Secrets of MtF Cross-Dressing

My friend Sybil is hosting a crossdressing workshop at Bondesque in Minneapolis on Tuesday, April 20th!

 Sybil Minnelli is a long time cross-dresser, balancing her kink lifestyle with a vanilla family and work life. She’ll teach you her secrets of cross-dressing, how she balances dual lives, and how she switches her presentation between casual, passable, and fetish themes. Ms. Sybil will share her advice on makeup, hair, clothes, shoes and how to get the look you desire. However, she does lead an interactive class and will encourage others to share their secrets as well. Attend as dressed up as you like and enjoy a very safe, friendly and comfortable environment. Be prepared for a lot of fun discussion about reaching your fem side!

Tickets available here!

Love, Hannah

New En Femme Blog!

My new blog for En Femme is live!

The latest article with blogger, trans-activist and fashionista, Hannah McKnight is now available in our Learning Center! Hannah’s blog discusses more in-depth her life as a self-described T-girl. 

Hannah’s newest article is the third part in a series about starting out crossdressing and exploring gender, identity and labels: “Crossdressing 101.” In this installment, Hannah talks about where crossdressing falls on the transgender spectrum and about identifying as a bi-gender person.  Read it now>>

Love, Hannah

They’re Not Real, and They’re Spectacular

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Okay, this is my last post about my most recent photo shoot (just in time because I have another one in a few weeks).  

This was an emotional shoot and I dipped my stiletto into new waters which was nerve-wracking and empowering and humbling all at the same time.  I was all over the map when it came to these photos but the thing that the photos, the outfits all had in common was my new shape. 
 
No, not that shape, but my new breast forms.  

For the past few years I wore a small pair of forms that weren’t REALLY breast forms, but more along the lines of faux-silicone pads that did a sufficient job of giving me a little shape.  I was satisfied with them, but I also felt they weren’t the right size and shape for my body. 

I felt a little un-proportionate, as if my breasts weren’t quite large enough.  And this is not to say I wanted ENORMOUS breasts or anything, I just wanted something that would give me a more realistic shape for my body.  I also wanted something that felt, looked, and moved a little more realistically.  

Thanks to the generosity of The Breast Form Store, I finally have a pair of real breast forms that are, in a word, amazing.  I have done a few reviews for The Breast Form Store and I buy almost all of my heels and some of my lingerie from them, and I am fortunate to be on friendly terms with them. 

When I was sent some lingerie to review, I was also gifted with a new pair of breast forms.  These forms were selected based on my body type, weight, height, and measurements which was good because I wanted something that was more proportioned to my body.


When I opened the box I was struck by how large they were.  They are a 40B and are much more realistic and larger than I was used to.  When I tried them on I understood exactly why I was sent this size.  They were perfect.  There’s really no other word for them.  I loved how I looked in lingerie…

And I loved how I looked in a tight dress. 

I think my figure here looks pretty amazing but this figure is thanks to a corset, thigh pads, and my new forms.  This isn’t my body.  Not really.  But the right shape wear FEELS like my body.  My thigh pads move with me, my new forms move with me.  They move when I am going up and down stairs, they push up and give me cleavage, and they just feel like a part of me.  

Are they cheap?  No.  But creating your look is a combination of time, patience, and money.  Of course, this is not to say that you need forms, or anything else, to crossdress, to be femme.  But if you are looking for forms, then I absolutely recommend the Platinum Seal Classic.


Very special thanks to all the girls at The Breast Form Store for my new girls.  I heart them.

Love, Hannah

Power and Risk

Yesterday I was part of a… oh, I suppose a focus group might be a good description for it.  I am not sure how much I CAN say, but a few weeks? months? ago Glamour Boutique sent out an email about a new television show called “The Candy Store” centering on crossdressers and t-girls and basically anyone outside of the gender binary.  The creators of the show were looking for girls like us to offer some feedback on what they were making.  


The meeting was attended by the creators of the show as well as about a half-dozen others, mostly girls like us.  The creators talked about the show, the tone of the story, the “goal” of the series, and showed two short previews of what they were working on.  It was a fun experience to be honest and I was glad to be a part of it.


