Ask Hannah!

What are your views about carry letters?

When we present as a gender or have a preferred name and/or pronouns that are different than what our legal documents and drivers license indicate, the idea of getting pulled over or being asked to provide identification becomes a lot scarier.

It’s hard enough to explain who we are to our partners, even if we have hours (or days or months) to discuss, but having an unplanned conversation about gender identity with a police officer on the side of a highway is ever more challenging.  Luckily more cities are being educated about transgender and non-gender conforming people.

A carry letter can help in situations like these.  A carry letter is typically written by a doctor, counselor, or therapist.  They usually state that you are transgender and that you are presenting as a gender that is different than the one you were assigned to at birth.  A carry letter is not uncommon for people who are transitioning and haven’t changed their birth certificate or name yet.

A carry letter is also helpful for those who wish to board an airplane presenting as a gender that is different from the gender on their identification cards.  On a related note, you can also familiarize yourself with the TSA’s policy on transgender passengers.

An example of a carry letter could read something like this:

To whom it may concern:

RE: ___________________________, ______________ ______, ______ This individual is under my care for the diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria which would lead to Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS). As part of the necessary process, ______ is to live the real life experience and dress in the gender to which the assignment will be made. ______is also receiving hormone therapy as part of the procedure, therefore is to be considered _________ and to be treated as _________ in all instances. If you have need for additional information, or to speak to me personally, please contact me.

Sincerely,

___________________________________________________________

Health Care Provider

Personally I think this example is a little outdated as it assumes that a transgender person will be pursuing surgery or hormones, but this should give you an idea what a carry letter typically says.

Like matte or gloss lipstick, a carry letter is an individual choice.  If someone feels a carry letter would be a helpful document to have tucked in their purse, then I see no reason not to have one.

Love, Hannah

______________________________________________________________________________________________

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

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go

If you are looking for a new perspective on life, there’s nothing like walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.

This can also be accomplished by walking through a mall in heels.

It’s quite incredible to visit somewhere en femme that you have been to previously in male mode.  One of the first times I went out during the day was to a coffee shop in Uptown.  Uptown is a neighborhood in south Minneapolis and is considered to be very LGBTQIA friendly.  Over time we are seeing fewer local businesses and more chain stores but the neighborhood still has some of that independent spirit.

This was a coffee shop that I used to go to pretty regularly in male mode.  I would park about two blocks away and then walk there to get my eight dollar coffee.  I did this almost every day for a few years.  Returning as Hannah was a different experience.  For one, I trembled like a leaf in the wind the entire time.  It was a summer day but I shook from my nerves.  I remember thinking that it took a lot longer to walk there in a tight skirt as opposed to the long strides I was used to in male mode.

I walked into the coffee shop, a place I had visited hundreds of time and I immediately looked at it through new eyes.  Did I see anyone I know?  Was anyone looking at me?  Is there anything here I should be cautious of?  Scanning a room when I walked into it was a new experience for me.  Trembling I approached the counter but I noticed how my heels sounded on the floor.  This was something I had never heard before.

The baristas couldn’t been nicer.  They smiled (without any hint of suppressed laughter) and called out Hannah’s name when her coffee was ready.  My hands shook as I took the cup.  I had passed the first trial.  I walked out, braver and more relieved than ever.  My heels clicking against the floor now sounded like music to me.

Emboldened, I went to two malls, Target, a couple more coffee shops, a bookstore and out for lunch.  I was giddy from nerves, excitement and caffeine.  The world had never looked more beautiful.  People stared but no one laughed or smiled cruelly.  My first real adventure was a success and I returned home safely and smiling.

I felt I had conquered the world.  I did conquer the world.

Before my epic journey, I searched online for places to go.  I was afraid to shop somewhere where I would be laughed at or turned away.  I wanted somewhere welcoming to a girl like me.  So, I googled things like “crossdresser friendly places” and…came up with virtually nothing.

Looking back it’s not surprising that I didn’t find anything.  Very few businesses will go out of their way to specifically state that a particular segment of the population is welcome.  It’s not much different than a business stating that all left-handed customers are welcome to their store.

I get a lot of emails asking where a girl like us can go to eat and to shop and, you know, exist.  We search online but come up with nothing.  It’s true that there are businesses out there that carry products specifically and almost exclusively for our community.  Glamour Boutique and Janet’s Closet both have retail stores and advertise themselves specifically to girls like us but if a girl like us wants to get a cup of coffee, dine out, spend the day at the museum or the mall we want to find somewhere we are welcome.

