Not So Picture Perfect

I don’t believe that passing is something we should consider a realistic goal.  I mean, my core belief is that there is no such thing and every girl, cis or trans, is beautiful and looks different and unique from everyone else.  There are no standards that we must meet in order to be a girl.  Passing is a myth and it’s something that too many girls wait to do before they start living their best life.  I can totes relate, though.  I thought I was too tall, too male, too… a million other things to leave my house.  I will always be able to identify with a girl that wishes to be beautiful because I thought that way for decades and I still hope that every time I dress.  

Being as public as I am (at least online), I get a ton of comments that range from nice to simply gross.  It’s a lot of fun to wake up and read a DM from some idiot asking to send them a picture.  An intimate picture, if you know what I mean.  Still, it’s better than them sending me a photo along those same lines.  I post a lot of pictures because I like to write about what I am doing, whether it is a photo shoot or meeting up with the MN T-Girls.  Photos generate a lot of comments and most of them are nice and I enjoy reading them.  Honestly the comments are very affirming and it makes me smile when someone thinks I am pretty.  Why?  Because I am trying to be pretty.  I hope I am pretty.  

I write a lot about dealing with the voices inside of us (and sometimes even the voices of others) and our doubts and desires and the expectations we have of ourselves and the expectations we think the rest of the world has of us.  These are not easy to live with and they are not easy to ignore.  Learning how to crossdress is one thing.  I mean, it’s almost a practical skill.  Learn your sizes, learn how to apply makeup, how to walk in heels… these things can be easy.  What makes it hard is looking in the mirror and being happy with what we see.  What makes it hard is looking at other girls and spiraling into despair because we don’t look as beautiful as they do.

Being en femme is the most humbling and amazing thing in the world.  When you are dressed to kill and you are strutting (or floating) out of your makeover appointment, my god, you feel like a million.  But sometimes you catch your reflection and it all comes tumbling down.  I get it.  I can relate.  

When Hannah is out, she is going to do normal, boring things.  A couple of weeks ago I went to the Dollar Store and a coffee shop.  It’s about as mundane as it gets.  It used to be I was only comfortable going to places where girls like us frequented and a girl like me wasn’t out of place.  But there aren’t a lot of girls like us spending their afternoon running errands in heels and a cute dress at the discount store.  My point is that I am really noticed when I am out because I am usually overdressed and well, I am a six foot tall t-girl.  I am noticed because I am a six foot tall t-girl.  I know I am trans (I hope I know this by now) and so does everyone else.  Trust me, everyone knows.

How do I know?  Sometimes the puzzled stares, the look on someone’s face as they process what they see, and sadly, sometimes the mean looks.  How else do I know?  My jawline, my shoulders, my height….  again, there are no standards to be a girl.  But let’s be honest, not a lot of cis-girls have a square jaw like I do.  I am read all the time and that’s fine.  If I couldn’t accept that then I would never leave the house.  

I do read comments about how I do pass, how I look “like a real girl”, and the like.  Thank you.  I am not trying to pass (and I don’t think I do), I am just trying to be pretty and enjoy my day.  No one who sees me in the real world thinks I pass, but photos tell a different story.  When I am doing a photo shoot, either for my own hubris and ego or for modeling, hundreds of photos are taken.  Shannonlee goes through them, adjusts the lighting and cropping and sends over her favorites.  I go through what she sends me and I either post the ones I like or I send over the best pictures to whoever the shoot is for.  

If we take 100 pictures and five turn out good, well, that’s fantastic.  

There’s a lot of factors that contribute to a good picture.  The lighting, the color, the background, how my dress looks (sometimes a wonderful picture can be ruined by a wrinkle or a funny fold), my facial expression, and my pose can all make or break a picture.  Everything has to line up for a good picture, but it only takes one thing to go wrong to spoil it.
Like an artist who only displays their favorite paintings, I only post the pictures I like.  Of the countless pictures of myself on my website or on my Flickr page please know these are my favorites meaning they are the ones that make me look the most feminine.  I don’t post the pictures that, in my opinion, make me look like a man in a dress.  Trust me, there are more photos like this than good ones.  I don’t post pictures at an angle that make me look too boyish.  Most of the photos we take capture me looking very, very male.  I don’t like these pictures (it can really add to my dysphoria) and I don’t post them.  But trust me, if you saw them you would never think I “passed”.  You would see what every cashier and every barista sees when I am out in the real world.

