We are brave when we whisper to ourselves “I am transgender” or “I am a crossdresser”.
We are brave when we shyly walk through the lingerie department of a store.
We are brave when we leave the house en femme.
We are brave when we come out to someone.
We are brave just by existing.
And I am tired of being brave. I am tired that being transgender automatically requires us to face our fears. Sometimes our fear is someone that we know seeing us when we go out en femme. We are afraid of ridicule, or people pointing at us, of people attacking us. We live in a world that doesn’t understand us.
But that in itself is okay. We don’t have to be understood. I have been wearing panties for decades and I still don’t know WHY. There’s no psychological reason I am who I am.
I am not dreaming of a world that understands us. I dream of a world that stops attacking us. Just because you don’t “get” us, just because you don’t “approve” of us it doesn’t give you or anyone else the right to hurt us. We just want to be left alone.
Things have been, well, demoralizing lately, to put it lightly. There are many laws being considered that target our community. There have been many laws that have already been passed. Each “successful” piece of legislation will only encourage another state, another lawmaker to propose a similar, if not identical, law.
At my most pessimistic, I don’t think that this is going to stop. It’s not going to get better or easier. Not in my lifetime.
These laws impact us on a lot of levels. Lately I have been feeling the emotional strain these laws are designed to create. Cruelty is the point for a lot of them. Not long ago I wondered if there would be a day when I would have to disappear. I wondered if I would need to take down my website, disband the MN T-Girls, and stop going out en femme.
These were very depressing thoughts but I have stepped back from the precipice a little.
I suppose going back into the closet is one of the goals for laws like these. To make us vanish.
I felt I was at a crossroads. Should I go back into the closet before things got worse? Should I stubbornly carry on? I used to think my days of rebellion were behind me, but I still feel feisty when I think of some authority trying to tell me what to do.
This doesn’t mean I am not a law-abiding citizen. What I mean is that if “society” or our elected “leaders” are trying to suppress us, it makes me want to be even MORE visible. Sometimes simply existing is an act of rebellion. It’s the most punk thing I can do.
A friend of mine emailed me who was also discouraged about a lot of the politics impacting our community. She was nothing but positive. Part me wondered how anyone could be optimistic and brave these days. She said despite everything happening, it is time to be more visible than ever. She was so… sincere in this.
In the third and final installment of Change Your Gender, Change Your World, Hannah McKnight, our resident expert, describes the butterfly effect and how it can be used to understand the journey in accepting one’s identity.
Read the third and final article – how does Hannah’s journey relate to your own? See it now>>
The hill I will die on is that crossdressing takes time, money, and patience.
Learning to strut in stilettos takes practice.
Building a wardrobe isn’t free.
Mastering your makeup will take time.
I get a lot of emails from t-girls and crossdressers who are frustrated that it’s taking forever to learn how to blend their foundation to cover their jawline, or find heels that fit, or work up the courage to go out en femme.
I have nothing but sympathy and empathy. I’ve been there, I’m still there. We’ve all been there.
With patience we also need to be gentle to ourselves. I never, ever, ever, ever gave up on Hannah. My first wig was demoralizing. The first time I did my makeup was horrendous. I was as frightened as I could be the first time I went out en femme. The first (or the millionth) time we do something may not go as well as we would like. But keep at it. Please. And be kind and forgiving to yourselves.
But let’s talk about money.
It would be nice if clothes and makeup and breast forms were free buuuuuut they aren’t. Some of the things that I feel I needed (such as forms or makeup lessons) were a one-time investment, if you will. Yes, breast forms and thigh pads are expensive, but with proper care I will never need to purchase them ever again and will have a curvy figure whenever I dress. A quality wig is expensive, but again with proper care it can last for years. Creating a new wardrobe is going to cost money, but you can wear a dress as often as you like. Well, some dresses. I spent a lot of money on a latex dress that tore the first time I wore it out, so that sucked.
And of course, that won’t stop me from buying another latex dress.
My point is that I’ve spent a lot of time and money to get to where I am.
And I bet you have too.
Part of who I am is also about… hm, maintaining my lifestyle, if you will. I do a lot of photo shoots, have a lot of makeovers, and I keep adding to my wardrobe and stiletto collection. It’s expensive.
