Ask Hannah’s…Wife

We know what it is like to be us.  We know how complex, stressful, conflicting, and wonderful it is to be who we are.  Sharing this side of us is not easy and I do my best to write about what our partners may be feeling, thinking, or worried about when it comes to being in a relationship with someone like us.

Most of the questions I get are about making this work within a relationship.  Much of what I write about is about being considerate of what our partners may be experiencing.  The truth is that every relationship is different and there is not a roadmap as to how to make this work for every couple.

Talking to other t-girls and their partners gives me a lot of perspective on how this side of us affects their relationship.  How this works, how it doesn’t, and what someone is feeling.  There are many things that these relationships have in common but there are also elements that are as unique as every relationship.

My wife and I talked a lot in the early days.  I learned a lot then, and now years later I am still learning and listening.  Some things she felt then but couldn’t voice them at the time.  One thing that was always there was a feeling of loneliness when I came out to her.  Who could she talk to?  Who could she confide in?  Who would understand?

Many of our partners felt, and feel, this way.  The internet wasn’t helpful and in many ways added to her fears.  There are resources for those who have partners who are transitioning, but not many resources for those who are married to people like me… and probably you.

Seeing this lack of resources, my wife has offered to answer some questions.  My wife is many things, but it’s her gentleness, honesty, and realistic perspective that I feel are among her strongest traits.

If you are transgender, and especially if you are the partner of someone like me, please add your questions to the comments before.  You can post anonymously or you can email me at hannahgotta(at)gmail.com.

I assure you confidentially if you send an email.  Names and email addresses will not be posted.

I can’t promise every question will be answered, but every one will be read by her.  Questions will be taken for about a week and her responses will be posted at a later date.

Love, Hannah

 

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SEX

Now that I have your attention…

Accepting yourself and identifying as transgender is one of the most significant and life-changing moments you will ever experience.  This acceptance can lead to feeling anxious, feeling free, feeling burdened, feeling confused, or even just feeling relieved that we have touched on why we feel what we feel and figured out who we are.

This embracing of yourself will often lead to the question of what’s next.  Okay, you’re trans, this is more than just about wearing panties, what do you do now?  The short and bitchy answer is, well, anything you want.  You can go fishing if you so desire.  Being transgender is not like building a bookshelf from Ikea.  There is no clear step two.   There may not even be a step two.  You don’t even have to do anything next.  Well, you should have a conversation with your partner, of course.

But there usually is a next step.  We usually want to…well, keep going.  We learned and accepted something huge about our gender identity and it’s normal to keep going in that direction.  It’s not much different than being on an airplane and not getting off when it lands.  For some of us we want to try other clothes.  That dresser full of lingerie might be a start of a new wardrobe.  We own a dress…but maybe we should find a cute pair of heels to go with it.  Maybe the next step is seeking support from a group or a therapist or counselor.  Maybe it’s time to talk to a doctor or your family.  Maybe you are ready to schedule that makeover.

Or maybe you don’t do anything.  You don’t HAVE to do anything next.  You don’t have to do anything right away.  For some of us we lived with the conflict or uncertainty of who we were for decades.  It took a long time to get to the point where we accepted that we are transgender.  But making decisions too quickly and without thinking things through is a bad thing.  Beware the pink fog.

Acceptance of yourself is more important than passing.  Mainly because accepting yourself is real and passing is not.  If I waited to experience the real world until I “passed” I would still be sitting in my car in the garage.  When I think about everything I have experienced or done over the last few years it makes me so happy that I opened the door, strutted out and never looked back.  It makes me wonder what else I missed before I was convinced I needed to pass.  I never passed.  Still don’t.  Never will.

Once you accept yourself and start experiencing the world presenting as your preferred gender (and this can be your preferred gender for the day or for the rest of your life), you have grown more powerful than ever before, even if your knees are knocking and you shake in the heels that you practiced walking in for weeks.  You will interact with the world and the world will react to you.  This will result in varying outcomes, some wonderful, most of them mundane and unremarkable…but there will be some that will break your heart and some that will make you angry.  Some will make you want to go home and never leave again.  All of these things will happen.  Sometimes in the same afternoon.  Yes, someone will likely give you a dirty look but remember, this will never be okay.  Don’t let some jerk steal your sparkle.

