I have hosted parties and organized gatherings in my male life. I am not a particularly a social person, so for occasions like these I tend to details such as making sure there is enough food and cleaning up. I try to busy myself and keep moving. I try to stay out of the way.
It’s not that I don’t like people. I know and I am related to amazing and wonderful people that I love very much. But in my male like I am usually very goal orientated and I get a lot of satisfaction out of work. I like to clean up after a party. I like when all the laundry is done, folded, and put away. I like to start things, and I like to finish things.
As I got to know Hannah, I was very surprised at how different she was from the male side of me. I “met” Hannah at the same time and at the same pace as my wife got to know her. Letting another gender identity and gender presentation come to the surface is an experience like no other. You feel a wide range of emotions. These emotions are usually triggered by what you may be wearing. For a very long time you were all wingtips and work boots. Neckties and facial hair. Now you could be wearing anything from a long blonde wig, to red press-on nails, to a little black dress or your first pair of pumps. You feel apprehensive, self-conscious, nervous, and a little afraid. You also feel beautiful. And happy. And calm. And…well, it feels right.
There’s no question that what you wear will likely affect your attitude. Some cis-women feel silly wearing a dress, some cis-men feel stupid in a tuxedo. But on the flip side, a bright pink dress or a three-piece suit can bring out a sense of confidence and power out of someone.
The first time, or the hundredth time, you have crossed over to a whole new wardrobe will bring out a new, or a suppressed, or a surprising side of you. For decades this side of me was a secret. Yes, I came out to two girlfriends in the past, but that was more about underdressing. One didn’t want to talk about it and the other was really accepting. But I identified as a crossdresser at that time. Panties and nighties were really all I wanted to wear. There wasn’t much to talk about, it was what it was.
I came out to my wife as a crossdresser a few months after we dated. Once the first few days after the revelation passed, we didn’t talk about it much. But once I stepped into the next level, we talked about it all the time. We talked about it when I wasn’t dressed as well as when I was dressed. For something that we keep a secret and at the same time desperate to share with someone else, it is usually hard to talk about this part of us.
However, Hannah had no problem opening up. Sitting in our living room, me dressed in everything from mascara to sky-high heels and sharing a bottle of wine, I had no problem talking about…everything. How did I feel? AMAZING. But a little self-conscious. I felt beautiful but at the same time I felt a little let down that I didn’t look like Sandra Bullock or Dita Von Teese.
I felt vulnerable but comfortable about my feelings. I felt exposed. I mean, here I was wearing a beautiful little black dress and lipstick, presenting a side of me that was a hidden secret that was shoved to the back of a closet for years and years. And here I was…I was OUT.
When people see your hand, you have to play it.
I gave into her. I let how I was feeling win. It sounds pretentious and a little odd, but it was a rebirth or a reincarnation. Just as my wife was getting to know Hannah, I was too. I was confident and beautiful, insecure and awkward. I had amazing insights into gender roles and how I understood how humbling putting on makeup or a dress could be. I wondered how Hannah would fit into my life.
My wife wondered the same thing.
Those first few months my wife and I learned that Hannah was chatty, relaxed, a bit of a gossip and a Taylor Swift fan. Hannah brought out parts of my male personality that were there but took a little coaxing, a little wine, and a little eyeliner to bring out. Hannah was “me” with my guard down.
Hannah was chatty and social at home, she wasn’t always thinking about work or what needed to be around the house. I was curious, excited, and interested to see who Hannah was in the real world. Me in the real world is a mission of purpose. If I go to the mall it’s because I need something. If I go somewhere, it’s because something needs to be accomplished.
But when Hannah goes to Target, yes, she may need something, but she tends to browse around, look at clothes, and take her time. Interactions with baristas are chattier and friendlier and go beyond simply ordering a cup of coffee. Hannah talks to cashiers, people in line, she smiles at people who stare at her as they process seeing a t-girl.
It’s not that I am unfriendly or rude when I present as male. No, I am someone who does things when they need to be done. I’ll schedule a morning of errands whereas Hannah will happily spend an afternoon simply wandering around a museum.
I am pretty confident in both of my genders, but Hannah has a level that surprises me. I suppose she needs that if she is going to strut through the Mall of America wearing stilettos and a bodycon dress. But that confidence is there online, too. Hannah has no qualms with reaching out to businesses like Glamour Boutique or The Breast Form Store about modeling or product review opportunities. Could I ever do something equivalent in my male life? Could I ever be so bold? I wonder.
Starting the MN T-Girls was probably one of the most significant points in my life. On one hand, it requires the organization that I excel at so well at in my male life. But it takes the confidence that Hannah has when it comes to organizing events. Hannah confidently reaching out to a lingerie store to arrange for a private shopping event is on a level that I have never come close to in my male life.
The MN T-Girls have events that range from going out to dinner to shopping events to holiday parties. The group was started to help other t-girls feel comfortable in going out and part of that means making sure everyone feels welcome. When we open up en femme we all feel vulnerable and guarded, but we will also start to let our defenses down. We have all been there.
At these events Hannah is the hostess. A role I never thought I would have. At the annual holiday party she talks to everyone and tries to make everyone feel welcome. At similar events in male mode I am happy to be more behind the scenes, but Hannah is there in a sequined dress and matching heels shining as bright as a mirror ball. Hannah is on a social level I never dreamed I, in any gender, could ever be.
At first, my two genders were very different from one another, but over time the best parts of Hannah, the ability to talk about my feelings and thoughts, and her social tendencies spilled over to my male life. It’s not inaccurate to say that Hannah brings out the best in me, in both sides of me.
Of course, all of this sounds like a psychologist’s dream. I understand that. We all have different sides to us. We all are a little different in different situations. I am different, in subtle and significant ways, when I am interacting with my work colleagues or having dinner with friends. How I am dressed impacts my behavior in a way, too. I tend to be more serious and reserved in a suit and more relaxed in jeans and a t-shirt.
It’s not that much of a stretch to see how being dressed in heels and a skirt can bring out a side of us that a polo shirt and khakis can’t. Hannah wandering around Sephora with her friends is a different “me” than me trying to find a belt or whatever at Sears.
Although this all may come off as a reason to be examined for having multiple personalities, every t-girl reading this knows exactly what I mean.
What we wear can affect how we feel. How we feel determines how what we do. In any gender. I can’t make it simpler than that.