And I know this is allll self-indulgent. I don’t *need* another dress (I mean, I DO, but you know what I mean). I need to be who I am, but I don’t necessarily need to keep buying clothes.
(Besides, clothes, makeup, forms… none of this is necessary to be feminine. Gender is who you ARE, not what you wear.)
But this is what I chose to do with my money and time. Some of people collect, I don’t know, stamps, some people spend a lot of money on a new fishing pole. I buy pretty dresses.
I think we can all relate to wanting to buy a new outfit or to go somewhere en femme, whether it’s flying pretty or going out to dinner in a little black dress. And yes, sometimes money holds us back. My paycheck needs to cover my expenses, my mortgage, my bills. Sometimes there’s not always room in my bank account for the new dress Hannah wants. Photo shoots and new outfits have to be budgeted for, like anything else.
Every once in a while I get an email from someone asking if they can send money to pay for a photo shoot or an outfit. Usually these requests are very innocent and are well-meaning. The other day someone asked if they could pay for a photo shoot of me in a wedding dress. How fun would that be??
At the same time I’ll get emails asking if they can fund a photo shoot where I am wearing…. well, never mind.
I also have been asked if I’ve ever considered setting up a crowdfund for a photo shoot or something similar. I have been asked if someone could donate to my clothes fund. Sometimes these requests are asking for me to wear a certain outfit. And yes, sometimes the outfits are racier than I am comfortable with, but most of these requests are for clothes I love to wear, like beautiful ballgowns or office attire.
I’ve resisted setting up a Patreon or something similar. My main reason for not doing so is that I am fiercely protective of my male life. I am not aware of any sort of donation app or crowdfunding that would maintain my anonymity. And it makes sense. I mean, if you were going to pledge money you would want to know exactly who it was going to or what organization was going to benefit from your donation.
Another reason I haven’t done this is that I am not sure how much interest there would be from others. This feels self-indulgent especially when there are other organizations that need financial help more than I do.
What are your thoughts? Is this something you would support? If so, any recommendations for donations that would allow me to keep my legal name confidential, at least from people who would potentially donate?
What do you think about the practice of indicating your pronouns (she/her/hers) after your name as is being advocated by many in the queer community? I, and I think like you, consider myself to be bi-gender or gender diverse (and a few other inadequate labels) I enjoy and am comfortable with my male persona but also know how important for my sanity it is to have time and space for Martha – my feminine persona or energy.
So when I sign a note sometimes as Martha I include (she/her/hers) but in truth I wonder if what I should put is (sometimes she/her and sometimes he/his) And maybe I should sign my name Martha/Joe with the above pronouns?
When I am asked to provide my pronouns, I use the terms that align with the gender I am presenting as. So, it is either HE or SHE.
I do feel a twinge of… hm, dishonesty? when I check ‘him’ on a pronoun question as I often think ‘they’ would be a better representation for who I essentially am. My heart, soul, and body houses two genders, so THEY covers both.
But for the most part I present as one gender or the other. My other gender identity is rarely relevant when I am out in the real world. No one really cares or needs to know who HE is when Hannah is present. The opposite is also true, of course.
And yes, normalizing THEY is a positive thing, but I think it would present issues and open the door to conversations I don’t want to have if I identify as THEY to the people in my life that only know me as a HE.
So as far as the majority of the world is concerned, I am, in pronouns or in presentation, HE or SHE.
I absolutely appreciate when someone provides their pronouns, whether it’s on the nametag of a cashier or in the signature of a work email. This says to me “I acknowledge that one’s pronouns aren’t always obvious and I understand that gender is not binary.”
When Hannah is out in the real world, I feel that she is interacting with an ally when one provides their pronouns. I feel safer. One providing their pronouns doesn’t necessarily mean they are queer. Many of my straight/cis gender friends and colleagues have their pronouns on social media or in their professional communication.
Coffee! Girl talk! Looking cute! Is there a better way to spend a Saturday? No, there isn’t.
Yesterday was the monthly MN T-Girls event and after two back-to-back private shopping adventures it was time to slow down and catch up over coffee. Considering how stressful the last few years have been, having coffee at Creators Cup in Saint Paul was the perfect afternoon.