Whether you are dressed from head to toe in wig and heels or in male mode with painted nails, when you are outside the traditional social gender norms you will experience the world in a new way.  And you will likely want more.  I know I did.  The first real time I went out during the day it was just to experience something as every day as getting a coffee.  But that went well and I wanted to do something more.  So I did.  A trip to Target, a couple of malls, more coffee shops…

Over the last few years I have done so many things I never thought I would be brave enough to attempt.  Whether it was a makeover or a trip to the mall to try on dresses or attending a Pride festival, I’ve experienced more than I ever thought possible.  There’s very little left that I can think of that I still want to do.  Some of these things I did because I simply wanted to see what it was like to shoe shopping en femme.  No surprise, but it was a lot more fun.

The point is that many of us want to experience things en femme.  This can range from everything from watching a movie at home dressed to the nines, doing laundry in leggings to wearing a negligee during sex.

So, let’s talk about sex and the t-girl.

This is a very intimate, serious, and sensitive subject.  There is nothing more personal than the sexual relationship between two people.  Obviously I am not going to share anything about my own experiences here or…ever.  Instead I want to talk more broadly about what many in our community and their partners have shared with me regarding their experiences.

I go back and forth as to whether or not I wear what I wear because I am transgender or I am transgender because I wear what I wear.  I think kind of a gateway to something new and something bigger.  Perhaps something fascinating and forbidden.  It was ingrained in us at early age that boys do not wear bras or nightgowns which only fuels the curiosity, intrigue, and longing.  Lingerie is a beautiful secret that you wear.  Going to the office wearing lacy panties and matching bra under your suit is really kind of amazing.  Its something you wear for yourself…or possibly for someone else.  Someone might wear sexy undies to bed because they like it, or they wear it because their partner likes it.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that there are some who dressing up is nothing more than fetish and is completely sexual.  Simply put, dressing turns them on, they wear lingerie (or whatever) when they want to…ah, well, you know.  They dress up, they have sex, or masturbate and…that’s that.  Until the next time.  Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with this.  You do you, I guess.  But like anything sexual between two people, both have to be on board.

It is not unheard of that a t-girl wanting to wear lingerie in intimate moments.  Lingerie might help someone feel beautiful no matter what they are doing, during sex or simply under your clothes when you go grocery shopping.  Someone wearing a lacy nightie to bed is something they are doing for themselves, and possibly for their partner.  However, t-girls need to be aware that surprising their partner by doing something similar can be… well, it probably won’t go as planned, especially the first time.

This is one of those moments that both partners involved want to avoid.  Nothing derails a moment like an awkward (to say the least) surprise.  This is something that should be discussed before it happens, especially if going outside traditional gender norms regarding clothes is new to the relationship.  Don’t tell your wife you are a crossdresser on Friday and then greet her in the bedroom on Saturday wearing a corset and stockings. (Unless she asks, of course.)  Communication between a couple is important and it’s never more evident than when it comes to intimacy, fantasies, and what happens in bed.  Or the living room, if you are so inclined.

Many t-girls and crossdressers want to experience things as a different gender identity.  Sometimes it’s going shopping en femme and sometimes it’s being intimate en femme.  This is not uncommon.  However, your wife being okay with you wearing panties under your work clothes is not the same as her being okay with you wearing them in an intimate moment.  You should not assume she will be.

The best, and only way to know what your partner is comfortable with in the bedroom (or anywhere) is to ask.  Tell them what you want to try, what you want to wear.  If they are not comfortable with it, then drop it.  It may be hard to let go of a fantasy or a desire, but…drop it.  Move on.  Seriously.  If they change their mind they will let you know.  You don’t need to ask again.  Drop it.

If you partner is receptive to you dressing in bed, wonderful.  Their feelings are still something you need to be conscious of.  Maybe she wants to be the pretty one in bed sometimes.  Maybe leave the lingerie in your drawer once in a while.  She may feel intimidated by your matching bra, garter belt, panties and stockings when all she has on is a simple teddy.  She may not want to have sex with a woman.  She might want to have sex with her husband.  Again, beware of the pink fog.  Sometimes it clouds our judgment, sometimes we choose to let it cloud our judgement.  I think you know what I mean.

