Who’s That T-Girl?

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They say clothes make the man.  I agree.  Clothes also can make the t-girl.

When I step into my pink stilettos, or a leather mini-dress, or a cute skirt, I become who I am.

But I don’t think this person is “the real me”.  She’s part of me, literally my other half.  High heels and dresses make me who I am just as much as a t-shirt with my favorite band on it in male mode.  My clothes, in either gender, represent who I am.  There is no denying that clothes transform us.  Not only in how we look, but how we feel about ourselves.  I don’t think I am alone in feeling absolutely beautiful when I am en femme.  But I also feel brave.  I feel confident.  In a world that doesn’t understand us, strutting into the mall in a skirt and pumps is one of the most courageous things we can do.

Of course, there are also days where I feel absolutely wretched and the cutest dress in the world can’t help how I feel, but let’s not dwell on that.

When I am en femme, I feel like I can conquer the world.  I conquered the part of me that was too scared to go outside, I conquered any dysphoria I had that day, I conquered walking gracefully in heels on icy sidewalks.  I feel invincible.

And let’s face it, we need to feel invincible.  We live in a world that passes laws to make our lives challenging or almost impossible.  We live in a world where people laugh at us, stare at us, and hurt us.  And worse.

This side of us is a surprising side of us to other people, to say the least.  But it’s also surprising to us, as well.  We may find out that we look *amazing* in red, or that dusty rose is the best lipstick color for us, or that we can apply false eyelashes perfectly each time.  Life is not about discovering yourself, it is about creating yourself, and no one knows that better than a t-girl.

When I am en femme, I am letting that side of me out, but there’s also an aspect of recreating her each time I dress.  This is a practical act, such as putting on my thigh pads and breast forms, but it is also a mental shift as well.  I am putting aside the normal responsibilities and obligations of my male life for a while and entering a world that is, in some ways, quieter and calmer.

What I mean by that is my lives are very different from each other, depending on if I am wearing heels or work boots.  There are very little similarities or overlap between the two.  Different wardrobes of course, but also different friends and interests.

That’s not to say that I put on lipstick and I am singing at a nightclub instead of attending a monster truck rally, but I do different things en femme than I do in my male life.  Ignoring the obvious things, like shopping for heels or getting a makeover, there are things Hannah does that the boy does not.

Hannah doesn’t do anything that I wouldn’t do when I present as male.  This is not a Jekyll and Hyde thing, after all.  I enjoy art, but I don’t spend afternoons at a museum.  However, Hannah does.  For one reason, it’s just simply more fun to do thing en femme.  It can be something as simple as waiting for a coffee, walking down the street or wandering around a department store.  Life in these moments has slowed down and I am spending time just… being.  I think it’s good for me.

In male mode I tend to be a little more introverted and prefer to spend time at home.  Hannah is chatty, more social, and friendlier.  She has more friends than I do.  Although these characteristics are not ones she shares with the male side of me, they are not in conflict with each other.  I do like chatting with people, but I am usually in too much of a rush to do so.  Time moves slower en femme.

When you present as male for most of your time, it’s a big change to spend a day in heels and a dress.  It can take a moment to kind of… shift mentally from one gender to another.  But presenting en femme forces me to come out of whatever shell I am in.

In the early days, I learned a lot about myself.  I learned that I love floral patterns and bodycon dresses, for one, but I also learned who Hannah is.  I learned who I am when I am en femme.  Yes, she is more social.  But she is also braver than I am.  If you don’t think it’s courageous to step out into the real word in heels for the first time you probably aren’t a t-girl.  It takes courage to accept and embrace who you are.  Every single one of us is braver than we give ourselves credit for.

I like Hannah.  Which is good because, well, I am Hannah.  It’s important to like who you are and she has many characteristics that spilled over into my male life.  I became kinder, more patient, and friendlier.  Eyeliner and a pencil skirt did not make me a better person, but being true to myself by embracing this side of me did.  I was happier and more fulfilled than I ever was and I became a better person, regardless of the gender I was presenting as.

When we accept this side of us, we really find out who she is.

Who we are.

Love, Hannah

 

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Ask Hannah!

Please please forgive me if this has been dealt with in your lovely blog and I have failed to find it, but the whole business of gaffing/tucking etc. What do you do, what do you advise?

There a few options a girl like us can explore.  One option is wearing pantyhose or nylons, especially a pair with a control top, to help flatten your…uh, area.  Control tops help with keeping your tummy a little flatter but can also be effective for other anatomical features.

