Human

Thiiiiiiiiiis is going to sound incredibly arrogant and vain.

But here we go.

I tend to think of myself as somewhat self-aware. I am aware of the impact I have on people. To be clear, I am not saying or thinking that I am an AMAZING person that creates a magical and unforgettable experience with those I interact with. What I mean is that I am a t-girl who is over six feet tall (without heels), wearing a cute dress and is in line at the coffee shop.

I’m a patron that you will probably notice. Forget blending in, I stand out.

Not because that I think I am beautiful. Not at all. Again, I am a six foot tall trans girl. People will likely notice me. And that’s just fine. I am confident and comfortable with who I am.

I kind of think all t-girls have to be self-aware, though. It’s, in a way, necessary for survival. Whether I am walking in a parking lot or wandering around a mall I am keeping an eye on those who are, well, keeping an eye on me.

Sometimes it’s the person who is staring at me with daggers in their eye. Sometimes it’s a police officer. Sometimes it’s a little kid who might be trying to, well, figure me out.

We need to anticipate… well, a lot of things. That dude over there that is looking at me? Is it because he is staring at my legs or because he wants to stab me? Yes, both are pretty extreme scenarios but if he is giving off stabby vibes I need to remove myself from the situation.

Paranoia is survival.

Where was I? Oh, being self-aware.

See, now I am being self-aware of my tendency to become distracted and get off topic, lol.

After over ten years of having a website in some form or another, and with having a social media presence, I have to admit that I am, for better or for worse, a public figure. Not because I am “famous” or anything, but the longevity of how long I have been blogging and the abundance of posted photos it’s not uncommon to, well, gain attention.

And I admit, a lot of the attention I generate is intentional.

Not something I necessarily set out initially to do but I am, for the most part, fine with it. It’s opened up opportunities like modeling or reviewing clothes which leads to new adventures and experiences. So, it’s been fun. It’s also opened up some creepy moments with horny guys but, well, it’s still worth it.

As the years have progressed (and here’s where the arrogance might shine through) I have received a lot of very nice emails and comments and messages. Some have thanked me for writing something they have identified with or thanking me for providing a resource for anything from counseling to where to buy stilettos. Some emails have been, well, um, fan mail.

These emails make me feel a little… I don’t know. I don’t want to seem ungrateful. Please don’t misunderstand. I am incredibly flattered and absolutely touched by them. I feel happy and a little silly, I suppose. When I think of who I am a fan of, whether it’s Taylor Swift or Dita Von Teese or Heidi Phox, I think about how they inspire me or make me happy or, when it comes to Ms. Von Teese or Ms. Phox, how incredibly jealous I am of them. They inspire me. To speculate that someone thinks of me the way I think of those girls? I mean, wow. That is… that is hard for me to comprehend.

I don’t think of myself as famous or someone who is, um, qualified to write a fan letter to. I am just me, the girl who tears stockings every time I dress up or the girl who can’t get her eyeliner to match.

I shrug off any sort of suggestion that I am famous. It’s a little weird to think that for someone like me, for someone who is as flawed and as ordinary as I am, is thought of as… well, someone to be admired.

I don’t think of what I do or who I am as anything amazing. Because of this self-awareness, I have a very hard time thinking that others might, well, be a fan.

And gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah how I hated writing that last sentence.

When someone writes something that is… well, along those lines I think of how flawed I am and how normal my life is. The other day some dude on Twitter sent me a message calling me a goddess. While I was reading that I was picking out laundry detergent at Target.

I recalled the lyrics to “Extraordinary” by Liz Phair:

So I still take the trash out
Does that make me too normal for you?

Every person on the planet is… a person. It may be hard to believe. I mean, Dita Von Teese? My idol. She is everything I want to look like. But her legal first name is Heather. Heather pays her bills and does normal things like shopping for laundry detergent at Target. On one hand it’s… unbelievable that my idol does mortal human things, but… well, she’s also a person.

Having a celebrity idol can lead to obsession but I think for the most part it’s usually pretty harmless and can be fulfilling. It’s nice to look forward to a new song by your favorite musician or a new movie starring your favorite actress.

Sometimes a band can save a life. And that sounds a little extreme but I think it’s not uncommon for someone to be at a low point in their life but… well, they hear a song and it helps them get through it. Maybe it leads to them developing an interest in music, finding a new hobby. A new reason to live.

Yes, you might be rolling your eyes at this but not if this, or something similar, has happened to you.

We as people just want to feel less alone, I think. It’s comforting when we realize that others feel the same way we do or did.

At any rate, some people are so grateful for what a public figure has done for them it may lead to that person wanting to, well, thank them in a fan letter or tag them on social media.

Sometimes we want a… token of that person. It never ceases to amaze me when you hear of an auction selling a piece of some actor’s hair or whatever.

But… I kind of get it. I understand souvenirs. I understand a physical thing representing a moment in a life. It can be my wedding ring symbolizing the love of my life. It can be a thank you gift of the tiny Eiffel Tower model a former student gave me when they went to Paris when they studied abroad as part of the program I helped them get accepted to. I can’t remember the student’s name but the Eiffel Tower has been on my desk for over ten years.

Listen.

I need to reiterate that I know ALL of this sounds egotistical. And it’s going to continue to do so. Please understand I don’t think of myself as extraordinary. But I understand that some people do.

This understanding, and my reluctant and disbelieving acceptance, has been happening for a few years. Very kind and enthusiastic emails, for example. Sometimes other t-girls ask to take their picture with me.

It’s all… very new and strange to me. But I smile for the camera and I reply thank you in an email. I am too polite to say no, I suppose.