Or at the very least not be mocked, humiliated or turned away.

So, how do we do know where to go?

There’s a few things we can do.  Instead of googling using the term ‘crossdresser friendly’ we can expand it to ‘LGBTQIA friendly’.  That long acronym covers us.  Even by expanding our search to that, we may not find much.  You can modify your search to “LGBTQIA + (city name)” and you will usually find a list not unlike a travel guide to the city you enter.  When I search ‘Minneapolis LGBTQIA’ one of the first results is a website that lists various bars, restaurants, stores and events that are friendly, or at least of interest to the queer community.

We can also be be mindful of different organizations and their stance on social issues.  I shop at Target in both genders and I will continue to do so.  I find Target is more progressive than most retailers.  In 2016 they received a lot of media attention for their bathroom and changing room policy which, according to their website:

In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways. Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.

Oh, people were mad.  Boycotts were threatened but Target never backed down.  It says a lot about their company culture and values and I will gladly shop there.  Activism is something many corporations do and take a stand on these days.  Pay attention to what they do and how they donate their money.

On the flip-side, there are organizations that I will never support in either gender.  I used to shop at Victoria’s Secret and was disappointed by comments from one of their CEOS regarding the transcommunity.  I was even more disappointed by how they reacted to the controversy.  A weakly worded statement but no action.  If they were truly regretful of these words they could have donated money to an LGBTQIA charity, they could have fired the person who said these things, they could have implemented diversity and inclusivity training across the organization.  Their inaction speaks volumes.  I do my shopping elsewhere these days.

A lot of people would prefer that they didn’t know about the political or charitable donations of an organization as supporting that business may be in conflict with their core beliefs.  I vowed years ago to never go to Chick-fil-A after learning about what they do with their profits.

According to Vox:

The Chick-fil-A Foundation donated more than $1.8 million to three groups with a history of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in 2017, according to recently released tax filings analyzed by ThinkProgress. That year, Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm gave $1,653,416 to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a religious organization that requires its employees to refrain from “homosexual acts”; $150,000 to the Salvation Army, which has been accused of anti-LGBTQ discrimination and advocacy for years and whose media relations director once claimed gay people “deserve death”; and $6,000 to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Christian residential home that teaches young boys that same-sex marriage is a “rage against Jesus Christ and His values.”

So, not very friendly to our community.  I like knowing information like this because I absolutely believe this is a reflection of their company culture.  When I bring this to someone’s attention it’s not uncommon for them to shrug this off and continue to dine there.  Some people have core values until it is in contrast with what they want.  It reminds me of a Bob Dylan lyric:

people don’t do what they believe in,

they just do what’s most convenient,

then they repent

I think about this every time I drive past one of their restaurants and I imagine you will too.  Hopefully you keep driving by as well.  I sincerely believe if we want to find more “crossdresser friendly businesses” we need to stop supporting organizations that aren’t.

A guide I find helpful is if a business has an ‘All Are Welcome Here’ sign on their door or window.  That’s about a good of an indicator one will get.  It’s not uncommon to see this image on a company’s website these days.  An all-gender bathroom is also an encouraging sign.

Another thing to keep in mind is that every single business is staffed and run by people.  Company core beliefs and policy aside, not everyone you interact with is going to be happy to see you.  I don’t know of a single organization that specifically tells their employees to be mean to the transcommunity, but that doesn’t mean they won’t.  You can go to the queer-friendliest place on the planet, but if the cashier is having a bad day, or they hate everyone, or, let’s face it, they specifically hate transpeople, you’ll not have a pleasant experience.

The MN T-Girls have done a lot of private shopping events and I am always appreciative of the kindness of the salespeople who volunteer to stay after hours to help our group pick out everything from lingerie to foundation.  I am thankful that companies are willing to pay their staff to work these events for our group.  Again, this says a lot about their core beliefs.  These events are also a little nerve-wracking because as supportive as a company is about our community, they also want to make a little money.  I keep my fingers crossed that when the T-Girls have a private shopping event that we spend enough to make it worth it for them.  Time after time these events are more financially success for them than they expected and we are invited to come back for another event any time we want.

I love hearing that.  I think it sends a message to retailers that when there are salesclerks out there that understand and respect us that it can be profitable.  Of course, if they are only doing that to make money and lack any sincerity in supporting our community then that’s a different story.

