The Thief of Joy

They say that comparison is the thief of joy and although I do like being verbose and I agree with the statement, I am not crazy about the wording of it. And I don’t necessarily know why. But that’s not the point.

What the statement means to me is that if you compare yourself to someone else then all that energy takes away the fun, the uniqueness, the YOUness of who you are.

But seeing how you measure up is kind of ingrained in our lives these days. At my job we are reminded of our metrics constantly. My manager is always showing my team our rankings in terms of who is on top, who is behind. He thinks it motivates us. He is wrong.

Social media tracks our followers, our likes, our everything. Sometimes I am impressed with how many followers I have on Twitter, but then I see another girl with like a zillion fans and I am reminded I am just a small fish in a giant ocean.

It’s easy to feel discouraged when so many aspects of our lives have a numerical value associated with it. I might be having a good day at work and then my boss tells me that based on last quarter’s numbers (or whatever) I need to step up or something.

Most of the time I don’t care. BUT this post is about the times when I DO care.

I suppose “care” isn’t the right word. Perhaps jealousy is a better phrase.

If a t-girl has a lot more followers than I do (not that social media followers are anything to base one’s self worth on) I usually speculate why that is. Sometimes they are incredibly charming and funny so it’s easy to see why they have so many fans. Sometimes they post a lot of, well, sexually explicit pictures of themselves and that can usually increase one’s followers.

It’s not unusual for another t-girl to be more… hm, charismatic than myself. I like to think that I am a little clever but goodness there are some very hilarious and interesting t-girls out there. I can’t compare with them. So, I don’t get tooooo discouraged when I see their massive (and well earned) follower count.

Posting sexually charged pictures or nudity can appeal to a LOT of people. And that’s okay. People can post what they want and people can follow who they please. If a t-girl has a zillion followers AND they usually only post nudity then it’s not unreasonable to assume that this content is what is driving their follower count.

I can’t compare my social media followers with someone like that. I am not going to post sexually explicit pictures or whatever. My content is different than their content. IF I was also ALSO posting pictures like that THEN I might feel different about their higher follower number.

Of course, it’s not fair to assume that their fans are their fans ONLY because of that type of content.

When I feel jealous of another t-girl, it helps when I dive in a little deeper and try to look at things from a different perspective. My jealousy isn’t limited to just the number of Twitter followers they have. It’s usually associated with, well, how much cuter, how much more femme they are compared to me.

This is a good moment to remind all of us (myself included) that no one is in competition with each other. There are no standards or expectations for femininity. No one is more femme than another.

…but I think you know what I mean.

I will never ever say that Hannah is more feminine than anyone. That’s not polite or measurable. All that matters is how content that person is with who they. Some of us love dresses and makeup and stilettos. I know I do. I am drawn to these items AND I love how they make me look and how they make me feel. Others love a more casual look, jeans and the like. Using myself as an example, I feel both pictures below can represent femininity.

When I am really feeling myself I pride myself on my presentation especially in light of my physical attributes. Again, this is diving into gender binary standards and again, there are no standards and again, I think you know what I mean.

If a character in a movie is meant to be feminine, there are usually portrayed by a petite woman, softer features, a heart-shaped face, and pretty clothes. A feminine character in a movie does not look like me. They might dress like me, but I have broad shoulders, a square jawline, and huge hands. And I am very tall. I have more physical characteristics in common with the lead actor than the lead actress.

But despite these standards being drilled into our heads from the moment we are born, I have overcome thinking I NEED to look a certain way to present femme. I can make all of THIS work in a way that makes me very happy and feel very femme, shoulders be damned.

My feeling of feeling femme and looking femme is not in competition with anyone… except myself, perhaps. Personally I feel I look more femme than I did ten years ago.

I am completely happy and satisfied and content who I am and how I look.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t get jealous sometimes.

Social media can be soul-crushing at times. When I see another t-girl on Twitter that is incredibly cute I can get pretty jealous. I wish I looked that good, that cute, that beautiful en femme.

To clarify, I don’t wish I looked like her 24/7. I just wish I looked as stunning as she does when I am en femme.