There were about a dozen of us enjoying girl talk over coffee and it… you know? It was just really nice. I needed that. I think a lot of us did.
I am looking for a women’s hair salon for my shorter hair that is transgender friendly.
I am not sure where you live, so I am afraid I can’t recommend a specific salon.
I would suggest looking into salons that are near you that you think you would like to visit. Once you’ve identified a few, reach out to them to see if they offer services for people with short hair. If you wish, you could also simply state, “I am transgender and just want to make sure that’s not an issue for your stylists.” Easy peasy. If it’s an issue, and you’ll be able to tell depending on their reaction, then move on.
I don’t think being trans makes much of a difference in this case. Like skin, hair is hair, regardless of the person’s gender identity.
If there’s an Ulta near you, you may consider them. Many Ulta locations offer salon services including hair and makeup. I’ve never had my hair done by them, but I have had countless makeovers by them and I have always felt welcome there.
I have a deep and emotional connection to clothes. And yes! That is a little shallow, but let me elaborate. The cute purple bodycon dress hanging in my closet? The one I haven’t worn in years? I wore it the first time I went out en femme. The beautiful, floor-length gown that I’ve only worn a few times? It was a gift from my wife. My go-to bra? Whenever I wear it I think about my first lingerie photo shoot. Panties keep me connected to Hannah’s life when I am in boy mode.
I can remember what I wore on most of the significant moments in Hannah’s life. The dress I wore at my first Pride festival. The skirt I wore the first time I went to a mall. I have dresses I am saving for certain occasions, whether it is a gala or simply going out to brunch.
When the pandemic started and I wasn’t going out as much, I bought a dress that I never thought I would have the courage to wear as the straps were quite thin and I felt they showed off my shoulders in a more masculine way than I was comfortable with. But not being able to go out was a reminder that life was short and I needed to do what I wanted while there was still time. I bought the dress, I wore the dress, and it will always represent that there may be a time when I am unable to do what I want and I should live and wear what I choose… without regrets.
Over the last two years, I’ve mostly avoided occasions where large amounts of people gathered, whether it was going to movie or a party. In my boy life, I am not much of a party goer. I like a quiet life. But Hannah is a different story. She’s not much of a partier but goodness does she like dressing up and socializing. Although lockdowns and social distancing prevented her from parties, I never slowed down adding to her wardrobe and buying dresses for a rainy day… or to put it more accurately, buying dresses for a future event.
Some dresses would be saved for a summer day, or an afternoon at the mall when it would be safer to be among a lot of other people. Some dresses were for future, unplanned parties. I would often add a dress to my wardrobe and have a small pang of sadness knowing that I have a perfect dress for a certain occasion, but the occasion couldn’t be planned at the moment. It was a reminder of how much of our lives had changed. So much of our lives were on hold.
I recently added a dress to my wardrobe that is perfect for a party, a party that can’t be planned quite yet, and it symbolizes that better days are coming. Our world, our lives are slowing returning to “normal”. Over the last two years it would often feel that brighter days were so, so far away. But now more than ever, hope is there. The sun will comes out tomorrow, if you will.
Many of my outfits are reminders of past days, previous adventures, significant milestones in my life. This dress, at the risk of sounding over-dramatic, is a reminder that parties, our lives will return.
Please know that I am not trying to gloss over how traumatic and devastating the last the last two years have been, or disregard anyone who is still impacted by the pandemic. We are all, on some level, traumatized by it. We are still, and will be for a long time, impacted by COVID.
Thinking about what I will wear to a party seems shallow in retrospect. But what keeps us going is fantasizing that better days are ahead. Hope keeps me from staying in bed all day. Adding a dress for a day that we dream of coming is the most optimistic thing I can do.
Goodness this is deep for a post about a dress, isn’t it? 🙂
As I looked through the outfits that I would be reviewing for En Femme, I started to think about what event, which occasion each item would be perfect for. The last dress I posted about would be perfect for the office. But this week’s dress? Perfect for the party that is coming, the party that although isn’t on the calendar quite yet, but feels closer than ever.
So, yes, this dress gave me a little hope. Optimism that the things that I previously took for granted, such as dressing up for a night with my friends, are slowing returning.
