Courage and Skirts

There are SO many fabulous websites and blogs out there that talk about the… practical side of crossdressing and presenting femme, whether it is how to walk in heels or applying makeup.   For better or for worse, I try to focus on the mental and emotional aspect of (gestures vaguely) all THIS.  What I mean is there is no real practical workaround (if you will) when it comes to certain aspects of who we are physically.  

For example, there are practical and functional and useful techniques when it comes to makeup covering up the annoying shadow that facial hair can create.  No matter how closely we shave, we can’t win that fight for very long.  Even if the stubble isn’t visible, there’s usually the subtle, blueish hint along our jawline.  But there are a few things we can’t get around.  Some t-girls think they are too tall to be girls.  Some girls think they are too tall to wear heels.  While it’s true that there’s nothing you can do to, well, be shorter, I try to discuss why height (or anything else) shouldn’t hold you back from wearing the five inch stilettos.  

Sometimes I say something that I think is kind of clever and I always try to be helpful, even if I miss the mark completely.  I still keep at it.  When I have an idea for my blog or something that I want to write about, I’ll make a note on a tiny Post-It or open up a tab for my website and write a few prompts with plans on returning to it in a day or so to expand on that little flicker of an idea.  Sometimes what I planned on writing changes or is tweaked by, well, something happening.  This is what happened yesterday.  I received an email from a reader wishing they were brave enough to go out en femme.  Usually when I read an email I immediately start formulating a response in my mind and while I was reading her email I realized that you can’t be brave if you’re not afraid.  There are things I do, places I have gone, dresses that I have worn where I have thought that I was being really brave in doing so.  But! while I may have felt brave it was only because I was also feeling afraid.  

You can’t feel courageous if you’re not scared.

I thought it was, well, maybe not insightful but perhaps a good reminder for girls like us.  I might be brave, I might look courageous but at those times I am also scared out of my mind.  I opened my website, jotted a few notes in a draft and uploaded the photo you see here with plans on writing more later.  I chose this picture, which is from a photo shoot I did for En Femme in the before times (prior to COVID) because I felt very scared that day.  I had to be very brave.  The shoot took place at the Mall of America which at any given time has more people in it than most small towns.  Ulta has a salon at the mall which made it convenient for booking my makeover.  I don’t do my makeup (for obvious reasons) before a makeover, so it’s extremely stressful to walk from the parking lot to where I have my appointment scheduled while I look very BOY.  Yes, I have my hair and my outfit and jewelry, but without my makeup I look hideous.  Walking through the mall looking and feeling like a man in a dress takes an insane amount of courage.  

And yes, I know this is all very superficial but I don’t care.

I felt (and looked) better after my makeover, but I needed to keep being brave.  Wandering around the Mall of America, especially during the holiday season, means you’ll pass by approximately over a half a zillion people.  Being around that many people increases the chance of being noticed by someone who is less than supportive of girls like us, to put it lightly.  But I walked through the mall with my head held high, being brave and afraid at the same time.  It was also a little nerve wracking to pose for pictures at various places in the mall.  A photographer taking pictures of someone tends to draw a few curious onlookers, so I had to be brave and not pay attention to them.  In the end it was a fun shoot and Shannonlee and I took some great pictures and I was proud of myself for how brave I was.

My intended post was originally going to be about this shoot (and I suppose it still is, lol) but the point I wanted to make was that a trans person knows how much courage it takes to be true to ourselves.  I don’t ever feel brave in male mode because I don’t ever feel scared (well, at least not often) in male mode.  But Hannah is brave.  And you are brave too.  

I had planned on writing about all this the next day while having my morning coffee, which is when I do most of my writing.  But as I mentioned before, sometimes things happen which can change my perspective on something and therefore shape my thoughts and feelings as well as what I planned on blogging about.  Sometimes something happens which helps reinforce what I am thinking.  The latter is what happened yesterday.  

I know everyone is entitled to their opinion but sometimes someone’s opinion is completely wrong and uninformed and dangerous.  I don’t understand why some people are famous (or why they are STILL famous), but their opinions still attract media attention which can be very damaging.  Look, if you identify as cis gender I know that it’s not easy to understand or relate to someone who feels that the gender they were assigned to at birth feels wrong to them.  As a trans girl I can tell you I don’t understand it either.  But I don’t need to understand it.  You don’t need to understand it either.  I don’t speak for the entire gender non-conforming community but I don’t think anyone needs to understand us.  Just accept us.  Or at the very least stop going out of your way to hurt us, whether with words, weapons, or with legislation.  

I recall a poem by Leonard Cohen called ‘Tired’ which had the following lines:


… believe the word of God
Who has told you so many times
And in so many ways
To love onе another
Or at least not to torture and murdеr
In the name of some stupid vomit-making human idea
That makes God turn away from you

I am not naive, I understand that there will always be those who want to hurt people in the LGBTQAI+ community.  I understand that there will always be those who don’t understand those like us.  But what I don’t understand is why someone feels it’s… acceptable to share such a hurtful opinion on a community.  If you don’t like or understand a community that you are not a part of, please kindly shut up.  Your perspective doesn’t benefit anyone and it is needlessly cruel.  Your celebrity status doesn’t make you an authority on what is and what isn’t acceptable when it comes to someone else’s identity.  