The creators of the show seem sincere and passionate about the story they want to tell.  One of the creators identifies as a crossdresser which of course lends to the credibility of the project.  It’s always a little… hm, well, t-girls GET t-girls.  Crossdressers understand other crossdressers.  It’s nearly impossible for someone else to understand someone like us without being one of us, you know?  I’ve read novels and stories that had someone like us as a character and it almost always misses the mark.  Most stories that I’ve read with characters like us tend to equate crossdressing with fetishism/infidelity/being gay.  Not that there’s anything wrong with a fetish (that doesn’t hurt anyone) or with being gay, but it gets really really old and frustrating to finally see a girl like us in a television show or a movie or a book and the character’s story arc falls into the same, boring, inaccurate, damaging tropes.


And yes, I do mean damaging.  If a crossdresser is always portrayed as a fetishist who is dressing up and cheating on his wife or whatever it won’t take long for the world to think that’s who a crossdresser is.  I mean, the world (for the most part) already does.   


Any television show is an ambitious project, regardless of the story being told, but when the story focuses on a part of the population that is, for the most part, incredibly misunderstood and has a goal of showing people like us in a different, and more realistic light, well, you may as well try to climb a mountain in six-inch stilettos.  


In addition to the show’s ambitious goal, the show also has a ton of responsibility as well.  If the show becomes a hit, if it becomes something that people binge-watch, that people talk about, then all of a sudden crossdressers and t-girls become pulled into the spotlight, the zeitgeist of the moment.  I remember when the movie ‘Philadelphia’ came out which was, from what I remember, the biggest movie (for a while, at least) to star a gay character.  Not only were people talking about the movie itself, but it was a movie that showed a gay man in a way that was different than how most gay men were normally portrayed.  Gay people were usually played for laughs, as flaming, as overtly feminine, or perverts.  This movie… well, it wasn’t that.  


Could this show become “our” ‘Philadelphia’?  I don’t know, it’s too early to tell.  But the risk that a show like this, or any project that has someone like us in it, is that the characters can fundamentally shape the way that others see someone like us.  The creators of the show acknowledged how ‘Tootsie’ contributed to the world’s perspective of crossdressers as well as how RuPaul’s Drag Race has influenced people’s opinion on what a “man who dresses up as a girl” is and means.  I think it’s safe to say that most crossdressers and t-girls don’t think of what we do as drag, and although there’s nothing wrong with drag, I make it a point that what I “do” isn’t drag.  To another point, ‘Tootsie’ came out in 1982, almost 40 years ago and it STILL shapes how people think of those like us. 


Entertainment has a way of shaping the public’s perception of anyone that is different from themselves.  ‘Tootsie’ did that, RuPaul does that.  Please know I am not calling RuPaul out, I think they’re fabulous and what RuPaul does is DRAG, I don’t do drag.  I am also not dunking on a 40 year old movie either.  My point is that any new project, movie, book, television show that could potentially become a hit, will influence how the world sees another segment of the population.  And that’s GOOD!  Yay!  If this show, or any show, puts someone like us in a new light, in a different context that helps the cis-community sees someone like us in a more accurate way, then bring it on.


I absolutely feel that anyone that identifies as a crossdresser, drag performer, t-girl (basically anyone outside of the gender binary) has a responsibility or at the very least, an influence on how the world sees and thinks and feels about us.  And it’s not fair, we are just trying to live our best lives and we want to do it without the weight of responsibility.  Most of us aren’t trying to change the world when we get dolled up to hit the mall, we just are looking for a new dress.  But the reality is that when we step out into the real world we are showing the world that we exist and when people see someone like us, they will usually have an opinion about us.  And again, it’s not fair, but it is what it is.  I am aware of the influence I have (not because of anything special) as a t-girl.  I have this influence BECAUSE I am a t-girl.  When I buy coffee at a cafe I MIGHT be the first transgender girl the barista has ever spoken to.  When I am getting a makeover I MIGHT be the first transgender girl that the makeup artist has ever met.  Their experiences with me will be their first exposure, their first impressions of someone like us.  