I know that this isn’t easy.  I would love to be able to list a hundred places in every major city that would be tickled pink to see us, but it’s just not realistic.  Being who we are requires us to stop waiting for the world to love and accept us.  It will never be okay.   We can’t wait to go shopping or dine out until the world loves us.  That day will not come.  Instead we need to shake it off, put on our big girl panties and hit the mall.  If a cashier is rude to us or a server stifles a snicker, then leave.  Never return.  Send an email to their corporate headquarters.  Or don’t.  Take your money and business and time elsewhere.  Life is too short and too beautiful for us to be treated rudely.

 

Ask Hannah!

How long did it take you to learn how to do your makeup? My second question is do you tuck your male parts? What do you recommend i use to tuck my male parts? Do you use silicone breast forms in your bra? What do silicone breast forms cost? Where do I buy silicone breast forms? Do you wear a slip under your dresses and skirts? Do you wear pantyhose? Do you wear a girdle? How do I learn to walk in stilettos and high heels? How do I learn to move as feminine as a real woman? Do you have a feminine voice? How do I feminize my voice? How often do you shave your facial and body hair? And finally how often do you feminize your eyebrows? And I am also wondering how you take your coffee black or cream and sugar or just cream or just sugar? And what size shoes do you wear in women’s shoes?  What is your favorite coffee shop? Do you or have you ever smoked cigarettes?

Okay, let’s jump in.  Round two..?

How long did it take you to learn how to do your makeup?

Makeup takes a lot of practice, mistakes, and money.  It took me about three months to be able to do a decent job and it’s something you’ll get better at the more you do it.  Don’t get discouraged.  Booking a makeup lesson is probably one of the best investments you can make.  You’ll probably never stop learning new techniques.  Just the other day I learned something new regarding eyeshadow.

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My second question is do you tuck your male parts? What do you recommend i use to tuck my male parts?

I am afraid I cannot advise you on this.  I’m sure you can Google this with…varying results.

Do you use silicone breast forms in your bra?

Yes.

What do silicone breast forms cost?

Quality forms can cost anywhere from $100 to $700.  I’m sure you can get them cheaper, but notice I used the word “quality”.

Where do I buy silicone breast forms?

I get my forms at The Breast Form Store.

Do you wear a slip under your dresses and skirts?

No.

Do you wear pantyhose?

Yes.

Do you wear a girdle?

No.

How do I learn to walk in stilettos and high heels?

Slowly.  Start with a kitten heel (one or two inches) before the six inch stilettos.  Heel to do, glide a little, keep your leg straight, shift your weight and practice practice practice.

How do I learn to move as feminine as a real woman?

There is no standard as to how a woman is supposed to move

Do you have a feminine voice? How do I feminize my voice?

…or sound like.

How often do you shave your facial and body hair?

Each week, typically the night before I go out, if I am going out that week.

And finally how often do you feminize your eyebrows?

I don’t look at it as feminizing my eyebrows.  Again, there is no standard as to how a woman should look or dress or speak or move or style their eyebrows.  Yes, they may look more feminine but I think they also look better when I present as either of my genders.  I do get them threaded about every three weeks.

And I am also wondering how you take your coffee black or cream and sugar or just cream or just sugar?

Cream, no sugar.

And what size shoes do you wear in women’s shoes?

Depending on the shoe, it can be anywhere between an 11 to a 12.

What is your favorite coffee shop?

I used to love going to the Blue Moon Cafe and Cafe Southside, both were in Minneapolis and sadly they are both closed.

Do you or have you ever smoked cigarettes?

No and no.

Whew!  😉

Love, Hannah

______________________________________________________________________________________________

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

Makeup Shopping with Drag Queens and Other Things to do on the Weekend

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Flip-Phone organizes different drag-themed events all around the Twin Cities.  They host drag brunches every Saturday at Union in downtown Minneapolis as well as various pop-up parties.  Previous events have included drag story hour at different libraries and future drag themed brunches including homages to Prince and Whitney Houston.

Flip-Phone and Rosedale Mall recently created some controversy when they announced an event on May 19th that is aimed to be a family friendly event which will include stars from Rupaul’s Drag Race, local celebrities and shopping.

According to City Pages:

(Flip-Phone director Chad) Kampe’s seen this kind of thing before. Last year, he helped the St. Paul Public Library system put on its first drag story times, with glitzy queens reading books to kids. The same kinds of sentiments began to pile up online. They claimed drag was inherently sexual or kinky or “inappropriate,” and that it was going to indoctrinate ruin kids.

For the record, it didn’t. In fact, it was standing room only, the library’s most successful event of the year.