Why am I writing about this?  Because I don’t want to add to your dysphoria.  I know how… defeating it can be to look at a pretty t-girl and just want to give up.  I am not saying that I am pretty but I think I can take a decent photo from time to time.  What you see when I post pictures isn’t reality.  It’s not how I look at all times when I am en femme, it’s just a quick picture where I was lucky to not look tooooo masculine.  Sometimes I see myself in a mirror or my reflection in a window or in a selfie and it’s like….ugh.  I have to keep taking photos or looking at my reflection at different angles until I think I look cute enough to move on or until I give up.

I want to be clear that I am not being too hard on myself or fishing for compliments or looking for reassurance.  I know a lot of my photos are cute, but I have ten pictures for every cute one that looks like a man in a dress.  If I was brave, or masochistic enough I would post one but I just can’t do it.  

Dysphoria kicks in when I see some of the t-girls I admire.  If you feel that way when you see my pictures, please know that I got lucky in the photo and I can and do look like a troll many times.  It’s all about the angle, the dress, the lighting, and a zillion other things.  

Love, Hannah

Ask Hannah!

I recently came across your site and am glad I did! I’m wondering where you have gone locally for makeovers, or do you do all of your own makeup/dressing? I’ve tried to separate places in Las Vegas with mixed results. One was really expensive, and didn’t deliver all that they claimed, but the showgirl outfit was fun! The other was less expensive but not very organized.

Wondering if you know of anywhere local or even in the surrounding states.

Thank you so much for your blog!

I can do my own makeup and I have a zillion dresses, but I usually will have my makeup done when I go out, especially if it’s for a photo shoot.

There are a lot of places to get makeovers in the Twin Cities.  My go-to places are Rita Ambourne and CaJah Salon

Cajah Salon

Rita Ambourne

Of course, places like MAC, Ulta, and Sephora also are an option for girls and girls like us.

Love, Hannah

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

Identity and Responsibility

I was out for a run the other day and usually a run allows me to lose myself in my thoughts and to let my mind wander.  Being outside, getting exercise, is a great way to gain some perspective.  It helps me work out problems and occasionally have a brilliant, random idea.  On this particular run I thought to myself “we need to take responsibility for our gender identity”.  And I was like yes!  We do!  And then I thought “what in the world does that mean?”

As my run continued, I started to break down this thought.  My core belief is that this is who we are, we can’t change that.  Call it nature, call it being born this way, we are who we are.  We do not have a choice.   The choice lies in how we respond to who we are.  We can deny it (good luck), we can ignore it, we can accept it, we can embrace it.  And we can act on it.  Or not.  

Our choice also lies in how we respond to those around us.  When en femme I get a lot of looks.  That’s not to say people are just fawning over me and they’re like OMG look at the pretty girl.  No.  Most of the looks are people seeing me and processing me.  It’s not common to see a girl as tall as me, so I am given a second look.  Not every girl is wearing heels and a beautiful dress at the store, so I am a little out of place.  And of course, I am trans and there’s really not enough of us (but more than you think) where we are so common that we kind of blend in and are unremarkable.  I am aware of the impact I have on people.  That is not to say that I am enchanting everyone around me and everyone thinks I am beautiful or whatever.  No.  I am fully aware that I am a t-girl, I am wearing a cute outfit, heels, amazing eyeliner, and regardless of if someone thinks I am attractive or not, I am noticed and I am likely causing some sort of reaction.  Reactions can include anything from “cute dress!” to “hey, a transgirl, cool” to “this chick is in my way” to “goddamn tranny”.  

Regardless of the gender I present as, I take responsibility for everything I do.  If I make a mistake at work, I own up to it.  If I am too sarcastic and hurt someone’s feelings, I apologize.  If Hannah makes you feel uncomfortable well, too bad.  I don’t care.  Get over it.  BUT!  I am aware that gender identity can be a complicated discussion and something some parents want to have with their children when it’s the right time and when both parent and child are ready to have the conversation.  In my experience if I see a kid with a parent they will usually stare at me as they are processing what they see.  Someone who is pretty clearly masculine wearing a pretty dress.  I fully accept (and expect) that they may wonder, often out loud, why that man is wearing a dress.  This is probably not a conversation many parents want to have while they are out running errands, even if the parents are extremely accepting and supportive of the trans community.  So, because of this, I become hyperaware when I am out in public and there a lot of kids around.  I don’t feel I am damaging them, but I feel I am presenting a perspective on gender that is likely outside of the experience they have had up until now.

This, I feel, is taking responsibility for my gender identity.

But for grown-ups, I really, really don’t care if I challenge your opinion and perspective and concept of gender.  Grow the hell up.  Let others live their best life.  I don’t care what you think or feel.  Lalalalala I can’t hear you.

