I think a lot of us can relate to the duality that our lives have. Of course there is the duality in gender identities. If I want to get overly specific, I identify as bi-gender. I have two sections in my closet, two different social media profiles, two different email addresses, two different lives.
There is very little overlap. Both of my lives have different friends and very, very, very few people in “our” world know about HIM and HER.
The differences that my two lives have are significant. My boy clothes tend to be very casual and comfortable. I am not trying to stand out. I dress for the occasion (whether running errands or going into the office) but I could care less if someone thinks I am a good dresser.
The contrast in Hannah’s appearance is on another world entirely. This is not to say that she is OMG SO FREAKING BEAUTIFUL. No. As egotistical and as shallow as I appear to be, I am very self-conscious and can easily and quickly be (and often harshly) humbled. It doesn’t take much for me to knocked down a few rungs. Truly, I am often knocked off the ladder entirely.
If you’ve spent any time on this website, you probably have seen at least one photo of Hannah. Aaaand more than likely I am wearing a cute dress in full, very bold makeup. I stand out. Again, not because I am OMG SO FREAKING BEAUTIFUL but Hannah is likely one of the few girls at the mall or anywhere in heels and a dress.
I feel I should mention that Hannah wearing a dress or a heels when most girls may not be doesn’t make her any more femme than any other woman. It’s not a contest.
This significant contrast in my life/lives is more than just clothes and presentation. It also spills into social interaction. As the boy rushes through his errands he just wants to do what he needs to do and get back home. No chit-chat, no lingering, just rush rush rush and leave.
This is not to say he is rude or that he is a total dick. I am polite and friendly (I hope), but I am on a mission. And yes, sometimes that mission is picking up a prescription or mailing a package. EPIC adventures, I tell you.
Hannah is more in the moment. She is not out in the real world as much as HE is, so she soaks up the day, the simplicity of wandering around a store or chatting with the coffee shop employee.
Annnnd some of this is… hm, intentional.
As a member of the trans community, I am aware of the responsibilities (if you will) we have when it comes to representing the T in LGBTQIA+. These are not responsibilities we wanted or asked for of course. They were more or less thrust upon us because of who we are.
Too often over my lifetime I’ve heard things like “Gay guys are assholes. I used to work with one and he was such a prick.” “My sister is a lesbian and believe me, all lesbians are man-hating bitches”. People often base their opinion of an entire community off of one interaction with someone from that same community.
Anyone from the LGBTQIA+ community already has an uphill battle. Many people already have a negative view, opinion, perspective on us. Queer people are perverts, freaks, and worse, according to too many people.
As someone who is visibly trans I am fully aware than when someone sees Hannah they are likely thinking “that person is trans”. And that’s understandable. When I see someone I think similar things. “That person has red hair.” “That person uses a wheelchair.” “That person is wearing a t-shirt for a band that I like.” You can’t help but notice and think something based on your first interaction with them.
But what happens next, what happens with that information, is what matters.
I will never know what everyone thinks when they see Hannah, but I assume it’s one of three things”
“That person is transgender and their gender identity has absolutely no impact on my life or how I will interact with them on any level.”
“That person is transgender and I want to do what I can to make them feel welcome and accepted.”
“That person is transgender and I HATE them and I will do whatever I can to make to make them aware of how I feel.”
These are overly simplistic but I think that they cover the basics.
Since I am aware some people paint those in the LGBTQIA+ community with a very broad brush, I want to be a positive representative of trans people. Some people choose to form a negative opinion of the queer community based on one interaction with one person from the queer community. I am hoping that the opposite is also true.
This is overly optimistic, but I hope that if I am friendly and chatty (basically, not creepy or bitchy) to someone, they may start to think that trans people aren’t *that* bad, that MAYBE trans people are just people trying to live their lives. Maybe that person WON’T vote for the candidate that wants to eradicate the trans community.
Again, this is overly optimistic, however there’s nothing wrong with this. Perhaps a little naïve but I’ll take it.
Anyway, Hannah being friendly has, for lack of a better term, somewhat of an “agenda”, to be a positive representative of the trans community. Please understand, I am not saying I am speaking for the entire community. But on some level, trans people are ambassadors, if you will. We have to be. We are expected to be.
But this friendliness is not insincere. Hannah is absolutely happy with being in the real world doing real world things. It’s a nice break from the boy life of Zoom meetings and running reports.
When the boy isn’t overwhelmed with work, he tends to recharge by staying home, reading books, having a quiet evening with his wife, and going on walks.
Hannah recharges in different ways. Shopping, spending time at a museum, and meeting up the MN T-Girls.
The social aspect of a t-girl is… well, I think it’s crucial. It’s important for girls like us to be friends with girls like us. No one can relate to us like another t-girl. When I have come out to people in my boy life I have to patiently and painstakingly explain the nuances of my gender identity. This is often along the lines of “I am transgender BUT…” and “I feel comfortable and secure and like myself when I am in a dress HOWEVER…”.
These BUTS and HOWEVERS and IFS and SOMETIMES can be confusing to someone else. From someone else’s perspective my gender identity/identities can seem inconsistent and scattershot and contradictory. And yes, I get that. Perspective on gender is often influenced by someone’s experience. For a lot of people the only trans people they are familiar with are celebrities who have transitioned. Therefore the assumption is that ALL trans people are/will/have transitioned. But of course this isn’t the case.
Since coming out can often come with a very long and exhausting lesson and explanation in gender, I rarely have the energy, time, or patience to do so. It’s like… having to show someone at work how to do something. You start to explain it but quickly realize it’s easier and quicker to do the task yourself. It’s not always worth it to spend the time to walk someone else through it.
But girls like us understand girls like us. I mean, we don’t understand WHY we are who we are, but we understand that… well, we are who we are. We understand the complexities, the simplicities, the joys, the nuances, the frustrations, the buts, howevers, if, and sometimes.
Befriending another t-girl or even just realizing there are others like us is a wonderful feeling. It’s like finding a pair of pink stilettos that fit like a dream.
Making friends is how the isolation we feel begins to erode. We go through too many years keeping our thoughts and feelings and clothes to ourselves. We bottle up our desires, our dreams, our emotions, our fears. We have to…. especially if we feel no one else would understand or accept us.
No friendships form faster than the one between two t-girls. We find someone else like us and the dam just bursts. All of our thoughts, feelings, EVERYTHING just pours out. We have someone safe we can talk to. Someone who gets it, someone who can relate, someone who won’t judge. One of the joys of organizing events for the MN T-Girls is listening to two members who have never met before but after a couple of minutes they are deep into heavy conversation…. conversations about gender and identity that have been building for decades.
I know some of you are lonely. I can relate. This side of us is often isolating. A beautiful dress can bring us an immeasurable amount of joy but we can sometimes feel a pang of sadness. Yes, the dress may be stunning but we may not feel ready to go out en femme. We may feel ready to come out as trans, but we might not feel we have anyone to come out TO.
You are not alone. You never have been. I know it feels that way sometimes. There are more people out there LIKE you than you realize. There are more people out there that can relate and understand and accept you than you could dream. Hopefully someday you’ll meet them.