We know being in a relationship with someone like us is not easy.  This is part of that.  Be kind.  Be generous.  Be worth it.

Driving a car is different in heels, having sex in heels (among other things) is different too.  Some crossdressers and t-girls may, well, take on a different role.  Or different behaviors.  They may want different positions, accessories, different role-playing scenarios…  Some want to be called their female name.  Sometimes these changes are a turn on for our partner…sometimes it isn’t.  You and your wife watching a movie while you are dressed up is not the same thing as you being in bed en femme with her.  Don’t assume your partner is okay with “her” in your living room and the bedroom.  Again, communication.  Both verbal and non-verbal.  Pay attention.  If your partner is communicating something to you, don’t ignore it.  Don’t pretend that you aren’t picking up on it.  Communicate.  Before.  After.  During.

If gender is…well, flexible, then it stands that sexuality can be as well.  Some t-girls say they are straight in male mode but bisexual as a girl.  Some are attracted to men when they dress up, or at least that’s when they admit it.  Dressing en femme can bring about different feelings.  Different aspects or parts of our personality can appear when we are wearing certain clothes.  Some men feel confident in a certain suit, some feel a sense of hometown pride when their wear their team’s football jersey.  Some guys get a boost of confidence from a pair of expensive sneakers.  When I am dressed I feel different, too.  I don’t feel like sleeping with a man, but I feel more social, chattier, and braver.

There are those who feel the attention from men helps them feel more like a woman.  The attention validate them.  It’s flattering to some.  Some t-girls and crossdressers want to experience as many things as they can en femme and for some that includes having, or fantasizing about, sex with men.

To the partners out there, yes, I know this is a fear.  It’s hard enough finding out your beer drinking, Fantasy Football playing man likes to dress up, but the fear that they might want to be with another guy is a different level.  There is nothing more important than trust between two people, and many partners entered into committed relationships without the full disclosure of their partner’s gender identity.  It’s not uncommon to feel betrayed, deceived, or mislead.  There’s no excuse for lying.

Will your partner want to be with a man?  Maybe?  Sexual and romantic preference and gender identity have little in common, so while it’s understandable to worry that they will want to be with another male because they wear lingerie in bed, it’s not necessarily the same thing.  I do not believe it is inappropriate to ask your partner this question.  Your partner coming out as a crossdresser or transgender or as someone who likes to dress up every once in a while will trigger a lot of questions, feelings, and confusion.  You are trying to process this.  This is likely new territory for you.  Ask us anything you want.

I know its not easy.  I know it can be…shocking, off-putting, a mood killer, even heartbreaking and devastating to see your man in a corset and panties.  It’s a lot to take in.  This doesn’t mean you aren’t supportive of the LGBTQIA community.  You fight for equality and love your gay friends, but seeing your spouse in a garter belt is a little different.  You choose your partner for many different reasons.  You choose them because of their personality, sense of humor, interests, and probably because of their appearance.  You were, and hopefully still are, attracted to them.  Seeing someone you love in a dramatically different gender presentation, whether it is everything from wig to those cute bedroom heels or them wearing a simple nightgown takes some time.  It may take a few minutes or it may takes years or it may never happen.  And that’s okay.  Tell them how you feel.  You can be an ally and a fighter for the community even when you struggle with your emotions and thoughts regarding your partner’s gender identity.  Your feelings count too.  And you will have feelings about this.

You may feel that this isn’t the person you married.  We insist we are.  Many of us tell our partners that whether we are wearing lingerie or a suit that we are still the same person.  I don’t think this is necessarily true.  Coming out and accepting yourself changes someone.  We feel braver but at the same time we are feeling more vulnerable.  We just shared something that for decades was a secret.  This becomes an elephant in the room.  In the days, weeks, and months ahead this hangs over the pair of you.  It can create tension, stress, and unspoken thoughts.  Resentment, albeit temporary, is not unheard of.  It can consume both you and partner.  While you might be trying to not to think about it, we might be dying to talk about it.  We may want to ask for help with shopping or applying eyeliner.  We want our partners to go out with us.  We want to share this side of us with the most important person in our life.  We have been wanting to tell you since the day we met.  We have for years kept this side of us private and now we are ready to slam the pedal to the metal.