BUT!  It’s different for our family.  My racist, homophobic uncles do not know about me, and they never will.  But if they did, they would HATE me.  And I wouldn’t care.  Really, that’s their problem.  I haven’t spoken to most of my extended family in decades anyway, so why would I care what they think?  Especially when it comes to something like gender identity?  Really, if you are transphobic or homophobic, that is 100% on you.  I am not going to change your mind and I am not going to spend any energy trying to do so.  I don’t know how to explain to someone why gender identity or sexual preference are not things to judge someone by.  
BUT!  Extended family is one thing, our siblings, parents, and especially our significant others, are another.  My relationship with my mom has always been complicated and has rarely been easy.  It’s gotten better as we have both gotten older, but i have accepted that she and Hannah will never go out for coffee.  Accepting this is one thing, but I still hope for it.  My mom’s opinion on one’s gender identity impacts me a little more.  I love my mom, and her perspective on me, my gender, my choices, my life hits differently than my racist uncle.  Who I am is important to me, and when people I love and care about have an opinion and perspective that differs from me about something as important as gender identity, well, it hurts, to be honest.  

When I came out to my mom I knew this would have a huge impact on her.  I didn’t know how it would go and I was nervous as to what our relationship would be like going forward.  Let’s be real, most relationships can be divided between Before Coming Out and After Coming Out.  I didn’t think she would disown me or anything, my mom is very liberal, my older brother is gay (not that being trans and gay at the same thing but there is some non-cis/non-hetereo precedent in our family).  I came out to my mom on a Saturday night.  The next day was a family gathering.  The coming out conversation was planned this way on purpose.  I wanted to open up to her in a way I never did before, and I wanted a family gathering the next day, just to re-establish a little more normality in her life and our dynamic and to kind of show her that although I was who I was, I was still who I’ve always been.  

Of course, our talk the night before was all that she could think about.  It was still sinking in.  Even after all this time it’s probably still sinking in.

A few years ago my mom properly met Hannah.  At the mall, of course.  This, however, was not planned.  Having a talk is one thing, seeing your son in a cute (well, I think it’s cute) pink dress, stilettos and makeup is another.  I reopened the conversation completely unintentionally.  Honestly I felt bad about that day.  I knew she didn’t understand or even want to talk about this side of me, and then here I am 10000% en femme at JCPenney (hey they have cute dresses once in a while). 

This had an impact on her in a different, more intense way than the chat we had at her dining room table a few years prior.  Although my gender identity is mine and personal and is really no one’s business but my own, I was, and will always be, aware of how who I am can affect the people I love.  I can’t, and won’t change who I am, but I certainly know how this side of me makes someone feel.

The most serious and sacred relationship one can have in their lives is the one they have with their spouse or significant other.  You dedicated yourself to each other, you made a commitment.  You invested your time, money, and energy to your relationship.  Perhaps you have children, or own a home, or a business.  You go through life’s challenges and successes and failures with each other.  Everything either one of you does has an impact on the other.  You owe it to them to consult with them on most of the decisions you will make in life.  As your life goes on, individually as well as together, things change.  Your children grow up, you change careers… and it’s possible your gender identity evolves as well.  When things change you have an obligation to have honest and productive conversations with your partner.  
They may not understand, they may not accept, they may not like this part of you, but your gender identity will have a significant impact on your relationship and on your partner.  It’s hard to come out.  It’s so scary but I believe if this side of you affects you significantly then you probably should have the talk with them.  And yes, it’s hard to go into a conversation where you don’t know the outcome will be.  I get it, I promise I do.  

As we keep our gender identity bottled up, the desire, our feelings only grow stronger.  They may get to the point where we don’t care about anyone’s opinion about who we are.  And that isn’t a bad thing.  When I stopped caring about complete strangers might think about me it gave me the freedom to dress to the nines and go everywhere from the gas station to the theater to Pride.  But we can’t think that way about our spouse.  You may be at the point where you are willing to risk it all because you need to acknowledge who you are, you may be at the point where you don’t care what anyone thinks.  You may be at a point where you feel if others have a problem with this, well, that’s their problem.

And yes, you are not wrong….

But you can’t think that this is only your partner’s problem.  You don’t have the luxury to not care what your wife, your significant other, thinks about your gender identity.  

When you start to acknowledge your gender identity has changed since you have gotten married or made a commitment to someone this isn’t “their problem”.  You HAVE to care.  This is now something the two of you need to work through and work out.  

Who we are is sacred.  It is important we are honest with ourselves.  It’s important we are honest with our partners.  We made a commitment to them and yes, relationships change and sometimes they get to a point where two people are no longer happy, or in love, or the relationship has run its course.  Our marriages require a lot of communication and mutual respect.  Our actions impact them, and we must take responsibility for what we do, how we feel, or how we identify.  