But I don’t hate on them. I am not catty or bitchy towards them. If I am feeling jealous it’s not her problem, it’s my own.

Seeing a beautiful t-girl used to trigger dysphoria or feelings of insecurity. Thankfully those moments have, for the most part, passed. On my good days, a pretty t-girl inspires me.

I hate feeling jealous. It takes a lot of effort for me to move on from feeling envious. Sometimes I am able to let it go by just… reminding myself how fortunate I am to have the life, the wardrobe that I do… as well as the body that I have. There really isn’t a physical feature that I have which I absolutely hate. I used to hate how tall I am when I am en femme. These days my height doesn’t bother me and on my good days I am absolutely in love with how tall Hannah is. I also remind myself how damn lucky I am to be able-bodied.

But there are two things that help my jealousy. One is more cerebral, the other is I suppose, is more spiritual.

The cerebral perspective is absolutely more logical. If I see a stunning t-girl either online or a t-girl I know in real life and, well, if they look more femme than I do, I need to remember three things:

  1. There’s not a competition when it comes to being femme
  2. There are no standards when it comes to what is what isn’t femme
  3. IF I feel the need to measure myself up to another girl, am I being fair to myself?

The first item is pretty straightforward. I cringe when girls like us gloat about how much feminine they are compared to their wives. It’s not a contest and yes, almost every crossdresser and t-girl on the planet has more stilettos and dresses than their spouse.

The second point is something I’ve written about before.

But the third is a rare instance of me being a little less harsh on myself. I am not sure if I would call myself competitive but I do hold myself to pretty high expectations and standards. What I mean is that I always try to do my best in whatever I do and I tend to get frustrated when I am doing ANYTHING and I know I have the potential to do better at it.

I try to measure myself by comparing myself to, well, myself.

In my male life, if I do something and it doesn’t turn out the way that I hoped I ask myself if I could have done it better. And I try to be as objective and as realistic as possible. If I do admit to myself that yes, I could have done it better I will either redo it or do it to my full potential in the future.

And that’s usually the end of that.

It’s not as easy for Hannah to move on, if I am being honest.

When I say I get jealous it’s less about being bitchy or wanting to cut down the t-girl that is cuter or more femme than I think I am. It’s more about wanting to look as beautiful as they are.

When I am en femme I try to look as, well, as good as possible. But I can only do what I can with what I have to work with. And for the most part I am very happy and content with my presentation. I know that I am living up to my femme potential, if you know what I mean. My makeup is as contoured as it can get, my corset is as cinched as it can be without doing harm, and I am as tucked as a girl can be.

And everything is great.

And then I see another t-girl, either online or a member of the MN T-Girls. Bam! Jealousy.

To be clear, it’s not that I want to look as beautiful as they do, I want to look as beautiful as they are… when I am en femme. I wish I had that potential.

The cerebral side needs to be engaged to help with my envy. To be clear, my jealous needs to be tamed so I can stop, well, beating myself up. I don’t think I let my jealousy impact my interaction with a prettier t-girl, but I need to control the downward spiral of a self-deprecating self-esteem.

Essentially I ask myself (and of course I need to actually LISTEN to myself) why does she look so pretty? How is it possible she can be so femme?

Many of us are just blessed, I suppose. Some of us just have a more femme face or a smaller frame or can wear a size 8 heel. Genetics or luck is on their side.

I can’t do anything about my body. This is where the spiritual side comes in but more on that later.

Some t-girls take their presentation to a level that I am not on. It’s usually a level I have no interest in moving to. What I mean is that some of us take estrogen or t-blockers or have medical and surgical procedures to help their body align with how they see themselves.

If I am feeling jealous of a t-girl I need to tell myself that I simply can’t compare my femme-ness with a t-girl that has had facial feminization surgery or a trachea shave. I can’t compare myself to a t-girl that has been taking hormones for three years.

I mean, of course these girls are going to look more femme than me. Under all of my shapewear and padding and forms I have the physical body of a cisgender man in his late forties.

I can only do so much. And the majority of the time I am absolutely over the moon with what I CAN do with what I have.