But we lived with the secret for years.  Our partners need time to catch up.  They cannot go as fast as we are ready to.  We feel we are the same person regardless of how we are dressed…because this is who we have been our entire lives.  But we have just revealed another side of us, the biggest side of us and it’s understandable that others in our lives might look at us in a different light, at least for a while.

Our partners are processing this.  And it’s not easy for us to be patient as they do that.  We are wondering what they are thinking and the reality is that they are thinking a million things.  Or they might be trying to not think about it.  They can’t always express just exactly what they are feeling or going through.  Your partner looks and thinks of you differently.  You have something about you that they never suspected.  They may have thought there was…something about you that they couldn’t quite put their finger on, but this probably wasn’t what they imagined.

I felt different when I came out to my wife, my mom, and my siblings.  I wasn’t the same person.  It was a feeling of…well, like there was a new reality.  They knew about me, they knew the half of me that was a secret that I kept every single day up until that point.  It was awkward, it was uncomfortable at times.  I gave them space and was honest with their questions.  We can do no less for our partners.

Think back to when you’ve come out to someone.  Life all of a sudden felt different, didn’t it?  You feel different.  You might feel a weight has been lifted or that you turned the world inside-out.  My point is that we might think we are the same person before and after we come out.  We might think we are the same person whether we are in jeans or a nightgown.  But we know we are not.

Finding a balance between more than one gender identity is not easy but it can be done.  We need to find that balance in our own lives, but we also need to make sure the balance works (as much as it can work) for our partners.  It might not.  I am not going to suggest that every marriage will be able to make it work.  In many relationships this is not what our partners signed up or what they expected.  If your partner does not want this in their relationship it does not make them a bad person.  This is a lot to ask of someone and it’s a reminder why it is important and necessary to come out to your partner before the relationship gets serious.

Finding a personal balance varies from person to person.  We might want to dress up three times a week, but that might be too much for your partner.  It’s not that different (but it’s also totally different) than you if you wanted to go out for beers with the guys after work several times a week.  Be considerate of your partner’s feelings.  Be there with them.  Be present.  Be worth it.

All the time.

In every room of the house.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Hannah!

I’m just curious, other than that time you ran into your mom, have you ever been caught out as Hannah by someone from your “Non-Hannah” life? If so, what did you do? How did you react?

No, thank goodness.

The only time something similar happened was when I was in male mode shopping for a skirt at Target and ran into my sister.  This was a couple years before I came out to her.  I wasn’t in the women’s section and hadn’t picked anything out, so it was a close call.

When we go out in public we do that with the acceptance that we may potentially run into everyone we know, whether that is our boss or the conservative side of our family.  Although there are things we can do to minimize the risks, we need to understand that this can happen.

So, what do we do when that does happen?  It will depend on who you run into, of course.  My boss?  I may as well quit my job and leave town.   My best friend?   Then it’s time for an overdue conversation.

If you wish to remain in the closet to some people in our lives, then we must remain conscience of where we go and be vigilant of who is in the room or the store.

There is no right way to come out to someone.  Those conversations may be carefully planned for weeks or may be unexpected and happen at the mall.  It’s good to be prepared for those talks, even if there is no correct way to do it.

Fortunately I  have never had this experience, but if others reading this have had this happen, please share in the comments.

Love, Hannah

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Have a question for me?  Oh yes you do.  Ask me here!

Ask Hannah!

I like to crossdress and I’m trying to totally come out of the closet but I’m afraid I might lose friends.

It’s easy for me to say that it doesn’t matter what people say or think and that we must live our lives for us, and for no one else.  We can’t wait for the world to accept us and to tell us that it’s okay for us to be who we are, whether we identify as transgender or as a crossdresser.