Love, Hannah

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

Our heart’s desires come out after midnight.

When my wife and I were learning more about my gender identity, we would have these amazing, vulnerable conversations late at night (and often early into the morning) about how I felt, how she felt, and, well, about clothes and makeup.  These talks were often accompanied by a bottle or two of wine.  My wife was the first person who I really opened up to.  I came out to others previously but my wife and I really dug deep into how I felt and what I wanted.  Her questions and patience and honesty really helped me to feel safe when it came to discussing what it is simple and complicated at the same time.  

But that’s my wife.  She makes everyone feel safe and important.  After a lifetime of living with my feelings and desires I was tired of keeping this inside.  I was tired of keeping secrets.  It was a relief, and still is, to talk with her.  Wine can help, but I think what really allowed me to open up to her and challenge myself was having these conversations after a long day.  As my day progresses, I lose my filter and tend to say what I am thinking or feeling.  I don’t have the bandwidth (if you will) to blow off a difficult question.  I lose my defenses and i just become really honest with myself and ultimately, became honest with her.  

No, I never lied about this side of me.  I came out to her while we were dating and talked about I loved lingerie, and told her that was where it ended.  Of course, looking at who I am now it’s hard to believe that all of THIS was just about panties, but that is how I understood it.  Besides those rare occasions I bought a dress (that would ultimately end up quickly getting purged) I never really wore anything beyond bras and panties and heels at that point.  

Of course, these talks were not just about me.  She had feelings and thoughts about this side of me as well.  These late conversations were just as necessary for her as they were significant for me.  We were honest with ourselves and with each other after midnight in a different way.  I think we reveal what we want, how we feel, and who we are at the end of a long day.  Again, the wine helped.

But these days I don’t drink and can barely stay awake after 10pm, but I digress.

I get a lot of emails at night.  My website traffic is surprisingly high after I fall asleep.  I get more comments on my Flickr page and DMs on Twitter than I expected.  Whenever I read an email that was sent at three in the morning I am always surprised that anyone is still awake at that time.  Again, I am not as young as I used to be and forget that I used to be able to stay up that late.  A lot of the emails that I get at this time of night tend to be very very honest.  They can be very long and it’s not uncommon for the spelling to get a little careless as the email goes on.  I suspect the writer is probably having a drink which is fueling their courage to be honest about themselves or to help them send an email to someone they can relate to.  The sender will talk about how they’ve always wanted to wear panties but never were brave enough.  How they want to be honest with their wife but just are afraid of her reaction.  I imagine these messages are being sent long after their partners are asleep and they are going online and looking at sites they normally wouldn’t during the day.  

Again, wine helps.  Well, maybe not help, but it can cause someone to act without thinking, without restraint, but that is not always a good thing.

I usually respond to these emails and offer resources if they ask, or answer questions, or send links that I think would be helpful, whether it is for a gender therapist or where to find size 14 stilettos.  Sometimes I get a reply but if I do, it’s not uncommon for them to tell me to never contact them again and they have purged and they are no longer a crossdresser.  Good luck with that.  My guess is that they immediately regretted sending the email and want to pretend it never happened.  

And that’s fine.  You do you.

If you are reading this post on your phone while your wife is sleeping soundly next to you, I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with you.  This is who you are, this is who we are.  You can’t change what you want, this will not go away.  That might help you feel better, it might not.  You can choose to listen to this side of you, and what you decide to do is your choice.  But whether you accept this side of you, or pretend it doesn’t exist, please know that it is okay to be who you are.  It is a complicated life, your gender identity may or may not make anything easier, it is what it is.  

On a similar but possibly lighter note, I am surprised at how many DMs I get on Twitter with a photo of a dude’s penis asking “u up?”.

I’m probably not awake, but even if I was, my god, go away.  

Love, Hannah

Acceptance and Embracing

We know that “society” will never “accept” us. 

We can’t wait for “them” to let us know that crossdressing or wanting to wear a dress or lipstick or whatever we have tucked away in our dresser drawers or hidden in our closets is okay.  

Acceptance of who we are comes from ourselves.  Some of us accept who we are with giddy excitement. They embrace this side of themselves.  They have denied this side of themselves for too long until finally, finally they accept that they are who they are, that they love to wear lingerie or nail polish or the countless, wonderful things that they have dreamed of wearing.  For others, this acceptance comes with resigned reluctance.  They have fought this side of themselves for their entire lifetimes, thinking, hoping, and perhaps praying it would go away.  But it didn’t, and it won’t.  Some of us just stop fighting ourselves, they stop denying that this is a phase and this is who they are.  