Yesterday a movie… star? Director? felt that the world needed to hear their asinine thoughts on this.  I am not going to give this person or their comments more oxygen or attention than they have already generated but they said that cowardly genes have lead to men swapping out jeans for skirts and that men have become wildly feminized.  Apparently this person thought these opinions were important enough to share in an interview about a silly movie.

My first reaction was that I was taken aback how stupid and ill-informed these opinions were.  These comments contradict what I was thinking earlier in the day about courage and essentially being true to yourself.  I am not brave when I am wearing jeans.  I am brave in a skirt.  The day of the photo shoot I was the most courageous person in the mall, or perhaps in the entire zip code.  It is not weakness, it is not cowardice that makes me wear a skirt.   It takes a kind of courage and dedication to oneself that this person has never known.

My second reaction (albeit incredibly shallow) was that obviously skirts are waaaay better than jeans.  

I am not sure what this person means by men being wildly feminized.  I mean, I know that’s a fantasy for some of ya’ll but I don’t think that’s what he is referring to.  Perhaps he means anything that isn’t MANLY, like having whiskey for breakfast, chewing glass, or wrestling bears.  But maybe, and hear me out here, maybe someone who has an alleged history of abusing women isn’t the ideal person to listen to when it comes to acceptable behavior.  

Trans people do countless brave things each and everyday, even if that thing is simply existing.  We are brave when we come out to someone.  When we get out of bed. When we schedule a makeover.  When we wear a skirt.  When we post a photo of ourselves on social media.  When we refer to ourselves (even if it is only to ourselves) as a pronoun that is different from the one other people call us by.  

I know how scary the world is.  I live here, too.  I know how hard and terrifying it is to be who we are.  It’s scary to be trans.  You don’t have to feel brave every time you are frightened.  But when you are feeling scared about something and you do it anyway, that’s the definition of courage.

Love, Hannah

11 thoughts on “Courage and Skirts

  1. Brave I was told this by people when I first came out and presented enfem at work but I just never felt I was brave for doing something I needed to do to be happy with myself and to be ok with who I was.
    Brave to me is a soldier or police officer or firefighter that do things I would never do.
    Ok I get it to buck the norm of our society by being different and actually showing the world people like us exist, maybe it’s brave I don’t know but I’ve really never looked back from that first day I came out

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  2. “But when you are feeling scared about something and you do it anyway, that’s the definition of courage.” So well said, Hannah, thank you.

    Very glad for you, Rach, that these apprehensions don’t even come up for you. I’m still apprehensive when I think about going to a women’s clothing store. All too often I just buy things online and then return them if I’m not satisfied. This doesn’t add much cost but it is like a chink in my spirit.

    I’ve talked a lot about these kinds of feelings with my therapist. We’d all love it if the therapist could just flip a switch and we’d no longer feel them. But she doesn’t, and they don’t go away. We just have to learn and gain confidence to live with them.

    I’ve also been told that I’m courageous and sure, I guess I am. But as you said, Rach, we just are ourselves, rather unique women in our own ways. Being trans is just another off of my long list of adjectives that describe me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yup, courage is what people exhibit when they do what needs to be done, while overcoming the inertia created by fear. Each of us has shown courage in the face of fear, whether it was in overcoming simple stage fright, standing up to a bully or stepping forward to accept the oath at induction into the military. And in addition to those I have also found the courage to step out into the world as myself, knowing I might encounter ignorant, hateful people like the one you mention.

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  4. Hannah, next time you tear off a Post It, write on it, “my book”, and ensure you include today’s post in that book!
    What makes people feel they can make hurtful comments with impunity?

    Privilege.

    We all have it. It is usually invisible unless we are quite aware. It comes in a wide range of types; cis, male, even female, white, educated, wealth, those who have housing, and on and on.
    The Cure is to educate us all to become aware. Then we would see the cruel biases we have and have the humility to not pontificate and instead, just be kind.
    Lovely post. Include it in the book.
    Geraldine

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  5. Well said Hanna! Great photo too!

    I’ve recently started going out in public after many years of hiding.
    The first time, I was shaking so badly but as each time passes, I am becoming more brave.
    I’ve gone for runs along a river trail, gone to the grocery store and just out walking.

    I’ve had men hold the door open and others insist that I got ahead of them. That is all very encouraging. But it only takes a look that lasts a little too long to get my adrenaline pumping and I’m looking for a way out 😉

    I have receive unwanted attention by men who have said sexually offensive things to me but they drive away like fools.

    I want to thank you for your posts, I always find something that helps or even better, things that make me think deeper.

    Thanks,
    Erin

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  6. One of my favourite things about this blog is that you do tend to concentrate on the “mental and emotional” aspects of “all this”. There is a tremendous emotional impact about being trans: some highs, and some (many?) lows, and we’re all in the middle of it somewhere, trying to make sense of it all and live our lives the best we can.
    I enjoy that you are supportive and kind to the people who post questions, and that you don’t judge or reject anyone’s point of view.
    Not for the first time, I find myself wishing that we didn’t live in different countries thousands of miles apart!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hannah – your are just amazing! – i love it that you write at the intersection of clothes and the limbic brain – keep it comin’. how can i support you?
    – lotsa love from Oakland, Ca
    bri

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  8. Pingback: Hannah McKnight

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