I have no problem ignoring the stares or shrugging off any potential comments from people at a crowded mall.  But coming out does have consequences.  We never know what people will say or how they will react and the uncertainty makes it really difficult to come out to someone else.  We know that coming out is risking losing a friend or ending a marriage.  It’s understandable when we decide to not chance it when the stakes are that high.

But we know how hard it is to keep this side of us from others.  We want to come out for different reasons.  Some of us are just tired of keeping secrets.  Some of us want to share this wonderful part of us.  Some of us need a friend to talk to about this.  I understand.  I’ve been there.  I’m still there, too.  There have been times when I have almost come out to more of my friends.  I remember being out to dinner and thinking that maybe it was time to come out to one of my oldest friends.  He is a good person, a champion for the community, and I trust him more than most people in my life.  But the nagging feeling of uncertainty held me back.  It would have likely gone well, but I also knew that there was the smallest chance it might not.

It wasn’t worth it.  I am out to enough people in my life where I feel I have a support system when I need it.  But for some of us don’t have anyone and that support system has to start somewhere.  Some of us feel the need to come out to everyone in their lives and that this part of us burns so bright that we need to share it with every person we know.  For others, coming out to one or two people is enough.

I wish I could tell you the right words to say.  I wish I knew how to get people to understand who we are and why we are.  It would make writing that book that much easier.  But everyone you come out to is different, everyone will have different reactions, and every relationship is different.  Some reactions will go better than you could have dreamed, some will turn your life into a living hell.

I know.  I know that’s not very encouraging.  When we come out to someone, we are trusting that person to keep this a secret.  This is a huge thing to ask.  This is not something that most people expect to be told by someone else.  It’s something that some people need to process and talk through with someone else.  It’s not uncommon for someone needing someone to talk to when their brother, husband, boyfriend or whoever comes out to them.

This can go badly.  I know I am not being very reassuring.  I don’t know how to come out to someone, but I do know what we need to be thinking about and what we need to prepare for.  Before you come out to someone, there are a few things I would advise you on.

-Know yourself.  How do you identify?  Is this just about dressing up?  Do you identify as transgender?  What does being transgender mean to you?

-Be prepared to answer questions about your sexuality.  Yes, I know that this doesn’t really have to do with that, but you’ll likely be asked.

-Think about why you want to come to out to that particular person.  I have come out to different people for different reasons.  I came out to my brother because I felt it wasn’t fair for my sisters to know but he didn’t.  I also thought it was good for them to have someone to talk to if they had feelings about this.  When I came out to my sisters they asked why I was telling them.  I was simply tired of keeping this from them.  This is a huge part of me.  I thought by being more open with who I am it would strengthen our relationships.

-Pace yourself.  If you want to come out to multiple people it might be best to tell one person and then hold off for a bit.  See how it feels.  If it goes well, wonderful.  When that happens it’s encouraging and we usually want to tell someone else as soon as we can.  It’s easy to get caught up in coming out, but we need to think things through before we do it.  Remember the pink fog?

Will people look at you and think of you differently?  Yes.  Yes they will.  That’s the reality.  But how they do that is impossible to predict.  They may be weirded out, they may value your honesty.  They may never speak with you again.

Again, I wish I could be more positive.  Coming out to someone can be the best thing you ever do, but its naive to think that it will always go well.

Gosh, I am just a ray of sunshine with this, aren’t I?

If you need help talking about this before you talk to others, I would absolutely encourage you to find a therapist that is familiar with topics of gender or one specializes in the LGBTQIA community because, yes, we are part of that.

You can also attend a local PFLAG meeting where experienced counselors are available to help you accept and understand yourself but also help your friends and family.

I hope it goes well.  I wish I could be more helpful.

Love, Hannah

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Have a question for me?  Oh yes you do.  Ask me here!

Minnesota Bans Conversion Therapy

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From Minnesota Public Radio

The Minnesota House has taken a stand against conversion therapy, a practice used to try to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Lawmakers voted 72-53 Thursday to include a statewide ban of the therapy on minors in a larger health and human services bill.

Under the measure, mental health professionals in Minnesota would be prohibited from engaging in conversion therapy with clients under age 18 or with vulnerable adults.