Kampe soon discovered these new comments seemed to have a central instigator: a Facebook group called Child Protection League Action. It calls itself a “nonprofit organization that works to protect children from exploitation, indoctrination, and violence” by “mobilizing the public.”

Earlier this week, the League posted about the Rosedale Center drag show. It accused the mall of “normalizing degrading sexual costuming and performances that are found at gay bar scenes,” as well as “targeting” kids. It urged followers to contact mall management and businesses. 

Kampe says the event is kid-friendly, featuring Top 40 songs, with no scanty costumes or raunchy humor. In other words, it will be more child friendly than “walking past a Victoria’s Secret store.”

I wanted to bring some attention to this as it does affect our community.  I know some of us go to great lengths to explain to others that what who we are and what we do is not drag.  However, I think it’s important that we stand by our sisters who are also outside the gender binary.

You can stay up to date with future Flip-Phone events here and here.

Love, Hannah

Coloring Outside the Lines

I have FABULOUS eyebrows.

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Yes, I love how I look.  Yes, I know it gets annoying.  But I work hard to have the body that I have.  Are there parts I wish I could change?  Sure, but as I get older I find it harder to think of what those changes could be.  Ten years ago I would have loved to be eight inches shorter, my shoulders less broad and my hands smaller but I don’t believe in passing and I am beautiful no matter how tall I am.  (I do wish I could wear a smaller shoe size so I could expand my heels collection, but you can’t win them all.)

I take care of my skin, I moisturize, and I exfoliate.  I do this because my skin is, well, skin is important.  A good makeover starts with good skin.  You need to take care of your skin at all times, not just the day of a makeover.  Your dentist knows if you just start flossing two days before your check-up.  Your makeup artist knows when you started to exfoliate.

Corrie Dubay of Femme Makeovers has written about skin care in her newsletter and she has kindly given permission to reprint her writings.  You can (and should) read them here.

Many men regard skin care as a “girl” thing.  Now, I have noticed that many men also have skin so the idea that taking care of your skin is something that only women do is kind of baffling to me.  Like leggings, clean and healthy skin that is well taken care of feels amazing and, like leggings, is something too many men won’t ever experience.

Taking care of my skin is something that both of my genders benefit from.  It helps with shaving and ingrown hairs and makes it easier to apply foundation.

There may be things that many of us want to do with our skin, our bodies, and our wardrobe that we are hesitant to do because it might leave, well, let’s call it evidence, of our femme side.  Skin care is not one of those things, however.  I don’t think anyone looks at my pores and thinks that I have beautiful dresses in my closet because I take care of my skin.

I also don’t care most people think.  It’s easy to not care what others think when you don’t actually know what others think.

Accepting yourself goes hand in hand with giving no regard to what others might think about you.  But for those of us in relationships our partners and their feelings are important and must be taken into consideration.  You might not care if anyone notices leftover traces of your bright red nails while you are in male mode, but your wife might not be comfortable with that.

In male mode I never really liked my eyebrows.  They were thick, bushy and curly and were growing closer with each passing year.  But I never really noticed them until I started wearing makeup and realized at how much they stood out.  Do you need to have pencil-thin eyebrows to be a woman?  To be beautiful?  Of course not.  There are no expectations or standards one must meet to identify as female.  Eyebrows are also one of those things that have trends that come and go pretty frequently.  My eyebrows might be stylish today but might be soooooo 2018 in a couple of days.

I like to keep my eyebrows well-maintained.  It drives me crazy when they look unruly as the stray hairs start to grow back.  There’s really no getting around the fact that if you do start to shape, thin and/or arch your brows they will look more feminine which is exactly the effect some of us are going for.  I get my brows threaded (google or youtube it), but you can also have them waxed.  If you decide to have a professional groom your brows, tell them what you want.  When I get my brows done, I ask the technician to clean them up, but I can also ask them to define them, shape them and thin them…either by a little or by a lot.  They are professionals, and trust me, you won’t be the first man to ask for a little definition in your brows.

However, the truth is that most men do not groom and trim their eyebrows, so it’s quite likely yours will be noticed when in male mode…but it is not very likely that anyone will say anything.  How often do you discuss someone’s eyebrows with them?

Has anyone ever mentioned my eyebrows to me?  Yes.  When I am getting makeovers the artist will often tell me that I have fabulous brows.  Has anyone commented on them while presenting in male mode?  Yes, but only from girls.  Girls notice things.  Girls appreciate a good brow.  If the girl at Starbucks notices them, you can bet your wife’s sister does too, however.  More on that later.