And honestly? As shallow as all of this is, it helps. Of course, I still need to get a handle on my envy when I see girls like Heidi Phox who, as far as I know, hasn’t had any work done (if you will) but that’s another topic for another day.

As for the aforementioned spiritual perspective…

I am not a religious person but I was raised Catholic. I can still recite the prayers that we were taught as I grew up. One prayer that I always liked and to this day is still, well, comforting is what is usually called the serenity prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

And I am sure some might think this is blasphemous but I apply this perspective to my femme presentation in addition to other aspects of my life.

But isn’t that the point of some prayers? To be able to find relevance in one’s life and experience?

I need to accept the fact that there is not anything I can do outside of medical help about my body. I mean, I can impact my body weight but I am probably going to be a size 12 stiletto for the rest of my life and will likely have my broad shoulders for a very long time.

I need to let it go. I can’t stress about my masculine frame in comparison to, well, any girl.

I CAN focus on what I CAN change. I CAN improve my makeup skills, for example. When I finally met my idol Sybil last month she inspired me to up my game with my eyeshadow. A perfect example of envy leading to inspiration. Doing this might involve a private makeup lesson which at one time would have been a very brave thing to do and very much out of my comfort zone. But, you know, courage to change the things I can change…

And then there’s wisdom. There are things I can change. I can (and do) shave my body hair, I can practice walking in stilettos, I can invest in a high quality wig… things that I personally help me feel feminine (not that one needs these things to BE femme, mind you).

I can’t change the size of my hands, my feet, my face. I have to make it work.

And whether I make all of THIS work is a personal perspective. I am not sure if I look femme to YOU or anyone else. But really, someone else’s opinion of me isn’t really relevant. I LIKE how I look. I am (almost) always happy and content with my mirror’s reflection.

I suppose I will always have flashes of jealousy. It’s how I react to that feeling is what matters. If feeling envy made me rude or bitchy to another girl or intimidated by them, well, that would be a problem and something I would want to change. But I think that, for the most part, my jealousy can quickly turn to being inspired.

Love, Hannah

4 thoughts on “The Thief of Joy

  1. No doubt once we decide to be that girl inside we all have the desire to be as fem and as pretty as the girls we see online or even those we see in public, usually or mostly cis gendered
    I know I wanted to be so cute and fem when I started to put on makeup and other such feminine attire but as you say my male body was in the way
    I’ve never done to many enhancements such ad hip pads or such but then once I knew I had to get out into the real world as Rachael I had to look the part as best I could
    Yes I always felt at first inadequate, but the more I went out the more comfortable I became with just being the best me I could be.
    The reason was looking at real cis women I realized they all come in different shapes sizes and looks. So I knew if I could improve my makeup and yes began to use breast forms and such I could be out looking as fem as I could
    Do I pass? Only in that quick glance but close up no.

    Great thoughts Hannah


  2. Brilliant article, and so inspiring for.a newbie. If Claire ever looks as femme as you, she will be delighted. Just starting this journey, and I want you to know that you’re an inspiration. Thank you so much.


  3. It’s good to remember that how we see ourselves is very different to how others see us. Even now there are times when I look in a mirror and can only see the prop forward shoulders and the Dan Dare chin. I feel as though I tower over other women even when wearing seekers, but only at last night’s rehearsal a friend commented that I wasn’t even in the half dozen tallest women in our band.


  4. The gender binary was created to reinforce our roles in society. These roles have become an anachronism. Why shouldn’t there be space available in my role as a male to be feminine? Why is being feminine as a male limited to designing draperies and writing poetry? Cis-women get to decide every day just how feminine to present themselves. I know women who love being pretty and spend an hour on hair and makeup every day. Conversely I know women who don’t even own a dress and would rather be mountain biking than getting glam. If being “feminine “ in the conventional sense is not a requirement of being female anymore, why is being male a reason to reject being conventionally feminine? Every time I go out dressed fully feminine, I’m showing that I reject that binary. I’m reassuring other males who might be inclined to see how delightful it is to be skirted and made up pretty that it’s ok to feel this way. The fact that I don’t pass makes it all the more sharply focused.

    Liked by 1 person

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