But I don’t say yes to everything obviously. Over the years I have been asked for signed photos and have had people asking to buy me a dress. I’ve always said no. These requests are likely sincere and genuine… but saying yes to these things is… well, it’s a new level in understanding and accepting that some people look at me in a similar way I look at Heidi Phox or Stana.

I’m not amazing like my idols. I can’t imagine putting myself in that pantheon.

But some do. And it’s… well, it’s just…. I don’t know.

I HATE saying no to someone asking for an autograph. I HATE telling someone that I don’t want them to send me a gift card so I can treat myself to a new dress. Again, I don’t want to be rude. If someone wants to do something nice, as long as they truly and sincerely want to I think it’s almost… impolite to say no.

I mean, you should ALWAYS say NO if you don’t want to DO something. Know your boundaries and expect others to respect them.

When I was younger I went to a lot of concerts. Sometimes I would wait outside the venue hoping to meet the band. I wanted to thank them for their music, maybe take a photo with them, perhaps get my CD signed by them.

When these things happened, well, it was amazing. Having a chance to tell a songwriter how much their music meant to me was incredible. Having books signed by my favorite authors are things I will treasure for the rest of my life.

But not every musician or author was keen on selfies or signing things. I can recall moments when musicians I loved telling me they don’t give autographs. My heart sunk. Some authors don’t want to meet their readers.

And, well, that’s understandable. Some people don’t want to be “famous”. Some people are not comfortable with being treated like someone that is, well, admired.

As disappointing as it was to be told by band members they don’t give autographs I would (eventually) understand how important (and likely difficult) it was that they were setting boundaries. The power of NO is unmatched.

I still get requests for things. People wanting to send gifts or financially support me in some way. I still say no.

But a few weeks ago someone asked for a signed photo. These requests happen from time to time but… I don’t know, this felt a little different. Instead of saying no I exchanged a few emails with him. I did this to, well, make sure he wasn’t a psycho or a pervert, lol.

Honestly he seemed like a gentleman (and I don’t have too many gentlemen emailing me, to be honest) and was very polite and respectful. He seemed a little sheepish to ask for this.

He asked for a specific photo and I was expecting a lingerie picture or something fetishy but this is what he asked for:

I wasn’t expecting the requested photo to be of me fully clothed so… I really couldn’t see the harm in it. I suppose part of me recalled being turned down by someone I admired for an autograph.

So, I said okay.

Since then I have… started to let others do things for me. Gift cards and the like. I feel… conflicted and still a little weird and unworthy and silly and self conscious…

But.

Saying yes seems to make people very happy. A thank you gift for something I wrote that helped them. A gift of appreciation for what I do. A simple Christmas present.

It’s all very new to me.

It’s also… well, something I should be careful of. I don’t ever want to, for lack of a better phrase, believe my own hype. If someone thinks I am a goddess, well, okay. But I don’t want to ever agree with them. I take out the trash, I shop for laundry detergent, I have a boring legal name. I run stockings and teeter in stilettos and sometimes can’t clasp my bra behind my back.

I could go on.

Thankfully there are a lot of things that keep me humble. It might be a hideous selfie or not being able zip up a dress. I also do a lot of mundane everyday things that keep me grounded. It’s an… experience to read an email from someone telling me that I am beautiful while I am on the phone getting yelled at by my boss at the same time.

The world keeps my ego in check.

I’ve written before about being an accidental activist but I suppose I am also a reluctant public figure.

Please understand.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I am… blown away by this generosity. Getting an email from someone telling me they would love to buy me a dress that I tweeted about is….overwhelming.

I’m afraid of coming off as… being passive aggressive? Mm, not quite the right word but I don’t want to come off as I am dropping hints? Posting about a cute lingerie set is, well, it’s just me Tweeting about a new bra and panty set from Xdress.com. I am not signaling that I want someone to buy it for me. Does that make sense?

I am feeling very self-conscious and self-aware so let’s wrap it up.

Love, Hannah

3 thoughts on “Human

  1. At the risk of using a modern phrase – and one that may be used for comedy, but I do mean this with kindness: “There’s a lot to unpack there.”

    Perhaps an author might say they just write stories, a stand-up tells jokes, etc. For folk who may not have that gift, or perhaps have the gift but not the confidence, why wouldn’t someone be inspired by another? Okay, there’s levels between inspiration, heroes, and idols.

    If someone reads your post about you looking forward to buying something new, does that say more about them wanting to treat you or gain favour? Should you add some ground rules about gifting and what you do and don’t accept or do?

    Lastly, and cheekily, if recieving a gift card pushes your guilt button, what if the donation was to a charity of your choice?

    Like

  2. I’ve noticed lately that you’ve been more open to gift cards and the like, and was wondering “what changed?”

    Perhaps look at it this way. Lots of people get paid for what they write; book authors, journalists, substack bloggers, and a ton of others.

    It’s also about building a “brand” and that has led you to commercial opportunities, endorsements and the like (and your “brand” is such personally I’ve bought three items that you have blogged about).

    I would say you have “earned” the pay given the ten years or so you have built a following. On the flip side, the “reward” for having to deal with some of the seedier requests.

    But at the end of the day I remember being at a store and an SA saying “I want to see you in this” and that absolutely making my day. Your readers (some of them) are saying the same thing.

    On a smaller scale, I volunteer for a sport for a high school team. At the end of the year I received thank you cards that included some cash and an Amazon gift card. The players didn’t need to do that–but that didn’t stop me from buying some new earrings and a sequin dress I wore on New Year’s Eve, to rave reviews.

    There are lots of readers you would love to be on the receiving end of gift cards to buy cute stuff. Quit thinking and just enjoy.

    Dee

    Liked by 1 person

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