I know, the idea of shaping your brows can give you the look you want in girl mode, but it also will change your appearance in male mode.  Will people notice?  The short answer is probably.  They might.  Will people care?  Maybe?  But why would they?  I don’t care what your brows look like.  I care about mine, no one else’s.  I suspect you are the same.  Will they say something? Probably not.  How many times in your life have you come up to someone and said something about their eyebrows?

The point is that people might notice, they might care, but you’ll probably never know what they think.  It’s highly unlikely they’ll say something and I doubt many of us ask others about their opinions on our eyebrows.

So, pluck, wax, and thread away.  If you want.  You don’t have to do anything extreme.  You don’t have to do anything at all.  A simple and subtle arch and grooming can make a lot of difference.  Corrie also has written about eyebrow options here.

In addition to me loving my brows, I also have legs for days.

 

I promise all of this will come together.

I love my legs.  I work hard to have the legs that I have.  I am very tall and although I was initially bothered at how my height prevented me from blending in better, I realized that having long legs is worth it.  I like keeping my legs in shape and three hours a week on the Stairmaster at the gym helps me do that.

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I’ve been shaving my legs for years now and it’s hard for me to remember having hairy legs.  I remember the first time I shaved them, however.  It was AMAZING.  Pro tip: if you do start shaving your legs you may want to give them a quick run with a pair of electric clippers first.

At first I was nervous about having smooth legs (and eventually arms) and was worried about what people would think and say.  But no one said anything.  I don’t know what people think because I don’t ask them what they think.  Notice a pattern?  Shaving my legs, like my fabulous eyebrows, are not a typical conversation topic.  People usually have more to worry about than my grooming routine, or at least I hope they do.

But shaving your legs and arms and arching your brows are not things guys typically do.  It’s naive to think no one will notice.  It’s not likely anyone will say anything, though.  The first time you talk to someone after having your eyebrows waxed you will probably feel as if everyone is staring at you.  They might be.  They might be looking at your face and realizing something has changed but they are not sure what.  Or they know but are processing it.  They may say something, but in my experience they probably won’t.

And if they do?  If someone says to me that I have great eyebrows I tell them thank you.  99% of the time the conversation stops there.  What else is there to say?  If someone asks me if I shave my legs I tell them I bike a lot.  Which is true.  It helps with keeping my legs looking shapely.   But no one asks.  I don’t think people think twice about it.

You are under no obligation to explain or apologize to anyone… unless you have a partner.  Want to shave your legs?  Sure, it’s your body, but we need to keep our partner’s feelings in consideration.  We will likely feel a little paranoid that everyone is staring at your newly groomed eyebrows…but your wife is likely feeling just as on edge as you are.

Probably more.

I underdress all the time.  Underdressing is a way to stay connected to that part of me that is beautiful when I am in boy mode.  A cute pair of lacy undies with a pink bow on them is about as femme as you can get when it comes to clothing.  But there are other things that I wear that do not scream GIRL as loud as a pair of panties.

As a boy I am very much a t-shirt and jeans person.  Hannah is very much a heels, stockings, winged eyeliner and a dress to kill kind of girl.  I have boy t-shirts and jeans and I have girl t-shirts and jeans.  Hannah doesn’t wear the girl tees and jeans, but I do in male mode.

I feel obligated to reiterate that I do not think that clothes are for boys or girls.  Heels and…uh, football jerseys, I guess, are for all of us.  When I say boy jeans and girl shirts I am referring to what part of the store that you can find these items in.

There’s no question that girl jeans tees are softer.  True, they are cut differently and have like no pockets, but I think they are simply more comfortable to wear.  Same with girl tees.  The necklines are different and the sleeves might be shorter but they do not feel as course as the boy version.

Some cis-women I know get frustrated about the endless options of jeans and shirts.  Want a black t-shirt?  Great!  Target has a zillion options.  Some are the cold-shoulder look, some have mid-length sleeves, some have a mesh overlay on top, some have an open back and require a different bra style with them.  And jeans are not easier.  Skinny, boyfriend, boot length and countless others.

If I need boy clothes it takes about thirty seconds of shopping and I’m done.  It’s easy but it’s also kind of boring.  I love the variety that is available on the other side of the store.  I like girl shirts with a large scoop neck so I can wear a cute cami or tank under it.  I love tees with mid-length sleeves.  But to be fair I am not shopping on that side of the store for any practical reason.  I am not looking for clothes for my everyday wardrobe.  If I lived full-time I would have a different perspective on shopping.