My “goal” in these interactions is for the barista, the makeup artist, the cashier, the girl at the shoe store, is for them to say to another person “I met/helped/saw a transgirl today and she was really nice”.  


And yes, it might be an ambitious goal, but it’s also a goal that requires very little effort.  Just be nice, goddammit.  Being nice is (usually) easy.  


But in all the years I have been out en femme, no matter how people I meet, one episode of one television show will have more power, a louder voice, more influence than I ever will.  And with that kind of “power”, there lies the risk, the excitement, the responsibility, the opportunity.  


I hope this show is everything I want it to be.  Not only do I hope it’s a well-written, entertaining show, but I also hope this show helps the world see us how we really are.  And yes, you may as well climb a mountain in stilettos, but at one point EVERYTHING a girl like us did looked impossible. 

Love, Hannah

Related reading

Gender and Privilege

Identity and Responsibility

Life is Like a Shoebox of Stilettos

Walking in stilettos is an act of balance, confidence, and forward momentum.


And if that’s not a metaphor for life then I don’t know what is.


I am active online in three different ways.  Flickr is for photos, my website is for photos, my writings, activism, reviews, and shameless self-promotion, Twitter is for quick thoughts and timely photos.  For example, I’ll post pictures of red dresses around Valentine’s Day.


I admit I’ll post a photo on Twitter if I am feeling neck-deep in my boy life.  Don’t get me wrong, I heart my boy life, but sometimes when I am consumed by boy life responsibilities, such as work stuff, it’s fun to look at pictures of my other life and post a photo that makes me happy.  I am aware I will get comments and likes, and this does give my self-esteem a little boost.  We all like to be told we’re cute, or pretty, or get a compliment on our outfit.  


But like any type of social media, Twitter can bring out the worst in people, or least the creepiest and most inappropriate.  When I tweet a photo, I try to predict the reaction I might get.  If the picture is of a bright yellow dress I expect (and prepared for) certain types of comments. Photos from my lingerie shoot will likely generate comments as well, but they will be of a certain nature and trend more towards the sexual responses.  


And yes, I know, some of you are thinking “that’s what you get for posting pictures of you in a bra and panties”.  


I don’t need you to point that out.  As I said, I try to anticipate comments and use that as my guide as to whether or not I should post a picture.  I also believe that there are expectations of anyone using social media and they should be respectful.  Yes, it’s a picture of me in stockings but for god’s sake could you please be a gentleman?  Could you please not use those specific emojis when commenting.  


I try to balance photos on Twitter between sexy and cute (at least I think they’re sexy or cute) and I try not to take myself too seriously.  I try not to send the message that this side of me is a fetish or a kink, or that by posting photos it doesn’t mean I am looking for, ah, company.  But these comments, messages persist.  Thankfully it’s easy to ignore/block/mute/report users on most forms of social media.  I have taken down photos and deleted tweets, particularly if the comments were vitriolic.  


And yes, I know some girls like us LIKE these comments.  I know for some of us they are validation of how one looks or acceptance of who they are.  And you do you!  No judgement, promise.  But comments with nothing but the eggplant and wagging tongue emojis does nothing for me.  It has the opposite effect if anything.  And yes, I know there are men (and yes, I know, NOT ALL MEN) out there that enjoy making women feel embarrassed or worse.  I know some men think that it’s a compliment when they say they want to have, ah, carnal experiences with a girl.  Gross.  A man wanting to be intimate with me does absolutely nothing for me.  


I don’t post any pictures for anyone but for myself.  I am confident in how I look (usually), I am confident in who I am.  I admit I do enjoy the retweets and the follows and the non-sexual comments.  I do get a little kick of self-esteem when someone likes my tweet.  But I don’t need it.  When I first started to be really active online I craved the attention, I wanted the validation, I wanted the likes.  As my self-esteem grew I needed less attention from social media.  


