I’m looking for a transformation studio in the Chicago area. Any suggestions?
I was expecting to find more options in Chicago, but Google only provided a few studios (that are still operating anyway).
Anyone out there know of others?
I’m looking for a transformation studio in the Chicago area. Any suggestions?
I was expecting to find more options in Chicago, but Google only provided a few studios (that are still operating anyway).
Anyone out there know of others?
Trans Lifeline is a national trans-led 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of trans lives by responding to the critical needs of our community with direct service, material support, advocacy, and education. Our vision is to fight the epidemic of trans suicide and improve overall life-outcomes of trans people by facilitating justice-oriented, collective community aid.
Need to talk? Call! Our peer support hotline is run by and for trans people. We’re available 7am-1am PST / 9am-3am CST / 10am-4am EST. Volunteers may be available during off hours.
If you or someone you know needs to talk, please call.
I have been asked by a clinical psychology doctoral student at Adelphi University, a private university in New York, to invite members of our community to participate in a research project titled “Trans Self-Efficacy and Well-Being.” The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between trans well-being and self-efficacy (an individual’s belief in their ability to achieve goals). This project additionally explores political activism and psychotherapy experiences.
If you identify as trans, are at least 18 years old, and reside in the U.S. you are eligible to participate in this online survey. The survey may take an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes to complete.
If you would like to help in this research, please visit the survey here.
Being very active and visible on social media can leave one open to comments, direct messages, and emails. I post a lot of photos on my website and Flickr and I read every single comment. I also get a lot of messages, most of which I reply to. Many of the comments and messages are very nice and polite, but there are some that are very sexual and disturbing. Men will contact me or comment with what they would like to do with (or to) me. These desires can range from anything from wanting to buy me lingerie to sucking my toes (gross) to having sex with me (also gross).
These comments are unsolicited and are not responded to.
These comments are not flattering or affirming.
These comments do not make me feel beautiful or desired.
I ignore them, but they will often linger in my head for a while before I can push them out of my mind. I do not invite or deserve these disturbing and sexual communications.
Right now some people might be rolling their eyes and thinking this is what I get for posting photos like these:
Yes, I know this photo is very much on the sultry side, but even if I was lying on a bed wearing nothing except a thong, overtly sexual messages and comments are not appropriate nor are they warranted.
It’s not okay to blame the victim of any harassment or point to what a girl was wearing and thinking that she “invited” these comments, or opened herself up to inappropriate messages.
Comments like these are not uncommon to women. T-Girls often get messages (sexual and otherwise) from “chasers”, a term to describe men who fetishize and seek out transwomen specifically.
Yes, I know. Not All Men. Not all men send explicit messages or write or say sexual comments to women. Let’s get that out of the way. I don’t want a flood of emails telling me that not all guys are creeps. I know that. And yes, I know that some men think they are paying me a compliment but telling me that they fantasize about me or that I…ah, arouse them is not okay. Telling me that I am beautiful is one thing. Telling me what you want to do with, or to me, is not.
It’s easier to ignore creeps online. Twitter makes it easy to block or mute people, for example. In the real world it’s much harder and much scarier. The first time a man approached me in public was about six years ago. I had just gotten a makeover and was wearing a bright red dress and red patent heels. Again, it doesn’t matter what I was wearing but I remember my outfit because I felt really good that night. I looked good. It was a long week and I was happy to be out on a Saturday night. My dress was new, my makeup looked amazing.
I was meeting some friends at a bar and typical me, I was about an hour early. I saw a man glance over at me a few times but would look away when I caught him. I immediately felt uncomfortable. I had hoped he wouldn’t come over. When I saw him take his bottle of beer and finish it in one swallow, I knew he found a little liquid courage.
And sure enough, he slid off his bar stool and ambled over to me. I was standing near the back of the bar and I felt a little trapped. I had hoped he was just heading to the bathroom but he made a wobbly beeline over to me.
“You sure look pretty.”
I politely smiled and looked away. I started to walk in the direction he had come. He sidestepped in front of me.
“I sure would like to date you.”
I pressed my lips together and continued to not look at him, hoping he would pick up on my body language.
He offered to buy me a drink. No, thank you, I said.
He asked my name and tried to engage me in small talk.
I remember feeling just… angry.
Why was I angry? I’m sure in reading this it sounds like a guy just talking to a girl at a bar, what’s the harm in that? But it wasn’t just a guy talking to a girl. The second thing he said to me was wanting to date me. He stepped in front of me when I tried to walk away. It felt like he was trying to intimidate me. It was working.
I was angry because I felt powerless. I didn’t know what he would do. He had already sidestepped in front of me once, and I was pretty sure he would do it again. I didn’t know when he would leave. He wasn’t picking up on my non-verbal communication or he was choosing to ignore it.