We want this acceptance of ourselves.  Conflict, tension, denial can be very exhausting.  Thinking that there is something wrong with us is very depressing but this is who we are.  This is how we are wired, this is how we were born.  I cannot change my gender identity no more than I can change my age.  

We know that accepting this side of us is essential for survival.  Denying any part of ourselves can wear on us, it exhausts us, it consumes us.  Acceptance of oneself usually feels *AMAZING*.  A weight has been lifted, the missing piece of our identity falls into place, and a serene peace envelops us.  Hopefully we are happier.  I think most of us are.

Of course, not everyone wants to accept this side of themselves.  They are terrified that this is who they are, that this is not a phase.  The fear is that if they accept that there is something to their gender identity other than BEING A MAN, it may mean other things.  Does it mean we were born in the wrong body?  Does it mean you are gay?  Does it mean we are going to transition?  Well, maybe, but not necessarily.  It’s normal to jump to the conclusion that because there is a side of you that is typically seen as feminine that perhaps you do not fit the societal view of heterosexuality.  But really…?  Wanting to wear a nightgown does not mean that you are unknowingly attracted to men.

I do understand the need, the hope that society accepts us.  For many of us, there was a stigma with being anything that wasn’t masculine.  It’s quite silly.  There was a boy in my first grade who was really good at jumping rope.  It didn’t take long for some boys to decide that jumping rope was for girls and he was mocked all throughout grade school for being a sissy, for being a girl.  This, of course, is silly and harmful, the kid was just really good at jumping.  As I watched that kid get tormented for years, I learned that this side of me needs to stay a secret.  I never thought there was something wrong with me, but my life was hard enough as it was and I didn’t need to be ostracized because of what I wanted to wear.  It would be nice to live in a world where a boy could jump rope or wear nail polish without getting beat up.  
At some point we understand that society doesn’t, and never will accept us.  Sure, they many tolerate or even love drag queens or take sensitivity training at work about gender identity, but for those of us who simply like to wear lingerie that level of acceptance is never coming.  And it doesn’t need to.  What I wear to bed and under my clothes is no one’s business.  No one needs to know what kind of underwear I am wearing, whether it is boxers or panties.  Spoiler alert: it’s panties.

But our partners need to know.  Our partners need to know who we are.  All of who we are.  But this is not about that.  I have written a lot of the importance of being honest with our significant others in the past, but this is about why we crave that acceptance.
We want someone other than ourselves to tell us that it’s okay.  Even after we accept this side of us we will still go back and forth about it.  We may go from loving this side of us to wishing it would go away.  We have accepted this is who we are, but some of us may still wish that this side of us would vanish.  Spoiler alert: it won’t.

Our partners accepting this side of us… and liking this side of us are two different things.  Like us, our partners may come to the point where they have accepted that this is who we are.  “My husband likes to wear panties and he’s not going to change” is not an easy thing for our wives to say.  We want our partners to like this side of because most of us like who we are.  We know it’s a lot to ask, we know it’s a lot to take in.  We know that their man wearing panties (or whatever) is a big change.  We know how hard it is to be who we are, to accept who we are, and we must remember our partners are going to go through that agony, that confusion as well.  Putting someone we love through the same thing we put ourselves through is going to cause a lot of guilt.  It’s a lot to ask.  Even now I want to constantly tell my wife thank you for all she puts up with.  

We can accept ourselves, but liking, embracing this side of ourselves are not the same thing.  The same goes with our partners.  We want our partners to LIKE this side of us because it makes it easier.  We feel less guilt when we wear a nightie because our wives like it when we do.  Does my wife like this side of me?  She has long accepted that this is who I am.  It doesn’t phase her the way it did when I came out to her before we got married.  I think she is used to it which is not the same as resigning herself to it.  I think she likes we talk about makeup or styles or cute clothes.  I think she likes that I can give my thoughts on an outfit she’s wearing and knowing my perspective and opinion is coming from somewhere a little different because of my gender identity.  

But does she ever think “oh boy, I’m so glad my husband crossdresses and wears panties!”  No, I don’t think so.  I think she likes that this side of me makes me happy, and really, that’s enough.  It’s not much different than a wife being happy that her husband likes to play video games, watch football or something.  I don’t think there’s a lot of wives who are thrilled because their husband likes to fish.  They may be happy that their spouse has something, and does something, that makes them happy, though.

Some of us have partners that will dress to the nines with them and hit the town.  Some of us have partners who see our femme selves as their BFFs and go shopping with.  But for most of us, our partners accepting this side of us is the most we can ask for, and the most we can hope for.  I understand we want our partners to like this side of us, to be happy with this side of us.  I understand, believe me.  Accepting their partners as we are is not easy, and even if they do, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be difficult sometimes.