I wear girl jeans on a regular basis, but I do take into consideration what I am doing that day.  Running errands or staying home?  Sure.  Dinner with friends?  Probably not.  Now, I don’t think there are many noticeable differences between my boy jeans and girl jeans… but I might be seeing (or not seeing) what I want (or don’t want) to see.  I don’t get caught up in the pink fog as much as I used to but I recognize that sometimes I tell myself that this pair of jeans or this shirt look less girly than it really does.

Again, I don’t know or care what someone at the mall thinks about my clothes, regardless of what gender I present as.  But I do care that my wife’s friend might notice that my jeans look a little like her jeans.  Again, we need to be considerate of our partner’s feelings.  Someone might not say anything to us, but they might say something to our wife.

Our wives know that someone might notice.  They know someone might say something to them.  Or worse, someone says something behind her back and it becomes gossip.  It’s understandable that she might be terrified of that.  She probably is.  Our partners share the weight of our secret.  It’s not fair to them.  We need to remember that.  We should not take any risks that could potentially embarrass, or worse, our partners.

There are things boys do and there are things boys wear.  There are also things that boys do not do and there are things boys do not wear.  This is silly.  It’s okay to go beyond the typical societal norm and expectations of gender.  Everyone reading this paragraph likely knows that.  We know that it’s okay to color outside the lines, so to speak.  I just wish everyone else knew that, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Wilde Night!

Well, not really a wild night, it was more of a wonderful way to end a long week.

On Thursday our beautiful state was hit with a surprise April blizzard and it made the last few days a bit longer than it really was.  Going out to dinner with the MN T-Girls was the perfect way to finish the week.

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Each month we do something a little different, going to a play, shopping, or makeup demonstrations, but it’s been a few months since we all got dressed up for a nice dinner.  The first time our group went out to dinner was back in 2013 (I think) and we went to Wilde Cafe and Spirits in Minneapolis.  Yesterday we returned there for food, drinks, and girl talk.

Wilde cafe has delicious food, wonderful service and is just a lovely restaurant.  We had a nice night and look forward to returning!

Love, Hannah

Ask Hannah!

Hi Hannah may I ask you a few questions because I am a crossdresser just starting out. Do you dress full time? Why do you crossdress? Do you carry a purse in public? What do you keep in your purse? Do you go out in public dressed to such places as stores restaurants bars and coffee houses? Do you have a wife? Does your wife support your crossdressing? Do you want to become a transgender woman? Who does your makeup? And finally what restroom do you use in public?

That’s…a lot of questions.  Let’s get started!

Do you dress full time?

No.  I underdress full-time, though.

Why do you crossdress?

Any one of us could write a book on why we are who we are.  I write a little about this subject here.

Do you carry a purse in public?

Yes.

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What do you keep in your purse?

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.

Do you go out in public dressed to such places as stores restaurants bars and coffee houses?

Yes.  I don’t drink so bars are not my thing but I have been to everywhere from gas stations to museums to a church to Target.

Do you have a wife?

Yes.  She’s gorgeous.

Does your wife support your crossdressing?

Yes.  Marriage and who are are is a lot of work, requires a lot of patience, understanding, and communication and is not very easy.  I write a lot about relationships here, here, and here.

Do you want to become a transgender woman?

I am transgender.  However, being transgender means something different to everyone.  I have no plans to transition or live full-time, if that’s what you mean.

Who does your makeup?

I do my own makeup but for special occasions and photo shoots I book appointments with Corrie Dubay.

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Photography by Christi Williams

And finally what restroom do you use in public?

If there is a unisex bathroom I use that.  If not I use the restroom for the gender I am presenting as.  Refuge Restrooms is a good app to have on your phone.  According to their site, Refuge Restrooms is a web application that seeks to provide safe restroom access for transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming individuals. Users can search for restrooms by proximity to a search location, add new restroom listings, as well as comment and rate existing listings.

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Whew!  We did it!

Love, Hannah

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

 

The Pink Fog

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It was a very hot weekend.

Over those few days what I remember the most was how hot it was.  It was a Friday night and after a glass or two of wine, I told my girlfriend, the girl I would marry years later, about me.

I danced around the word ‘crossdresser’ because even then I wasn’t comfortable with that word as I didn’t think it was the most accurate label for myself.  But at that point most of what I wore, and what I wanted to wear, was lingerie.  I underdressed and had a lot of beautiful lingerie but it would be a few years before makeup, heels, dresses and wigs worked their way into my wardrobe.

Truthfully it was more than one or two glasses of wine that helped me come out to her.  It was something that consumed me the moment I started falling for her.  I knew that if we dated I would eventually be at a point where I would have to tell her.