I was angry because I had a cute dress and a really good makeover and a long week and this… guy comes along and makes me feel powerless. Scared. Sexualized. Trapped. I wanted to be direct and tell him to leave me alone. But I was scared to do that. He looked stronger than me, he might have a weapon, he might have friends nearby. I’ve heard it’s better to be safe than polite. It’s true.
I gathered up the courage to interrupt him and told him I was married. I remember thinking that this was a risk because I didn’t know what he would do. Would he be angry? Dismissive? Would he (please) walk away?
He stopped talking, looked me up and down slowly, and hobbled back to his bar stool.
I shook for a while. I felt… violated. I felt stupid. I wanted to go home.
Soon my friends showed up and I warned them about the guy. He kept looking over in our direction. I left when he had stepped into the restroom. I didn’t want him to see me leave in case he followed me to the parking lot.
This entire experience was brand new to me. I had just started to go out en femme a few months before this happened and was experiencing the world in a different pair of shoes, both figuratively and literally. Getting approached by a man was another new experience.
It’s amazing I can recall as much as I can, years later. The range of emotions from anger to fear to powerless was overwhelming. As someone who spends a lot of their life presenting as male, I was not used to feeling these things.
It was horrible. It was horrible feeling powerless when I normally feel invincible when I am en femme. I was angry that this guy just wouldn’t leave me alone when all I wanted to do was dress up, look cute, and see my friends.
This was a new experience. But it wouldn’t be the last.
The most recent experience was a few weeks ago when Minneapolis had its annual Pride festival and the MN T-Girls had a booth. We were there to celebrate with members of the LGBTQ+ community and to promote our group. It’s one of the most fun days of the year.
Pride is a wonderful event. There’s so much… joy in the air. It can be an overwhelming experience. It can be an emotional one. It’s not an unusual to talk to a parent who stops by the booth to talk about their child, their spouse, their sibling who just came out as transgender and for that conversation to end in a hug. There’s a lot of hugging at Pride.
As the day was winding down, a guy approached our booth and seemed really nervous. Perhaps he was simply hot from the summer sun. I am not sure. He asked for directions for a specific booth (which was located right next to ours) and I pointed him towards it. He thanked me and then made his way around the table and put his arm around me and tried to pull me into a hug.
It caught me off guard. Yes, people hug at Pride but they ask for permission first.
I froze because I didn’t know what he was going to do. Would he let me go? Would he touch me with his other hand? Would he try to kiss me? I don’t know.
He broke off the hug and walked away. I don’t even know if he stopped at the booth he said he said he was looking for.
I was shaken. I felt violated. Even recalling the moment now makes me sad.
But Hannah it was just a HUG you might be saying. No. It was unasked for physical contact. I have every right to decide who I have an sort of physical contact with, whether it is a handshake, a hug, or anything else. Regardless of this person’s intentions, as innocent as they might have been, it doesn’t erase the fact that after a few moment of small talk he walked around to my side of the table and put his arm around me.
I was on edge the rest of the day. I kept an eye out for him, but I was wary of almost everyone who approached the booth that day. I hated that this happened. I hated that this guy changed the day for me. I hated how I was happy and celebrating Pride one moment and then it changed to me looking over my shoulder and being on guard the rest of the day.
When I present as male, which I do most of the day and have done so for most of my life, I have never really felt unsafe in public. I don’t get sent photos of someone’s genitals. As Hannah, it’s a different story. Sadly these experiences are no different that what almost every woman experiences in their lives, too.
It has taken about four days to write this post. It’s not easy to put these experiences and thoughts into words, and I am also hesitant to post this. I’m a little afraid, to be honest. One thought that crosses my mind is that guy from Pride looking for me again. Does he read my blog and did he know I would be at Pride? Will he come to the next public event I attend? Is he dangerous?
I don’t broadcast my plans in advance with the exception of Pride and I am always with my friends at the booth, so I am not alone there. Does this make me nervous about going out? Yes. Although it’s not likely I will ever see this specific guy again, I wonder about the next one. Could the next creep be behind me at Starbucks? Could the next guy who “sure wants to date me” be following me to my car?
I don’t know.
I am used to being careful where I go. When I go out, I am constantly looking at my surroundings. Do I see anyone I know? Is there anyone looking at me? Being on guard is second nature at this point, but it will feel different now. I am even afraid of the virtual backlash I could receive in writing something like this. The internet is a place where we can be as anonymous as we would like, and I won’t be surprised if I get emails or messages from people calling me a bitch or threatening me.
I am not sure I know the reason I am writing this but all of this has been clearly bothering me for a long time. I think the tipping point was the other day when I was at work and got another explicit message from someone who follows me online. This was not a message that was more sexual than others that I have received in the past, but this message just… triggered something in me. It pushed me over the line between putting up with it and shaking it off to getting pissed about it.