Love, Hannah  

Ask Hannah!

I’ve always been interested in cross-dress but never tried it I’m afraid, not sure why and I don’t think it was out of fear, but in recent years my anxiety issues have really been debilitating at times and it’s effecting my quality of life. Im sure there’s still some stigma to cross-dressing and I want to be respectable to people who cross-dress so Im wondering if you know if this can be a way to manage stress and anxiety? And if it is what do you recommend for the “novice”? Oh and I’m on a tight budget atm 😦 is some sort of under garment appropriate or is that a waist of time. Very interested in makeup as well!

I am not a therapist, but I would encourage you to seek out counseling when it comes to managing your stress and anxiety.  Your mental health is at the root of everything in your life and it must be a priority, especially these days.  I know that my medication and therapy has improved my life a zillion percent and I would recommend you consider it.  Before I learned how to live with my anxiety and treat it I was a wreck (almost) all the time.  It impacted my work, my family, even relaxing.  It was horrible.  

There’s always always always always always always going to be a stigma when it comes to going this side of us.  It will never be okay.  Society is never ever going to say “hey, it’s okay to crossdress” so stop waiting for that moment.  No one is going to give you permission and you don’t need it.  

As for you being a novice, we were all novices at one time.  You may find this helpful.  When it comes to crossdressing it all comes down to what you want to wear.  Panties?  Nail polish?  Stockings?  A nightgown?  Stilettos?  Crossdressing is anything that is outside of the societal norms of the gender binary.  

While it is true that crossdressing takes time, money, and patience, you don’t have to go broke when it comes to starting out.  True, a really good wig can cost hundreds of dollars and a pair of heels can get pricey, but you can get a pair of panties for just a few dollars at Target.

Makeup is something you learn by doing.  Start off with some inexpensive makeup and learn about technique, your colors, what works, what doesn’t, how to blend, how to apply that perfect cupid’s bow…   If you want to crossdress, you need to be ready to commit to it. This is an investment of time and money.  As much as I would like it to be true, there is no fairy godmother who will drop by and transform us into the princess many of us long to be.  Watching makeup tutorials on Youtube is about as free as it gets, so perhaps start there.

Love, Hannah

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

Dress Me Up! Dress Me Down!

I will never, ever, understand some of the kinks and fetishes people have. And that’s okay. I don’t need to, and I don’t want to. Wear that latex, pay someone to spank you, be a furry. You do you. I am not here to judge why some people are so turned on by gloves, dressing up as animal, or being humiliated.

Understanding things is overrated, anyway. I have been who I am all my life and I still don’t understand why I am who I am. I understand WHO I am, but not WHY. There is no why, probably.

Blogger Dan Savage recently explained the difference between a kink and a fetish, and I feel it would be important to lay out what they mean:

The natural follow-up question: What’s the difference between a kink and a fetish then? While people often use those terms interchangeably, KINKY, they mean different things. Dr. Justin Lehmiller recently unpacked the difference on Sex & Psychology: “Kink is a very broad concept that encompasses pretty much any form of sexual expression that falls outside of the mainstream. This includes the eroticization of intense sensations (such as mixing pleasure and pain), playing with power differentials, deriving pleasure from inanimate objects, role playing, and more… [whereas] fetishes involve heightened attraction to certain objects (like boots and shoes) and/or body parts beyond the genitals (like feet and armpits).”

So, all fetishes are kinks but not all kinks are fetishes.

Some of us do what we do because it is a kink, and that’s okay. I think I have made it very clear that there is not a sexual reason I am who I am. I may feel sexy wearing a certain dress, a certain stiletto, or lingerie. I may wear something because I want to feel sexy, but I am not aroused by it.

I don’t try to understand, nor pretend to understand why someone has a certain fetish or kink. I don’t expect to understand why we wear what we wear.

However! I think I understand forced feminization perfectly.

Obviously when we forced to do something it’s because we don’t want to do it. In a sexual or a kink sense, one may seek out being forced to do something because it’s what we want. One pays to have a dominatrix tie them up. When you think about it, you are paying them to do something you don’t want them to do, or pretend you don’t want them to.

Of course, there can be a thrill of not being in control, to be restrained, to do something against one’s will. Again, I am not trying to explain or understand one’s kink. It’s just how someone is wired.

Forced feminization is a little different. If our partners, if a dominatrix, or whoever “forces” someone to wear panties or whatever, it removes that control from us. “Oh, I don’t WANT to wear a bra, but she MADE me.” All of a sudden we’re dressed up and it’s okay because you were forced to do it, not because you wanted to wear that dress.