This dress has an illusion neckline. I love the subtle and sexy see-though that mesh delivers. The dress is short! And I love a short skirt. As a t-girl I used to be self-conscious of my tallness, but I have really come to embrace my height. A tall girl means long legs, and goodness I work hard to keep my legs in shape.
Embracing my long legs was one thing. My shoulders? I still struggle. The last few years I have gotten more secure with them but I still have moments when I feel my arms and frame are too masculine. A dress with sleeves can really make or break how I feel about an outfit. One thing I absolutely appreciate about En Femme’s clothes is that they are designed for my body. If a dress has long sleeves, they are long enough for my arms. If the sleeves are capped, such as on this dress, they are designed to fall where they should. It creates a flattering effect. I love small, subtle details in my clothes. This can be a lacey pattern on my panties, or in this case sleeves that are perfect for my body.
Not only is the skirt complimentary to my legs, it has a nice feminine swish to it. When I stand it falls as it should, but when I sit it drapes itself on my body. And I love that.
As I mentioned, I love subtlety in my clothes. I love a tiny flash of my stockings when I walk. The skirt is short but if I need to be more modest I can do so.
Red is a bold color and goodness you have to be comfortable with drawing attention if you are going to wear it. Keep in mind that I am not saying I am cute by any means, but red will turn heads no matter what. When I selected my heels for this outfit I almost went with red stilettos, but to me the dress is a party dress, so I chose really sparkly heels.
I think red heels and this dress MIGHT be too matchy-matchy for my taste. I also considered really strappy, black stilettos but how often do we have a chance to wear glittery shoes? Not often enough.
I love this dress. I love how it fits, I love how it feels. I love how it made ME feel. The dress inspires daydreams of fancy parties, dressing to the nines, and a part of my life that I miss.
Life is short. Buy the dress. Whether it’s a dress for a day running errands or a cocktail party.
You can add this to your wardrobe and take advantage of a one time discount of 15% off your next purchase by using the code HANNAH15 at checkout.
I am a member of the website crossdressers.com. The other day one of the girls posted that her wife was asking her about drag queens vs. crossdressers. I’ve read in numerous places authors saying that “drag queens are an affront to women” Drag queens are way overboard in everything they do. Hair makeup and dress. No cis girl would make themselves up that way.
Anyways I made that comment and I have taken a beating from other girls on the forum. I made the facts known that 90% of drag queens are gay men and that flip side most cross dressers are hetero. I know that there are exceptions as I have a friend that is gay and when he dresses for drag shows he dresses very contemporary. Just curious as to how you feel on the subject?
I am not a drag queen so I have to be clear that I can’t comment with any sort of authority on drag.
But since you asked…
I think there is a certain element of social commentary on (some) drag. I think exaggeration IS the point in some presentations. Extreme makeup and 7 inch platform heels are not something you see a lot of people wearing… but much of drag is about performance. Being a spectacle.
I don’t think drag artists are trying to communicate a message of “this is what women look like/should look like.” If there is a message when it comes to drag, I think it’s a social commentary relating to ridiculing what society THINKS women SHOULD look like… in a very extreme, satirical way.
But I also think drag is meant to be fun. I don’t think drag is an affront to cis women, but perhaps this question should be posed to cis women.
I personally don’t think drag is supposed to REPRESENT cis women, and I don’t think drag is supposed to REPRESENT trans women either.
I am trans, but not a drag queen, but I think drag DOES fall under the transgender umbrella. It’s an odd Venn diagram.
When most people think of drag, this is the image that they think of:
This is Trixie Mattel, and she looks amazing. Like a lot of drag artists, Trixie is a persona, a character. She is a performer, an artist. To your point, most cis girls don’t look like Trixie, but I don’t think most PEOPLE, regardless of gender, look like her.
But that might be the point. To stand out. Standing out and performing has gone hand in hand since forever. Whether it’s David Bowie or Katy Perry or Lady Gaga or Madonna or Boy George or countless others that have strutted across any type of stage.
Farrah’s makeup is more dramatic than the makeup most women wear at the mall, but in my opinion her look is more “real world” than Trixie’s. I am not throwing shade at anyone, but I think both queens are going for a different look.