Recalling these moments has exhausted me and I think I am done writing this post. I wish I could end with something more uplifting but to all the girls and t-girls out there, please be safe.
Recently I have been having trouble keeping my wig on. It seams to ride up the back of my head after an hour or two wearing it. Any suggestions?
You may want to consider wearing a wig cap which would prevent your wig from moving around. They are available in both a mesh and a nylon style. Other girls use special wig tape, bobby pins, or hair clips to keep their hair in place.
However, selecting a wig that is the right size is also important. If the band isn’t large enough, or stretchy enough, your wig will simply not fit right.
I hope this helps!
I think I’m getting close to finishing ‘In-Between‘. I am editing and writing as I go and I’m excited to finish it. I have a couple more chapters to go as well as some introductiony/biography stuff after that.
As I get close to completing the first draft, I am getting a better sense as to what else needs to be included. I never meant for this book to be a “how to crossdress” guide, but I am starting to think that a couple of chapters dedicated to some basic techniques on shopping and makeup might not be a bad thing.
I decided to write two chapters for the beginning of the book and I am providing the first of these two chapters below. I’d love to know what you think!
When I was in my late teens, I sought out as many resources as I could when it came to crossdressing. I was encouraged by how much, if you knew where to look, material was out there. I found autobiographies of those whose dressed like I did, makeup and style guides, forums to help foster a community and more.
When I started my current website, I included a section called ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Crossdressing’. I did this for two reasons. This first reason is because ‘how to crossdress’ was one of the most common and consistent phrases people used to find my site. I thought by including a part of the website to this I could spread my… message, if you will, about what I thought crossdressing was, and, in a way, attempt to normalize it.
In my quest to find as much as I could about crossdressing in my younger days, it wasn’t hard to find material that presented crossdressing as a fetish. I stumbled upon more photos of dudes wearing panties that did not fit than I can ever forget. It was frustrating seeing crossdressers being overwhelmingly represented like this.
This is not who I was. If there was an audience out there willing to listen, then I should share my thoughts about what crossdressing was, and about who we are. Not all of us are fetishsts. Not all of us want to post pictures of ourselves in lingerie online. I wanted to be a reassuring voice to those wives that discovered their husbands wore panties and were looking for some perspective.
The second reason I included this was because I received dozens of emails a week from people asking me how to crossdress. It got a little exhausting. Over time the temptation to respond to these emails in a snarky way grew to the point where I almost responded with ‘buy some panties, ta-da, you’re a crossdresser’ but that would simply be bitchy. Crossdressing is pretty easy and complex at the same time. You can go as minimal or as far as you want. Crossdressing can be as simple as slipping on a pair of panties or as in depth as shaving your body, getting a $60 makeover and hitting the town. It’s really up to you.
However, that’s not what they really wanted to know. My belief is that crossdressing is simply wearing clothes that are typically associated with another gender. I think most people who were asking understood that if someone wanted to crossdress, they just needed to buy a dress or wear eyeliner. I think what they were really asking is:
“How do I reconcile the part of me that wants to wear beautiful clothes but I’m a guy?”
“How do I find a pair of heels that fit?”
“How do I gather the courage to shop for a skirt in guy mode?”
“How do I learn how to do my own makeup?”
“How do I accept that despite a $70 makeover that I don’t look like Angelina Jolie?”
My website, and my book, is intended to help with accepting yourself.
It’s intended to help you shop for clothes that fit.
It’s about living in a world that doesn’t understand us.
It’s a resource to guide someone through the wonderful world of makeup.
It’s to help with overcoming dysphoria and shattering the expectation of ‘passing’.
There are a ton of books and websites out there about being who we are. I felt I had a unique and underrepresented voice and perspective when it comes to crossdressing. I didn’t want to add another book or blog that didn’t say anything new. As I got older, I still sought out books and other resources and saw a lot of designers who sold makeup for men and dresses for crossdressers. There’s a lot that you can find out there and I am so happy that there are those that design clothes with us in mind. I have had wonderful partnerships with many of these businesses and designers whether it was modeling or writing articles for their websites.
But I realized that I didn’t need to Google ‘makeup for men’ to find a foundation to cover my beard line. I shifted my search terms to things like ‘makeup to cover facial hair’. I was able to find products that did the trick that cost less than what I was previously buying. I didn’t need to search for ‘clothes for crossdressers’. When I did that I usually found dresses that were a little on the fetishy side of the closet. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, God knows I have my share of dresses like that.
