come out to others, so begins a deluge of feelings, experiences, emotions, desires and dreams.  We are no longer holding back our other selves, the years of secrets and loneliness.  We are free.

Well, more free than we were before.

Of course, after we come out we wait for the reaction from the person we come out to and it always, always, always better to come out than get caught.  I HATE portraying it as being caught but really, that’s what it is.  Your sister seeing you at the mall, your significant other finding your panties balled up in a corner of your drawer, your search history exposed.

That’s not to say you need to come out to everyone.  I certainly have not and I have no plans to.  I believe you should come out to your partner, absolutely.  Whether or not you feel the need to come out to anyone else is up to you.  Some of us come out to friends and family members and I think it’s wonderful to have people in your life that you are close to.   Of course, you never know how they will react, but that’s another topic for another day.

Sure, you may be “caught” by people you never intended to come out to.  I am pretty private about this side of me.  Which is kind of a funny thing to say for a girl who has hundreds of photos of herself plastered all over this site and Flickr.  There are some people I know that I pray to God everyday that they don’t see me at the mall.  But for the most part, I feel I am out to everyone I want to be out to.

Why do we come out?  Why do we come out to certain people in our lives?  Obviously we need to come out to our partners.  Most of us WANT to come out to our partners.  Most of us know it’s not fair to withhold secrets from our our partners but struggle with how to tell them.  But I also think that many of us want to tell our partners because we want to share this side of us with them.  This is a deeply personal side of us and we want to be open and honest with them.  It’s stressful to have a secret and when you come out, you will find that it’s stressful to share a secret.

Just make sure you are coming out to your partner in the right way.  The only problem is that there’s no real right way to tell your partner besides being honest and gentle.  Again, this is a subject for another time.

We come out to others for a variety of reasons.  You might be struggling with this side of you and it may be torturous to not talk about it.  You might be wondering why you have this part of you and what does it mean.  Is it ‘it is what it is’ or is it something more?  Are you someone who loves to underdress and that’s the end of it or is transitioning the right path for you?  Is it somewhere in the middle?  There’s a lot of somewheres in the middle.  I am in the middle.  Coming out to others for support is probably the main reason we do it.

Some of us come out to others because we are, well, tired of keeping it a secret.  We get to a point where it almost feels silly to not be open with them.  Some of us come out to others because maybe they are an amazing makeup artist and we could really use their help.  Some of us come out to roommates because there’s a good chance they’ll see signs, whether flecks of mascara from the night before or panties in the laundry.  Or the big transgender pride flag in your room.

It’s freeing to be out.  It’s terrifying, yes, but it’s a weight lifted, however in reality it’s a weight that is shared.  Coming out (hopefully) creates allies.  You have (hopefully) someone to share this side of you and someone to talk to.  The sense of relief that we have SOMEONE is a feeling like none others.  We came out to someone and they did not set us on fire.

So, now what?

The biggest mistake we make at this point is burning out our allies.  Our confidants.  Our friends.  Our partners.  It’s easy and understandable to do.  I’ve done it.  It’s easy to do because we finally have someone to confide in about this.  Depending on how they react, you may have a new best friend to hit the mall with (in either gender), or someone to just talk to.  Either outcome is priceless.  It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to tell someone about the cute dress you saw online, or someone to share contouring tips with or someone to laugh with about the first time you walked in heels.

At the same time, we have someone we can open up to about the hard stuff with.  The longing we felt in high school when girls would talk about shopping for prom dresses.  The private struggle as we came to grips with who we are, if we did at all.  The isolation we lived with as we believed we were the only ones who felt this way.

Coming out to someone is not unlike a dam breaking.  Feelings, fears, anxiety, experience all come flooding out and the person who is listening to us is going to get absolutely drenched.  After the shock has subsided they will start to absorb, process, and sort what they learned.

Let them.

We don’t need to pounce on them and share with them every single thing we have been holding in.  We can wait on telling them about every experience we ever had or want to have.  Give them space.  Let them approach this on their terms.

Let them come to you.

It’s easy to overwhelm those we come out to.  I came out to my wife while we were dating but at that time it was all about underdressing.  We didn’t talk about it much then.  Once “real” clothes, makeup, and a wig came into the picture we talked about it constantly.  Or to be clear, I talked about it constantly.  My wife has always been my biggest support and helps me with everything from thinking up MN T-Girl events to eyeliner techniques but in those early days every conversation I started was about shopping, asking her to come out with Hannah, and a zillion other girly things.

It’s easy to see why some partners feel they are losing their husbands to another woman.

I burned her out.  I learned that when you come out to someone you need to let them process and talk about this on their own terms.  When they’re ready.  When they need to.  When they want to.  If they want to.  Thankfully my wife is as patient as can be and she, well, put up with me.  But she rightfully had her limits and was honest with me about how much I was overwhelming her.  I backed off.

It’s important that we respect our allies and the people we come out to.  If your mom doesn’t want to talk about this, then don’t.  It’s hard, but if she wants to, she’ll let you know.  It’s also equally important to find support (and friendship) from others like us.  Only a t-girl knows why another t-girl is a t-girl.  PFALG is a wonderful place to find support from others like us and from others who are just happy to talk to us.

We need all the allies and support we can get.  We will make mistakes, whether it’s wearing opaque tights with open toed heels or wearing our best friend out with nothing but conversations about makeup.  But learn from your mistakes.  Learn from mine.

Love, Hannah

 

Ask Hannah!

Hello, I really love to know how I could be more femme.  I am a very tall guy which I really hate.

There’s a zillion things you can do, and what makes one feel femme is different for everyone.  For some nothing is more feminine than bright red nails, or a matching bra and panty set or literally anything else.

You specifically mention being very tall.  How tall is too tall to be feminine?  Remember, there is no standard that one has to meet to be a woman.  I am also tall but once I learned to embrace my height I was that much happier.  I used to want to blend in.  I didn’t want to be noticed, I didn’t want to be seen.  I thought being tall would make me stand out more.  But I realized that I am going to stand out no matter what.  I wear bright pink dresses.  My makeup has more drama than a high school.  There’s nothing about me that blends in, so why not wear whatever I want?

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So I rock the sky-high heels and I am hard to miss.  It’s funny, wearing tall heels makes me feel more feminine that I ever thought I could feel.

The best advice I ever heard about being a tall girl and heels was given by talk show host Wendy Williams.  She says it better than I ever could.

The best thing we can do is embrace ourselves.  Embrace all of you.  Your height, your body, everything.

Love, Hannah

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