I think both Trixie and Farrah both show different aspects of drag. There’s the EXTREME, obviously traditional drag look that Trixie rocks, but there’s also the EXTREME feminine look that Farah has.
And my God, I would love to look half as good as Farrah does.
Are most drag queens gay? Maybe? In my experience every drag queen I have met (when the subject of sexuality has come up) is gay (or at least in a relationship with someone who identifies as the same gender as they do) but I haven’t met every drag queen in the world.
Are most crossdressers straight? Sure, I guess? Like gender, I don’t think sexuality is as binary as most people assume it is. I am bi-gender, so I am at any given moment, male OR female. Sometimes I am one, sometimes I am the other. I prefer to think of my gender in terms of presentation. Yesterday I was a boy all day IF I base my gender identity on what I am wearing. In a few days I am going to be a girl since I will be en femme.
If sexuality is based on current and previous relationship status, then yes, I am straight. I am married to a wonderful woman and all of my romantic partners have been women. So, based on my history, I am straight.
This is not to say that I am not straight or anything. I have never felt any sort of attraction to a man. What I am saying is that I never spent time wondering about my sexuality. Like my gender identity, I am rarely comfortable when it comes to aligning myself in any sort of definitive or absolute way. I tend to vote Democratic but I am not a Democrat. To most of the world I present as male, but I don’t limit myself to just one gender identity.
Again, are most crossdressers straight? I don’t know. When I talk to or exchange emails with men who identify as a crossdresser and marriage is discussed, almost every single one of them says they are married to a woman. So, if sexuality is based on who one is married to or who they are in a relationship with, then yes, I suppose most crossdressers are “straight”. But in a more accurate, specific way, I would say that in my experience, most crossdressers are in a heterosexual relationship.
Of course, I also get emails from crossdressers who tell me they are 1000000000% straight but they sometimes fantasize about having sex with men when they are crossdressed. Guess what? Wearing lingerie did NOT change your sexual identity.
I think there is too much emphasis on committing to a sexual identity. I don’t think ‘straight’ or ‘gay’ or ‘bi’ are that important. I do like ‘queer’, however. It’s vague and inclusive for gender and sexuality. I also don’t think there is a connection between gender and sexual identity. What I wear has absolutely nothing to do with who I am attracted to. Wear what you want, present how you please, sleep with whoever you wish (if it’s consensual), love who you love.
Recently I asked for some feedback on what I write about on my website. This was very enlightening. The comments were helpful and the emails I received were insightful. Most of you enjoy writings about clothes and makeup (no surprise there!) which coincides with what I like to write about. I heart clothes.
Some of you would prefer I stay away from “political” topics. And yes, I don’t want to be wet blanket (or a run in a stocking) but the reality is that there are things that are happening, have happened, and will happen that will impact our lives.
If we want a world where we can move freely through it, if we want a closet full of whatever clothes we want to wear, then we have to create that world. A world that is attempting to pass laws that hurt us, that ostracize us, that shame us, is not the same world that will “let” us wear a skirt.
Politics bore me, they frustrate me. I don’t write “political” posts in an effort to rile anyone up or demonize any “side”. Trust me, the number of angry emails I get and the amount of comments posted that I feel I should delete hardly make topics like these worthwhile.
But this is our reality. We can’t ignore the outside forces that influence what we can and cannot do, feel, or wear.
I can’t imagine ever ceasing posting about legislation that is going to impact us. It would be a wonderful world if these laws weren’t being considered, but that’s not realistic.
My website has always tried to be… hm, honest about our lives. Sometimes this honesty is brutal and difficult to accept. Our partners will not always be excited about our gender identity. The other mall goers will not always be happy we exist. Passing is a myth. Part of our reality is if we want a want the world to stop attacking us (in any way) then we need to accept that how society views us is the first step. If a government is trying to limit access to healthcare, stopping us from using a restroom that aligns with our gender identity, or preventing us from changing our gender on our drivers’ license, the message that these actions are sending is, essentially, being transgender is wrong and we will make your life as difficult as possible.
Your feedback, comments, and emails were, and are always enlightening. I read every single one. My website will always bounce back and forth between superficial posts about how much I love lingerie, self-indulgent pictures from a photo shoot, and the scary laws that are being discussed every single day.