What I searched for instead were things like ‘dresses for broad shoulders’ or ‘high heels in size 12’. I found a lot more options than doing it this way. This revelation reminded me that everyone has a body and what we need for them is not necessarily limited to gender. Many ciswomen wear heels that are sized 12 and up Many ciswomen buy makeup and clothes to minimize or enhance certain physical features.
When it comes to the practical side of buying clothes that fit you, this is the approach I recommend. You don’t have to Google “high heels for men” for a pair of cute pumps. If you know your measurements, then you can find (practically) anything.
My website is about resources and accepting yourself. There’s a fair part of creating yourself, too. When I started to wear makeup, I wanted to look like Selena Gomez or Sandra Bullock or _______________. I was devastated when I didn’t. But as time passed I learned that I would never look like them, I would always look like me. I learned that there was no such thing as passing. I learned how to shake off dysphoria, I accepted who I was and embraced how I looked. Things that I wish I accepted years earlier.
But these things I learned over time. They were learned from experience and these epiphanies came with time. No one could have taught me these things, I had to learn them myself. I think we all did.
This book was never meant to be a how-to guide to crossdressing. It still isn’t. However, I started to think that a book about living between gender identities almost requires a bit of a practical guide. I resisted this section for a long time because my core belief is that there is no correct way to be a girl. There is no standard one must meet, no one is too tall to be feminine, no one has shoulders too broad to be pretty. Providing instructions on how to “look like a girl” seems to be contrast with the purpose of the book and my website.
But here it is anyway.
Let me clarify that I am not speaking for the entire transcommunity. I am not saying these are the standards and expectations you must meet in order to be trans or present or identify as a girl. You are transgender if you say you are transgender. You are a woman if you say you are. I have seen gorgeous women with facial hair and have met many transwomen who wear jeans and sneakers and no makeup.
I chose the topics based on the most commonly asked questions I received over the years, such as shaving, learning makeup, and finding your proper measurements. Looking over these subjects, it all comes across as very practical which isn’t a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look a certain way. My approach to… all of this comes from an insanely high level of confidence and plenty of I Don’t Care What You Think.
However, if I am being honest, this attitude came from loving how I looked. I love how I look in a cute dress. I love how I look after I do my makeup. Loving how I looked came from practice with makeup and finding clothes that fit. I guess what I am saying is that I get it, I understand when someone wants to look cute. We all want to feel beautiful and if this helps, who am I to judge?
I also want to be very clear that I do not believe in “passing”. I don’t think I pass, and you likely won’t either. What is passing? Who decides if you pass or not? Who has the right to decide if you look feminine enough? What does that even mean? Women, whether trans or cis, all look different. Some cis-women are tall, have broad shoulders, hands of all sizes and have different facial features. Holding ourselves to a certain standard means that we have expectations as to what a cis-woman “should” look like. Here’s the reality: Some cis-women have large hands. Some are taller than cis-men. Some have deep voices. Some have facial hair. Does this mean they don’t “pass”? Of course not. All cis-women are women (if they choose to identify that way, of course), all transwomen are women, no matter how anyone looks.
“Passing” and loving how you look and feel are two completely different things. Passing is impossible and isn’t real, but loving yourself is. When I walk through a mall wearing my favorite dress and heels I feel *amazing*. I don’t care what anyone else thinks. What do I care if someone thinks that I am not beautiful? What do I care if someone knows that I am transgender? I am transgender. To me it’s the same thing as someone knowing I am right-handed. It doesn’t affect me in the slightest. You are the only one that gets to decide if you are beautiful. And you are.
However, I also remember the early days of dressing up, going out, and being comfortable. It was a roller coaster of emotions. I think all of us go through massive swings of self-esteem. I certainly did at first and it still happens from time to time. It’s normal. I think what helps me get through them is just accepting and loving myself and not worrying about what other people might think.
I think sometimes our self-esteem is so tied up in how we feel about how we look that when ur reflection doesn’t match our expectations we are devastated.. I think most of us have felt at one time (or one hundred times) that we are not pretty enough, we look too male, we’re too tall, our feet are too big and a million other thoughts. When we don’t love how we thought we’d look, or how we wanted to look, it can be a little…crushing, to be honest. The first time I wore makeup and a wig I was amazed at how I looked but also destroyed that I didn’t look like a supermodel. The first time I did my own makeup was also a humbling experience.
What changed? Time passed and as it did, I got better at makeup, I purchased a better wig, I started to dress better and wore clothes that fit. We all want to be a size 6 and some of us want to buy the tiniest dress at the mall, but wearing a dress and looking good in a dress are two different things. After years of crossdressing, I was finally coming into my look. I was happy, and still am. But my confidence didn’t only come from how I look. I also embraced who I was and became happier with who I am. Acceptance can lead to confidence, which leads to happiness.
So, with that out of the way, let’s get started.