You could tuck, which is essentially pulling your genitalia back between your legs and using a particular type of tape to keep everything in place.

Probably the most common method is wearing a gaff.  A gaff is a type of lingerie that helps tucks and flattens genitalia.  The Breast Form Store, Glamour Boutique, and En Femme all sell various gaffs.  I would also suggest looking at GI, a lingerie brand designed by a transwoman who designed products, including a gaff for our community.

I hope that helps!

Love, Hannah

 

 

PFLAG Events for September

PFLAG’s mission is uniting people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) with families, friends, and allies.  PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education, and advocacy.  PFLAG has 400 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

PFLAG was the first support organization I heard of when I was growing up.  I attended their meetings a few years ago and found it was a supportive and inclusive community.  PFLAG is a wonderful group, especially for our spouses and family members and I am happy to promote the events the Twin Cities chapter has scheduled.

This month on Tuesday, September 17th, their program will be held from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm and will be followed by our support groups from 7:30 pm until 8:45 pm.
The September program will feature guest speakers Leslie and Sam, a mother and son duo from Minneapolis who will share their experiences and lessons learned from each of their vantage points along the way. They both are self-described ‘open books’ on the subject of raising (Leslie) and being (Sam) a transgender child, and welcome questions and dialogue from the audience.
Lessons Learned on a Road Less Traveled
The first time Sam Lagerstrom told his parents they were getting his gender wrong, was at the tender age of four. That was in the year 2000, and from that point on, the family found themselves on a road less traveled, sometimes feeling as if they had to invent new directions at every turn.
Leslie Lagerstrom is the creator of the blog, Transparenthood™, which chronicles her experience raising a transgender child. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, featured in three anthologies, and turned into a stage production. Committed to spreading awareness on the subject of transgender children, she frequently shares her family’s story, speaking in front of audiences across the nation.
Sam Lagerstrom graduated from Bates College in May of 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Returning to the Twin Cities, Sam is now working for a start-up software company and renewing his commitment to advocacy work for the transgender community.
This month their meeting program will be held from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
and be followed by support groups from 7:30 pm until 8:45 pm.
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 Please join them for their September program and support groups.
Tuesday, September 17th, 6:30 – 8:45 pm.
Union Congregational Church
3700 Alabama Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55416

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Love, Hannah

Transform the White House

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Transform the White House is committed to protecting the rights of our community, as well as restoring the rights that we have lost over the past several years.

From their website:

Since President Trump took office, his administration has waged a nonstop onslaught against transgender people. They rolled back protections for transgender students. They banned transgender people from the military. They’re even trying to roll back protections for transgender people to get health care.

The full list of the Trump administration’s attacks against the transgender community is even longer.

But we #WontBeErased. We’re fighting back, alongside all of the other people who are under attack by this administration, from immigrants, to Muslims, to women, and so many more of our neighbors.

Enough is enough. President Trump must go. It’s time for a new president.

Transform the White House is featuring different presidential candidates and what their actions will be in regards to transgender and non-binary people.  They recently interviewed Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota.

Watch the interview here!

Love, Hannah

Look at my Beautiful Outfit, but Ignore me at the Same Time

I was out running errands yesterday (in boy mode) and I was reminded how different I experience the world when I am en femme.  Of course, it’s a lot more fun to to accomplish things when I am hearing the click of heels on the sidewalk and pausing to check my makeup in (every single) mirror at a store, but I digress.

When I am out en femme, I scan every store I walk into.  I am not only checking to make  sure I am not going to see anyone that I know, but I am also sizing up the people that I will be shopping with.  Being obviously trans, I know the world isn’t as safe or as friendly as we would like it to be, and being aware of your surroundings is an absolute must.

But in boy mode?  I don’t give these things another thought.  People talk about male privilege and this is exactly what they mean.  I am not concerned about being harassed or ridiculed or attacked for presenting as male.  But as a woman, specifically as a t-girl, I am hyper aware of what could go wrong.

For the most part, my adventures have been either incredibly affirming or remarkably boring.  Of course, there has been the occasional negative experience, but those have been (thankfully) few and far between.  People do stare, people do look over their shoulders, people do double-takes.  And really, that’s okay.  I stand out, not only as a t-girl, but also because I am over six feet tall, wearing high heels and a super cute dress.  I am waaaay overdressed for Target.

I don’t think the people who stare at me are necessarily bad people who hate me.  For some, I am probably one of the first transpeople they have ever seen.  One of the reasons I like going out so much is because I like to think I am normalizing our community in the real world.  Sure, everyone has heard of transpeople, they probably have seen one on television, but they probably have never seen one of us at Starbucks.