But social media is not all bad.  It does give me some guidance on what people like based on what type of response a picture gets.  When I started to post pictures from my lingerie shoot, I expected more likes, etc than a picture of a new dress.  I was wrong.  And I’m glad I was wrong.  I think, for the most part, pictures of me in a dress and cuter and sexier than photos in lingerie.  Well, I think they’re sexy or cute.  


People will try to burst your bubble and dull your sparkle.  People will laugh, stare, and ridicule a girl like us.  Anonymous trolls will send pictures of their anatomy and say disparaging things online.  We mustn’t let that stop us from being who we are, we must keep moving forward and beyond the slime.


See?  Balance, confidence, and moving forward.


Love, Hannah

Wilted Flowers

Yesterday I posted some thoughts and pictures from my first photo shoot of 2021.  Typically the first outfit of a shoot shows excitement and confidence…  but as the shoot progresses my energy starts to deplete.  Sometimes my energy is strained because of a pose or from a pair of stilettos.  Some shoots require a lot of walking and as accustomed as I am to walking in heels, sometimes after a couple of miles(!) my legs start to feel a little weary.

  
Sometimes the shoot itself can be emotionally exhausting.  My last shoot was all about lingerie which was a first for me.  I’m used to getting photographed, I am used to wearing dresses with thin straps, skirts that are probably too short, so I didn’t think that lingerie shots would be that different than what I was used to.  My god was I wrong.  I wrote recently about feeling vulnerable and exposed during the shoot.  I was showing a side of myself that the world never sees and it triggered a lot of emotions.  I wear my heart of my sleeve (when I have sleeves) so my emotions are usually pretty obvious when I am feeling something.  


The shoot ended with a different dress than the first one I wore that day.  And to be honest, I wasn’t feeling it.  I was tired from the shoot, I was hungry, I was emotionally drained.  I was exhausted and felt vulnerable (lingerie can do that to you).  I was ready to call it a day but I had a cute flowery dress and I decided to get a few pictures of it.


These photos are cute.  Well, the dress is cute, and Shannonlee did amazing work as always.  The hotel had fun places to take pictures in, my makeover was still amazing, but I was done.  And I think the pictures show that, or least they show me trying harder to look confident and happy despite being tired and hungry.


My final thought from this shoot (and I know I’ve written a lot about this shoot) was that I know I am not “a model”.  Yes, I model and by that logic I AM a model, but I don’t think of myself as anything or as anyone special.  When it comes to this kind of work I am literally stumbling in the dark.  I should probably hire a modeling coach but I think Shannonlee and the clothes and my makeup artist do all the heavy lifting.  They make me look good, and I think their expertise compensate for my lack of experience and my lack of…uh, knowing what I am doing.  

Love, Hannah

Shine, Shine, Shine

Most of my photo shoots are for a reason.  Some of them are for En Femme, some are the annual MN T-Girls shoot, some are for reviews, and some are just for fun.  


It’s easy to get burnt out on them, though.  Don’t get me wrong, I heart them but they do take a lot of planning and coordination between Shannonlee, makeup appointments, shooting locations, and other logistics.  Some shoots have requirements, such as a specific location or vibe that is needed.  Usually this is requested of En Femme and it’s actually fun figuring out the perfect location.  In 2019 we did a shoot for En Femme’s winter line and we were tasked with finding a location that was very Christmasy.  I think it’s safe to say we nailed it.  


I actually like working with guidelines like this.  I think when you are given such specifications your most creative work can happen.  


When I did my last shoot it was going to be all about lingerie and most of the shots were going to be for reviewing two new bra and panty sets and new forms for The Breast Form Store.  Since the shoot was going to be in a hotel room we decided to do some dress shots around the hotel itself.  Since this was the first shoot since November, and my first time completely en femme since then, I was excited for the shoot.  I had a new dress, new forms, and a killer makeover and I was excited for the day.  I felt cute, and I thought I looked cute (please note that looking cute and feeling cute are not always hand-in-hand).  


We started with a few shots in the hotel room….


…then moved to the balcony when the wind decided to play.


After the shots in the room we took to exploring the hotel.  