But let’s be honest, when we are “forced” to do something kinky or sexual, it’s because we really really really want to do it.

There can be a lot of overlap between our gender identity and what turns us on. When I am dressed up, I am not… this may be TMI, but I am not turned on.

And! As long as I am thinking about TMI, please reconsider what you put in an email to me. I do understand how this side of us can start as a fetish or a kink, I really do, but I really really really do not want to hear, or need to hear what you do sexually, or want to do sexually, when you are dressed up. There’s nothing like catching up on my email in the morning and reading about how someone likes to wear stockings and… uh, explore their body.

I never liked the idea of forced feminization. I don’t like the idea of not being in control of what I wear. If I am en femme, if I am wearing lingerie or leggings or a skirt it’s because I want to.

However, this is where some of us start. We repress, we deny, we ignore this side of us but we want it to come out. Sometimes this (ugh) journey starts with a push. For some, our partners forcing us to dress up or wear something opens the door to who we are and how we want to live our lives and what we wear.

I get a lot of traffic from the search term “forced feminization” or a version of it. And that’s fine. No judgement. But if you’re reading this it’s okay to wear what you want, to take control of your wardrobe.

Love, Hannah

Peace in the Garden

“Are you excited for tomorrow?” my wife asked.

I shrugged.

“Liar”, she teased.

She was referring to a photo shoot I had the next day. It wasn’t a big one, it was for a few dress reviews but they always take a lot of work, and I told her that. I knew I would have fun once things got started and I would be excited to see the pictures, but photo shoots, even simply going out en femme take a lot of work and a lot of planning.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful or bitchy or snobbish or anything, and I am so blessed and fortunate to have the life that I have. But sometimes after a busy week it sounds very tempting to just be lazy instead of packing, selecting accessories, heels, and everything else that goes with a shoot.

But Shannonlee was ready, I had my makeup appointment scheduled, and the designer was counting on me so there was no backing out now. Not that I would, of course. Even after all this time it’s still a thrill to feel the wind dance through my hair and hear the music of my stilettos singing on the sidewalk.

Once my makeup is done and Shannonlee’s camera starts clicking away, I begin to relax and have fun. The hard part, the planning, is done. It’s time to smile (or not) and let the camera do the work.

This summer Shannonlee have done a lot of shoots and the last one we did, well, I wasn’t feeling it. My allergies were causing my eyes to water and smudge my makeup, the sun was bright and hot… I didn’t feel cute and I knew that the photos wouldn’t show the confident girl that I pretend to be. Well, sometimes I am not pretending. 🙂

Thankfully Shannonlee worked her magic and the photos turned out beautiful as always.

Still, I was a little burnt out. Not necessarily from the shoots but from everything. I am emotionally exhausted and I barely have the bandwidth to pay attention to things or really lose myself in something. Basically I feel restless and distracted all the time. Modeling takes a lot of concentration and commitment. I just didn’t feel I could pull myself together for the shoot.

But this shoot was different. It was in the Peace Gardens in south Minneapolis and it was just a beautiful place to be. The weather cooperated and everything just kind of came together. We had fun. I mean, we always do, but this time we really explored the space and interacted with the environment more. It wasn’t just me smiling in front of… something. There was a different energy at this shoot. I worried less about getting the perfect shot and just… try to lose myself in it and I think I pulled it off.

I am looking forward to see the photos, but here are a few of the dresses I wore.

Love, Hannah

Back in Yellow

Once I stepped out of the house for the first time and watched the sunrise on a summer morning I felt that I had conquered something impossible. Hannah was real, I was real, we were living in the real world. I felt invincible, I felt powerful, I felt fearless.

I began to think of all the other things I could do. My confidence was through the roof, my potential was endless, nothing could stop me. It was this moment when I started to list all the things she could do. All things I wanted to do.

I felt strong, I felt cute, I felt loved. Well, loved probably isn’t the word, but I was tolerated. What I mean is that I was terrified of being in the real world, I was scared of being harassed, laughed at, or worse. None of these things happened. The city accepted me, tolerated me, ignored me.

As I grew more secure with this side of me, and with how I looked, I fantasized about having professional photos done. An iPhone selfie is fine and my patient wife took countless pictures in those early days. Her love and support did more for me than a color-correcting foundation ever could.

Once the MN T-Girls started to meet, I thought it would be fun to do a professional photo shoot with a photographer. I had no idea how to set something like that up, but my philosophy is that once you commit to something, the universe just kind of gets out of your way and somehow it happens.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Hannah knew someone who knew someone and we got to chatting about my idea and her enthusiasm and support made me feel calm and safe. A few months later a small group of the T-Girls met at a studio in Minneapolis to have our pictures taken by Shannonlee.