I am aware of who’s looking at me.  My self-awareness is turned way, way up when I am out in the real world.  Is the security guard watching me a little more closely?  If so, I avoid using the ladies room.  Is that fratboy nudging to his bro because he sees one of them transgenders?  In those situations I walk to a different part of the store.

I may not know exactly what everyone is thinking, perhaps they are looking at my cute outfit.  I mean, why wouldn’t you??  But people usually communicate their thoughts through their actions in subtle ways.  Sure, that security guard might be wondering where he could get a dress like that, but there is also the chance he is waiting for me to use the ladies room so he can, I don’t know, arrest me for using the “wrong” bathroom.

I write a lot about encouraging us all to go out in the real world and experience what we want to en femme.  I know we all wonder what others will think, but if there is anything I want to impress upon you is that you don’t know what people will think because you probably won’t ask them and they probably won’t tell you.

But you should still be aware of who you are around.  I have gotten very good at noticing what others are doing near me.  Most people ignore me, but that’s typical.  When most of us are running errands, regardless of the gender we are presenting as, we are usually absorbed with what we are doing or staring at our phones to really pay attention to others.  When en femme, though, I am looking out of the corner of my heavily eyelinered eye to see what others around me are doing.  It’s a survival skill.

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It’s also exhausting.

Once I have assessed the store or restaurant is “safe”, I go about my errand.  Although  am a big girl and can take care of myself and I really, really don’t care what others think of me, I do get a little hurt when I see someone smirking at me.  It’d be easier to pay zero attention to everyone around me, but again, being aware of your surroundings is a survival skill.  Your safety depends on it.

But how much attention are people really paying attention to me, or any other t-girl?  Are more people looking at me than I realize?  Are more people laughing or pointing than I am acknowledging?  Am I more naive than I thought?  Am I oblivious?

Yesterday’s errands brought a new perspective to all this.  As I wandered around the store, I noticed a t-girl doing her shopping as well.  She was tall (aren’t we all), had amazing eye makeup, and a cute outfit.  I noticed her because of her outfit and makeup, but also, to be honest, she is trans.

I noticed her in the same way you might notice someone who is wearing a t-shirt of your favorite band on it.  We had something in common, but she had no idea that we did.

As I got my shopping done, I saw her a couple more times in passing, and eventually we were checking out at the same time.  I looked around the front of the store as I waited to be rung up and I observed the other shoppers as they noticed her.  How did they react?  Were they staring at her?  Were they laughing at her?  Were they coyly taking out their phones to take a picture of her?

I watched others for two reasons.  The first being if someone was going to harass her, I could intervene.  Sisters watch out for sisters.  Even if the sister is a boy at the moment.  But I wanted to see how others reacted to a t-girl.  I thought it might give me insight as to how others might pay attention to me that I may not realize.

Nobody cared.  She was not disrupting anything.  No one was pointing.  No one was trying to get their friend to look over at her.  It was as unremarkable as you could want.

This made me happy.  For one, our sister was (hopefully) having a happy time out running errands as herself.  Hopefully her day en femme was as unremarkable as my days was in boy mode.  But I was also happy that no one cared.

Well, you know what I mean.

It made me think that perhaps people don’t care as much as I think they might.  If people weren’t paying attention to her, maybe I don’t concern them either.

Visibility is important.  We need to show the world we exist.  But in a way, if we have gotten to the point where we are so visible that seeing a t-girl in the wild isn’t that as an uncommon experience as it used to be, then perhaps we can chalk up a small victory.

Finally, it should go without saying that no matter how much progress we are making, it is still a very dangerous world out there.  We are among the most misunderstood communities out there.  I am not so naive to think that everyone loves us and no one wants to hurt us.  Being fabulous and being safe should always go hand in hand.

Love, Hannah

 

Minneapolis Trans Equity Summit

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Minneapolis is hosting the 6th annual Minneapolis Trans Equity Summit on Thursday, September 26th at the Walker Art Center.

From the press release:

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, the theme for this year’s Summit is “Shifting the Narrative.” As trans and gender non-conforming people, what are the stories that are told about us, our histories, and our futures? How do we want to change those stories? What is the silenced history we want to highlight, and what are the futures we’re envisioning?

The Summit is free and open to the public, and we encourage anyone interested in furthering transgender equity to attend. This is an event for trans/GNC community members to connect to resources and each other, and for potential allies to learn more about issues impacting trans/GNC community and how to integrate community visions through an equity lens

Hope you can attend!

Love, Hannah