A point where I would want to tell her.

I told other girlfriends about me and had a wide range of responses.  But with her, it was different.  I wanted to marry her and be with her for the rest of my life.  I knew I couldn’t change and she needed to know regardless of how it would go.

So, I told her.

We had the expected questions and we talked all throughout that hot weekend.  Like most of our partners she had a difficult time understanding why I loved wearing bras and stockings and, truth be told, I don’t understand it either but after decades of dressing I decided there was no real reason and that I had accepted there wasn’t one.

(We say there is no reason but let’s be honest, there are millions of reasons.  We feel beautiful when we dress, we love the feeling of soft clothing, we love waking up in a nightie, we love the…power that an amazing pair of stilettos gives, we love the hypnotic effect of eyeliner…)

So, yes, there are reasons we love this.

When we need to know more about something, whether it is replacing a fuse or how to contour, we turn to the internet.  After my revelation sunk in, my wife did the same thing and googled ‘crossdresser’.  She was met with a wide array of fetishistic images and stories and tales of secret and deceptive lives.  This did nothing to ease her concerns about me.

But over time, patience and conversation, we got through that, we married and she remains my best friend and the love of my life.

After a couple of year into our marriage we stayed up late talking and the conversation drifted into my dressing.  Had I ever worn makeup?  Ever owned a wig?  Dresses?  I had tried makeup and I had no idea what I was doing.  Beauty Vloggers were not yet a thing and I gave up quickly.  I did purchase a wig once and it was a cheap mess of blackness.  I carefully put it on and imagined I would see Elizabeth Hurley looking back at me in the mirror but… that did not happen.  Into the trash it went.  I did own a few dresses in the past but I not wear them much.  They were harder to hide in my closet as opposed to lingerie so I didn’t own many.

My wife brought out her makeup and I remember the coolness of the liquid foundation on my skin.  I remember her asking me to smile to better apply my blush.  I remember the finishing touch of lipstick.  Elizabeth Hurley was not in the mirror…but I was.  And that was better.  I never would look like her, but I could look like me.

She asked how I felt.  I was happy, I told her.  She smiled and said that she understood.  I just wanted to be beautiful.  It was startling that after decades of trying to make sense of why I dressed she summed it up better than I ever could.

Over the next few weeks she helped pick out my wig and soon dresses were tucked into the back of my closet.  I had purged before we moved in with each other and panties began to appear once more in my dresser.  I was…exhilarated.  She taught me makeup and we had many late nights just staying up and talking.

It sounds too good to be true.  It sounds like a fantasy.  I know I am lucky.  I know that this is not a common outcome when one comes out to their partner.  I don’t do everything right in my life.  I make mistakes, I do this when I should do that.  I am very far from perfect.   I always will be.

I get emails from girls like us asking how to introduce this side of them into their relationships.  I don’t know.  Every one of us is different.  Introducing this side of us to a marriage can mean anything from underdressing to you and your spouse dressing up and hitting the mall together.  Every partner is different and there will be many different reactions to our revelation.  So, no, I don’t know how to introduce this side of you into your marriage.  I don’t know how to “get her to let you do this”.

What I can tell you is this:

Tell them.  Be honest with them.  Tell them before you are committed.  Before you are engaged.  Before you move in with each other.  Before the two of you buy a house or adopt a dog together.

Know yourself.  You are likely going to be asked if you’re attracted to men.  If you want to transition.  If you were born in the wrong body.  If you are unhappy.  If you cannot answer these questions then perhaps you need to do more reflecting before you come out.  The most frightening thing you can tell your partner is that you don’t know if you want to transition.

One more piece of advice.  Don’t laugh these questions off when you are asked.  Don’t dismiss them or trivialize them.  Answer them patiently and truthfully.  When someone is asking you a question, whether it is about gender identity or anything else, it is done in an effort to understand.  Don’t make someone feel bad, or stupid, when they ask a question.

I was honest with her when I came out.  I was honest with her every step of the way.  I still am.  I knew myself well before I came out to her.  I respected her feelings, understood her concerns and listened to her fears.  This much I did right.  I am not perfect.  I am not the perfect spouse or person.  But I came out to her the best way that I could.

The nights my wife and I stay up and talking about…everything are some of my favorite moments of my life.  I am more open and honest and vulnerable than I had ever been.  I was living a dream that I had my entire life…my wife and I having girl talk while I was dressed.  I was happy, I was confident, I was calm.