I love these shots, I love this dress.  I think you can see my excitement and confidence shine through.  This is pretty typical of the first outfit of a shoot and is pretty different than the final outfit of the day which I will talk about in a future post.

Love, Hannah

Baring More Than My Soul

I’ll tell my truth, I’ll speak from my heart, I’ll share my feelings to countless people online.But I am coy and vague in real life.  If someone in real life brings up something I wrote about online, more than likely I will try to subtly change the subject.  


It’s easier for me to say what I am thinking, especially if it’s a sensitive topic, when I am simply typing words into and hitting “post article” on my website than it is to look at someone and have the same conversation.  I am not sure why I am wired this way but I think this is more common for others than I realize.


What I mean is that I will show my vulnerability to strangers but I need to work up the courage to tell someone in real life.  Chatting about your feelings, your thoughts, is a very intimate, potentially exposing act.  To further illustrate this, a few weeks ago when I did my lingerie shoot I had very little hesitation when I posted the pictures online, but goodness it wasn’t easy to allow my friend, my photographer, to see me in my undies.


And that example is the point of this writing.  Even though it is easier for me to post thoughts than it is to verbalize them, it’s not still not always easy to do so.  I’m always honest in my website writings, though sometimes intentionally vague.  I have thoughts about my feelings, and feelings about my thoughts, and that circle is endless.  Where do my feelings begin and thoughts end?  What about the opposite?  What comes first?


When I decided to do my lingerie shoot I felt that my life was at a crossroads, in a way.  Oh, let’s call it a mid-life reflection.  I had a feeling I was crossing over from “I have all the time in the world to do whatever I wish” to “If only I had done what I wanted to when I could have”.  I was prepared emotionally to show you all my corset and stockings, but physically?  It wasn’t the right time.  Sort of.  To be honest I haven’t felt cute in a while.  About a year or so ago I started seeing a doctor on a regular basis to treat my anxiety and was given a prescription to treat my bi-polar…uh, bi-polarality.  And it works great!  Love it.  But as things progressed and I started to think more about life and what I wanted, I was tired of how my anxiety and my tendency to feel extreme lows impacted me.  My medication helps with certain aspects of my bi-polarness but there’s a component it doesn’t treat that I was getting really tired of. 


So my doctor felt that treating me for depression was worth exploring.  And so I am on a second medication and although it’s a small dose it’s having a significant impact on my life.  Again, it’s been a very positive step and I am grateful for my meds.


The drawback is weight gain.  Despite keeping up on my cardio and watching what I eat, the scale is creeping up.  I have been noticing the difference and I hate it.  I knew this was a stupid time to take pictures in my bra and panties but I did it anyway.  Some of the photos made me cringe, but again, I posted them anyway.  Some of them.  🙂  The photos are very exposing, and I mean, they are obviously exposing but for girls like us they are exposing in a different way.  When I am wearing a cute dress I have the benefit of my thigh pads, my breast forms, my corset, and just being able to cover up my less than perfect body and shape.  But these photos, despite the bra and stockings, are some of the most mannish pictures of me ever.  I mean, look at the rectangular shape, look at the love handles, look at the man shape.  


So!  Why did I post these photos?  I suppose these pictures represent my core belief that clothes and lingerie are wearing cute things are for anyone regardless of what your body looks like or your anatomy or what’s in your panties.  I’ll never have a natural curvy figure, I’ll never have a “femme” body.  I have a MAN body, despite what my heart and brain says when it comes to being bi-gender.  My body is stubbornly aging me as a man.  There’s more gray and white in my facial hair than there used to be.  I’m getting older.  And yes I know this destroys the illusion some of my readers have of me, but the reality (in case someone needs reminding) is that biologically and physically I am a man (if you look at gender in a binary way and you subscribe to the antiquated thinking that genitalia=gender).  And those chromosomes are in the driver’s seat when it comes to my shape and aging.  