This was five years ago and since then the group has had an annual shoot and I have had quite a few shoots with her on my own for modeling gigs and for my own vanity, if I am being honest.

For our first shoot I wore two different dresses. Shannonlee took so many pictures and I had never felt more beautiful. I still love looking at these pictures.

I realized a few months ago that this year marked five years of working with, and five years of friendship with Shannonlee. To mark and celebrate this occasion, I decided to wear one of the dresses I wore at that first photo shoot for our most recent shoot.

Thankfully it still fits. 🙂

Love, Hannah

If You Want To Be a Girl, You Can Be a Girl

“I’m a what?”

I remember the first time I heard the word ‘crossdresser’. I was in grade school, probably 6th grade, when a friend mentioned an episode of a talk show that featured men who liked to wear girl clothes.

I was stunned. At times I felt like I was the only boy in the world who longed to wear beautiful dresses, but to learn that there were so many of us that there was a word for someone like me was astonishing.

In a lot of ways, this was reassuring. This was comforting. It was a relief to know that there were others like me. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with me, but knowing that there were others who wore what I wore and that maybe, just maybe it was more normal than I had ever dared to dream.

Of course I am a crossdresser. But I am a crossdresser by my definition of it. A few years ago I started to identify as transgender. But finally I feel that identifying as bi-gender is the most accurate.

There may be too much emphasis on labels and indeed it can be overwhelming and confusing to have so many options, especially to others. Some wives can live with their husbands wearing panties, but are terrified at the idea that their spouse may be transgender. To many, being transgender might mean hormones, surgery, and transitioning.

Of course, being trans does not necessarily mean that these step will be taken. The t-word covers a lot of territory, if you will.

I do think that having different ways to identify can be helpful. For a boy who wants to wear a dress and look pretty they may feel that identifying as trans and transitioning is the only option. It’s not. If you want to be a girl, you can be a girl, but you don’t have to always be a girl.

And this is exactly why I am bi-gender. Sometimes I want to b a girl, sometimes I don’t. I don’t want to live as one gender for the rest of my life. I don’t want to pick just one. I like being both of the genders I identify as.

As I grew up and started to realize that this side of me is never going away (not that I wanted it to), my wish, my curiosity, my need to be beautiful, to wear panties or mascara or a skirt grew. And it grew stronger. The more I denied doing these things, whether it was me holding myself back or because I lived at home and I simply couldn’t wear a dress whenever I wanted, the stronger these feelings became.

Once I moved out and started doing small things, like wearing a nightgown to bed, underdressing, or relaxing in my apartment in a dress, I realized that those feelings subsided a bit. I was content. I was happy. What I was doing was enough.

Over time I started makeup, eventually a wig, and one day I became who I am today. I realized that as much as I loved this side of me, I didn’t want to live full-time as Hannah. I like both of my genders. Being a girl from time to time is enough for me.

Over my life I had tipped my toe into this beautiful world. And I did it in small steps. I wore panties, loved them, and then a bra. Then stockings. More lingerie. Heels. Soon real clothes. Then makeup, a wig, and then stepping out of the house.

Each step, each new piece of a wardrobe, each new level (if you will) was another step into a new gender for me.

By allowing myself to wear what I wanted, to do what felt right, gave me the perspective that transitioning wasn’t for me. I love being a girl, I love being a boy, I love wearing “girl clothes” in boy mode. I love who I am. I love being in-between. I love all of it.

We need to find out who we are in baby steps. When we deny this side of us, we may make the wrong decisions about who we are and what we want. My desire to be a girl was so strong throughout my life (or at least look like a girl) that had I not made these tiny steps it’s possible that I would have felt that transitioning was the only and best option for me.

But it’s not. You don’t have to choose. You might love to wear lingerie but you do you don’t have to transition to do that. If you want to wear a cute pink bra and matching thong, you don’t have to transition. Wanting to wear lingerie (or a skirt or lipstick) doesn’t mean anything beyond wanting to wear lingerie (or a skirt or lipstick).

It’s in this sense that labels (if you will) are comforting. Wanting to wear stilettos doesn’t mean that you are a girl. Perhaps you are a crossdresser, perhaps you are bi-gender. It’s possible that your journey (ugh) may end at living full-time or transitioning, but perhaps not.

We tend to overthink and over-analyze who we are and what this means and why we are who we are. It’s normal to do so. But thinking about who we are only gets one so far. We need to explore this side of us. Buy those heels, try on that corset, get a wig fitting. Discover yourself.

Who are you?

Love, Hannah