I hope you find what I write about helpful or entertaining. We have a small but passionate community and I hope your comments will always be supportive and constructive.
Okay, let’s move on.
At one point in my life I was secretly trying on my sister’s dress and quickly putting it back as soon as I could before it was noticed to be missing.
At another point in my life I was discreetly wandering through the lingerie department of stores hoping no would notice that I was casually, but intently, looking at panties.
Fast forward a few years, I walked into an LGBTQIA+ nightclub, completely en femme for the first time, absolutely terrified that someone would recognize me.
There are countless instances when I prayed I wouldn’t be seen. I lived a life in secret, even when I was out in the real world. I was ignored, I was stared at, I was ridiculed, I was whispered about.
I felt like an outsider. It was lonely. No one, for good or for bad, paid attention to me.
I never set out to be anyone but myself, even without the support (and least of all the approval) of the rest of the world. I felt if the world didn’t understand me, then at least the world could leave me alone. It was, on some level, a silent compromise.
As time marched on, people like myself started to get noticed. This happened in devastating extremes. On one hand, I learned there were others like myself. I felt less alone. At the same time, other people learned of our existence, if you will. And that brought a world of problems.
People like myself were labeled as deviants and perverts. We were thought of as being confused and delusional. We were thought of as being worse things than these.
We were dragged (or perhaps kicking and screaming) into the spotlight. We became a joke, we became a lightning rod for controversary. We became political. We became a fetish. Politicians and talk-show hosts shaped the narrative of who a trans person is. We were pulled out of the shadows and we blinked back tears of frustration and rage of being told that we were freaks.
Necessity is the mother of invention. Queer people had to become activists. We had to become advocates. We had to fight for ourselves and for those who couldn’t. We had to defend ourselves. We had to go on television, we had to write into newspapers, we had to demonstrate. We needed to fight for our survival.
Trans people didn’t make gender identity political. It was thrust upon us. At one point many of us were just living our own private lives and although lonely, we weren’t being attacked on the evening news.
In recent years trans people have becomes more visible and more represented. We have a voice though it is often drowned out. We have more support and tolerance than I could have dreamed, but we also have more people who wish us (and do) harm than ever before.
I know it’s not realistic for EVERYONE to like EVERYONE. I know that gender identity is a difficult thing to understand. But I don’t want to be understood. I don’t need to be. I don’t expect to be. I don’t expect or need to understand anyone else, either. What most people do or think is none of my business, after all.
I don’t want to be an activist. But I think I have to be. I would rather write about panties and lingerie and clothes. I write about legislation and social issues because this is the world that our community lives in. I get a lot of emails asking why the world doesn’t accept us. It’s pretty easy to find the answer when you realize that people like us are demonized and sexualized. Other emails ask why there aren’t many “crossdresser friendly” stores. Again, the answer is clear when you think about how many people are told to be terrified of trans people using the restroom. So many of these emails want the world to be safe for us, they want to world to change.
In order for something to change on a social level, it needs to change on a legal, political level.
Look, as much as I want to write about shopping and dresses and as badly as I want for all of us to be able to wear whatever we want, we need to acknowledge where we are and how we are viewed by much of the world.
If we want to wear what we want, if we want to go out en femme, if we want the world to not care about our gender identity, then we HAVE to fight back against the narrative that is being espoused. We can’t let laws that discriminate us get passed. These laws lead people to believe that we are, well, perverts and confused.
I want us all to go the mall without anyone staring at us. I want us all to step into the ladies room to reapply our lipstick without worrying about the panic politicians ignite about trans women in restrooms. I want people to stop thinking about sex and genitals when it comes to gender.
This world is not going to change soon. Not in my lifetime. But the world is not going to change without our help, without our insistence.
This change doesn’t necessarily come from making a sign and demonstrating. It can come from something as small as voting. It can come from being simply being visible. When I run errands en femme I am not an activist in the traditional sense. It’s more subtle. Hopefully I can change the perspective of a cashier or someone at Starbucks that trans people not only exist but we are a lot more boring and normal than they were led to believe. If I can do that, perhaps they will reconsider their opinion about girls like us.
Of course, that is overly optimistic but I could use some optimism these days.