Some of my readers tell me how envious they are of how I look.  Please don’t be.  Envy, jealousy…  they just hold you back.  I know because I feel that way towards a lot of other t-girls.  But these photos hopefully show you that there’s nothing special about my body.  I was not born with a small frame, a naturally femme body.  I have to remove my chest hair, shave my arms, exercise, skip the sweets and just work for what I have.  There’s nothing magical about me.  I struggle with a lot of aspects of my life.  I have a wonderful life but it’s a life I work for.  I have a nice home but I work a lot to keep it.  I have a wonderful marriage and it’s this way because my wife and I make it a priority.  These lingerie photos show that there’s nothing unique about me.  Cover up my head and the photos may as well be a picture of a boy wearing a bra.  And on some level there’s some truth to that.  


It’s a little frustrating that the medication that is used to treat my depression is having a negative impact on me physically.  It’s not uncommon for our self-esteem to be tied to how we feel about how we look and how I look depresses me sometimes, especially lately.  I know it’s worth it to be on these meds but I feel more MAN than ever lately and these pictures don’t necessarily help.  On the plus side these pictures represent wanting to do something and having reservations about it but doing it anyway.  Being brave is not about not being afraid.  Being brave is doing something that scares you.  And I think these photos are brave.  Don’t get me wrong, some of these pictures look amazing, but some…  well, not so much.  And to be clear, that’s on me, not the shortcomings of the lingerie or of my photographer or of my makeup artist.


I know these photos (I suppose all my photos) come off as egotistical and vain.  I get that.  But I hope these pictures also remind others of the extreme hesitation, the conflicted feelings, and the crippling blow to my self-esteem some of these photos cause.  The reminder that I am getting older and my body is changing.  On the opposite extreme, I hope these photos inspire you.  I hope they show I am not different from other t-girls that sometimes feel that they look like a boy wearing a bra.  I look that way, I feel that way.  I am no more femme than anyone else, I just have a wardrobe, a makeup artist that really knows how to contour, and a photographer that creates that illusion.

Love, Hannah

Gender and Privilege

I had an interesting thought the other day.

Well, I thought it was interesting.  


The very first trans person I was friends with (as far as I know) was someone I met when I was in my twenties.  At first I knew them when they were still presenting as male to the world and we became good friends.  It wasn’t long until I met her and over the course of time I saw him less and less and soon all I knew was her.  Not only was there a change in how they presented and the pronouns and names, I watched this person become happier and more comfortable. 

For a while.  As she started to live full time and start her transition I also listened to her as she came out to other friends, her co-workers, and her family.


It would be a colossal understatement to say some of these steps were heartbreaking.  But she persisted.    


Her story is her story and I don’t feel comfortable telling any more of it without her blessing but my point is that for someone transitioning this is a familiar story.  There are consequences when someone comes out, when someone changes their gender (at least to the rest of the world), their name, pronouns, and wardrobe (at least the wardrobe they show the rest of the world).


My “interesting” thought is that my gender identity doesn’t have the same consequences as my friend.  She didn’t really have a choice when it came to coming out.  She HAD to.  She wasn’t bi-gender, she wasn’t a crossdresser, she was she.  I have a privilege that she didn’t have.  I can choose whom to come out to.  I can choose if I want to.  I don’t have to come out to anyone.  

 
I know I have privilege.  I have it based on my skin color, when I present as a boy, when people assume I’m straight (this isn’t to say that I’m not straight).  I am reminded of this privilege when I am en femme.  For the most part I am treated just fine or at the very least people are indifferent.  But I get the occasional stare, the random cashier who treats me like crap, the passive aggressive comments.  I know these comments and reactions are because I am obviously trans when I am en femme.  But that rude behavior doesn’t exist in boy mode.  


I am lucky to be who I am.  I am happy I am bi-gender.  I don’t know if I could ever be brave enough to come out to EVERYONE in my life, consequences be damned.  I can choose who knows Hannah, I can choose almost everything about who I am.    

When I started blogging years ago, the idea was to celebrate this side of us.  To embrace and accept and to fall in love with who we are.  I make this side of us sound so fun (and it is!) but I can’t forget that being trans is a source of great anxiety, stress, and sadness for so many of us.  It shouldn’t be that way.  The world shouldn’t make us feel that way. 

Related reading

Identity and Responsibility

Love, Hannah