Here are some pictures from the rally held yesterday at the Minnesota capital.   Photos from Outfront MN’s Twitter page.

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Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen!

Love, Hannah

It’s Not Political, It’s Activism

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

-Martin Niemöller

I think about this poem a lot these days.

I believe that keeping us safe is the most important thing we can do.  This takes on many different aspects.  For some of us, this means keeping this part of us secret from our family, our friends, our employer.  Safety also means avoiding danger and harassment as we are out in public.

But on a broader scale, it also means protecting our health, the way the world sees us, and our rights.

Some of you hate it when I discuss what is sometimes perceived as politics.  Every time I write about potential legislation I get comments (which are deleted) and emails (which I ignore) that ask me to stick to posts about high heels and leave the politics to someone else.

I also get emails from t-girls who are afraid to leave the house for fear of being attacked.  I understand and sympathize with you.  I get it.  There are stories every day of someone from our community getting hurt or killed.  We are not understood.  We are demonized.  We are hated.

Public perception of the trans community is something I take very seriously.  I believe that when we strut out of the house we are representing every trans person out there.  The more often we are seen, the more often we can show the world we are just people.  Trying to live our own lives.  In a way, we are speaking up for those who are not ready to leave the house yet.  I am thankful for the generation that came before me.  At the risk of their safety they made the world a little safer for my generation.

But when we are labeled burdens and problematic by the president, it reverses all the good that we are trying to do.  This fear-mongering of our community creates hatred towards us and redefines us in an inaccurate and offensive light.  The president’s ban on transgender individuals in the military was created because of his insistence that we are a financial strain on the government and portrayed our community as people who all want to get surgeries and hormones.

We all know that not all trans-identifed individuals want, or need, that.

Being painted as a burden creates misunderstanding and prejudice against us.  This creates hostility toward us and emboldens those who already hate us.

The military ban is in effect and is a blow to our community whether or not you served our country.  Serving in the military is one less thing we can do because we are portrayed as a burden.  Add that to many states prohibiting us from adopting or being able to use the bathroom that matches our gender identity, we are seeing more and more things a transperson can’t do.  It used to seem far-fetched but I can see malls banning the transcommunity because of the financial impact we cause by stores needing to have an additional unisex bathroom.

There are two things our community needs to be aware, and afraid of, from this week.

From The Hill:

Trump poised to roll back transgender health protections

A proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expected in the coming days would make it easier for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to deny care or coverage to transgender patients, as well as women who have had abortions.

The proposal in question is likely to be a reworking of an anti-discrimination section of ObamaCare.  

The worry: Advocates fear the administration will eliminate the gains made in ensuring transgender people have equal access to care. Coming on the heels of the military transgender ban, there are fears the administration could go even further and use the proposal as an opportunity to narrow the definition of gender.

From NPR

Supreme Court Will Hear Cases On LGBTQ Discrimination Protections For Employees

The Supreme Court has accepted three cases that ask whether federal anti-discrimination laws should apply to sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace, putting the court on track to consider high-profile LGBTQ issues after its next term begins this fall.

…Depending on how they are decided, the cases could be seen as either continuing a move toward greater rights and protections for LGBTQ people in the U.S. or representing a shift in momentum, four years after the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

You may be wondering that this has to do with you.  If you are not out or living full-time, you might think this doesn’t apply to you.

Well, for starters anything that impacts anyone who is transgender impacts all of us.  If you are a closeted crossdresser and hate how the world doesn’t understand or accept you, laws like this won’t help the public’s perception of you.  These laws will allow discrimination against our community.

Many of us fear we will be caught or outed.  I get that.  If you don’t identify as trans and just enjoying wearing panties, you are still at risk of getting fired.  Do you think your Human Resources understands (or cares) that you are a crossdresser, not transgender?

To paraphrase Niemöller’s poem, they are coming for the transgender community and we must all speak out.

We can speak out by voting.  Whether you vote for someone or vote against someone.  There are things we can do.  Things we must do.

Elections matter, elections have consequences.  Republican presidents nominate conservative judges.  Republican members of congress pass conservative laws.  These are things that do not help our community.

We’re all in this together.

Love, Hannah