But it’s easy and normal to make wrong decisions in the early days of coming out.  We are so enraptured with everything happening.  Our wardrobes are expanding, we are getting better at mascara and we can strut in heels better than we could a few weeks ago. If we come out to someone and it goes well, it’s not uncommon to want to come out to someone else.

And now we enter THE PINK FOG.

As I was starting off from underdressing to where I am now, my wife, like most of our partners turned to the internet for some perspective.  Is what we had normal?  Am I in denial?  Is she?  Where is all this heading?  I don’t think it’s uncommon for our partners to be asking themselves what is next for us.  One day it’s high heels, one day it could be hormones.

She came across the term ‘pink fog’ which I had never heard before.  It refers to someone being so…blissful of this side of them that they don’t think things through as much as they should.  Like a fog, this can cloud your perspective and your thinking.  It could mean that we are so in love with a pair of red stilettos that instead of doing something responsible like making a car payment we suddenly own a new pair of heels instead.  Or five pairs of heels.  And a new wig.  And a dress.

This fog can lead to, well, let’s call them lapses of judgment.  We might post a picture online, we might leave the house.  If we have partners that have requested or set boundaries we may cross them.  The fog can be similar to a form of drunkenness.  We might make decisions that we normally would not make when sober or not in the fog.  The fog, like alcohol, does not justify our decisions.  We still made them.

So…don’t drink and dress?

Please know that I am not saying we need to keep this side of ourselves hidden because we should be ashamed about this side of us or that there is something wrong with who we are.  What I am saying is that this is a part of us that needs to be handled and disclosed in a thoughtful, delicate way.

The pink fog can also lead to coming out to others when we haven’t thought it through.  We are so happy with coming out to someone (or even to ourselves) that we want to come out to everyone.  We want to be ourselves with others in our life.  We are tired of keeping secrets.  We want our friends, our siblings, our families to know us.

I understand that.  I can relate.

But this is a BIG DEAL.  You cannot put yourself back in the closet.  There are too many dresses in there for one reason.  You only get one chance to come out to someone and although I don’t know how to come out to someone (besides the two points I made above), I know there are countless ways to do it wrong.

We need to be able to recognize when we are in the fog.  Not only can this help with our shopping and spending but it can help prevent coming out to the wrong person at the wrong moment for the wrong reasons.  We need to remember when we come out to our partners they are now sharing the secret.  We may want to come out our friend, brother, our mailman but our partner might not be ready for that.

I was in the fog plenty of times, and it normally ended with me adding to my wardrobe as opposed to something more serious.  The fog tends to fade as time passes.  Who I am and how I balance a life (and a checkbook) between genders becomes more normal and easier as the days go by.

You can find balance in life if you identify as more than one gender.  Like liquid eyeliner on your waterline, it takes practice, time, and usually at the expense of many mistakes.  When you are in the fog, if you feel you are acting on impulse and the voice in your head says not to do that ever you are about to do, then full stop.  Exhale.  Put the credit card down, don’t click ‘submit’ if you are about to post a photo online, wait a day before sending that email.

I want all of us to be happy and to have a healthy relationship with ourselves and the others in our lives.  I know many of us want more than what we have, but make sure you are taking it slow and carefully.

Love, Hannah

 

 

The Equality Act

The National Center for Transgender Equality recently posted a video to their Facebook page in celebration of Trans Visibility Week and the International Transgender Day of Visibility.

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Per the NCTE,

…we gave a trans flag to every member of Congress—every single one of the 100 Senators and 441 House members—and asked them to display the flags this past week.
And over 100 of them did. So many of them filmed videos, tweeted, and otherwise let their constituents and trans communities nationwide know that they will fight to make sure we WON’T BE ERASED.
It’s encouraging to see this support for our community.  This week members of congress will hold hearings on the Equality Act.

The Equality Act prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, credit, education, jury service, federally-funded programs (including health care), and businesses that serve the public. It will also prohibit discrimination against women and girls in public accommodations for the first time in federal law.

Finally, the bill expands the list of protected places of public accommodations to include retail stores, transportation services like airports, taxis and bus stations, and service providers like accountants, for all groups covered.

To do this, The Equality Act would amend several crucial pieces of civil rights legislation — such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 — to clearly prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. This would prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in the same way these laws already prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, and national origin.

Read more about this significant piece of legislation here.

If you are interested in learning more about the trans flag, I reviewed ‘More Than Just a Flag’ which chronicles the life of the creator Monica F. Helms recently and I highly recommender reading it.

Love, Hannah