Crossing the Line

All throughout my life I have been unintentionally and subtly reminded how different I was.  Not different in a bad way, just different.  I remember being in high school and the guys in my class would talk about seeing a girl’s cleavage because of a dress she wore to the homecoming dance.  I just wanted to hear more about the dress.  Strapless?  Was there a slit up the side?  What fabric was it made of?  How did her makeup look?  How did she wear her hair?  TELL ME ABOUT THE HEELS.

But instances like this started before I was a teenager, even before grade school.  I knew I was unique because not every boy wanted to dress up as the princess in kindergarten.  I did not want to be the construction worker or the doctor.  No hardhat or stethoscope for me, I wanted the pink gown and fairy wings.

I still do.

I was six and I was transgender.

I define being transgender as any deviation from the traditional gender and societal norms for the gender we are assigned to at birth.  Yes, this is a broad perspective but I like that it can cover quite almost all of us.  Whether you are a drag queen, a part-time t-girl like myself or you just enjoy panties or painting your nails, we are all under this inclusive umbrella.

Under this definition, I have always been trans.  Even before I knew how to spell it, I was transgender.  And I will still be transgender in ten years from now.  This isn’t something we outgrow.  If you’ve been reading my ramblings for a while you know that the hill I will die on is that this is not a phase.

As I made my way through junior high and high school, I would try on anything I could.  It wasn’t long until I gravitated towards lingerie.  After all, what is more feminine than a beautiful bra and matching panty?  What is sexier than pairing it with a garter belt and stockings?  Is there any secret more fun than wearing cute panties under your regular clothes?  I loved underdressing.  I still do.  Your perspective may vary, but I think of panties as a way of connecting to my femme self when I am presenting as male.

I added heels and dresses once I had my own apartment.  I slept in a nightie.  My tiny wardrobe would grow and then get purged and then grow again.  These days my shoe collection, makeup shelf and wardrobe is larger than I had ever dared to dream.

I am beyond fortunate.

I don’t think anyone will know why they are trans.  I mean, there are signs and moments in one’s life that can pinpoint when they knew they were not cisgender.  There may have been feelings that they were born with the wrong body but trying to come up with why one felt this way is hard to do.  I don’t know why I wanted (and still want to) be a cheerleader instead of a football player, but there it is.

Growing up boys my age were constantly labeling things as ‘boy things’ or ‘girl things’.  Whether it was jumping rope or what side of the table you sat on for lunch, there were things boys did and things boys did not do.  Of course, this hasn’t changed much now that I am an adult.  Men don’t typically exfoliate because I guess men don’t do that?  Really?  Don’t men have…skin?  Black coffee is for men, pumpkin spice lattes are for the ladies.

However nothing is more divisive in terms of gender norms than clothes.  Men do not wear leggings.  Men do not wear camisoles.  Men do not wear things like this:

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Or this:

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Of course, these outfits may be on the more extreme side of the feminine societal norms.  I don’t think that a dude rocking an evening gown is the same thing as a dude taking care of his pores.  There are many cis-women who do not want to wear heels and dresses.  You don’t have to want to wear a dress, but you should know you can if you want to.

I believe that I will never know why I am who I am.  It doesn’t keep me up at night though.  I love who I am, I have long ago embraced and accepted myself.  You should do that for yourself, too.  I don’t ask myself why I am who I am.

What I do ask myself is do I wear what I wear because I am transgender or am I transgender because I wear what I wear?

Going by my definition of what being transgender is, I would still be trans if the only thing I owned was the nightie I wear to bed.  Accepting myself as transgender has given me the confidence, and in a way, permission to wear whatever I want.  There are some of us who want nothing more than to wear that red dress we saw at the mall.  But we just can’t do it.  Buying that dress means that we are entering a new world.  We would cross that line from “I wonder what it’s like to wear a dress” to “I own a dress”.  Sure, it might be hanging up waaaaay in the back between your old football jersey and suit, but you are one step closer to knowing what it’s like to wear one.

If we look at clothes on a spectrum for what is traditionally for boys and what is traditionally for girls, dresses, lingerie, mascara are among the things that will be very much on one side.  Tuxedos, beards, and, I don’t know, jock straps are on the opposite end.  These are all items that are typically highly genderized.  Spellcheck is telling me that ‘genderized’ isn’t a word, but you know what I mean.

There are clothes in my closet that I think are, and should be, right in the middle.  Things that I believe I would wear even if I weren’t transgender.  I do not think clothes should be for boys or for girls.  I roll my eyes when I go shopping and I see the section for “Women’s Dresses”.  I mean, they’re just dresses.

When I go to bed, I think about how good it feels to wear my black nightgown.  After a day in a suit or jeans, wearing a simple nightie feels like the ultimate freedom.  Physically and in a way, emotionally.  Gone are the trappings of “male clothes” and power suits and neckties and wingtip shoes.  Gone is the socially accepted uniform that men are supposed to wear.  All is left is a simple, but beyond beautiful nightie.

You probably know what I mean.

I have clothes that I wear regardless of what gender I present as.  I have “boy jeans” and “girl jeans”.  I wear both in male mode.  The boy jeans have pockets and the girl jeans are softer.  I have “boy shirts” and “girl shirts”.  The differences are minimal.  One has a v-neck, the other a scoop.

When I am home, I slip on leggings.  I love leggings.  LOVE them.  Everyone should wear them.  I accept that most men will never know what its like to wear an evening gown, but I believe things like leggings and nightgowns are things men would wear if they tried them on.

But they won’t.  No matter how much they want to.  They are “for girls”.  They are in the same category as moisturizer, Taylor Swift songs and pedicures.  Sure, a boy COULD enjoy these things, but they are FOR GIRLS.

Accepting myself as transgender and believing that there are no such thing as girl things and boy things has given me the confidence and security to wear whatever I want, whether it is eyeliner, a nightie or a little black dress.

So, do I wear what I wear because I am transgender or am I transgender because I wear what I wear?

Yes.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

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Tangled

T-girls know the purge.  How many times throughout our lives have we decided we are DONE, that we are NEVER EVER going to wear “girl’s” clothes ever again?  That this was a phase and we are MANLY MEN and men don’t wear five-inch black patent stilettos?  Into the trash they go!

But… in a matter or weeks, months, years or even hours, we regret it.  We hit the mall and begin rebuilding our wardrobe.

Again and again and again.

I am decades passed thinking that I would be able to resist who I am.  I knew it was never a phase, that I would always want to wear what I want to wear, but I thought I could control it.  I remember the last time I threw everything away and hoping I could tough it out.  These days my wardrobe and shoe collection are larger than it ever was.

But I still purge every once in a while.  I go through my wardrobe and closet, drawers and makeup, and toss out and donate what doesn’t fit or what I don’t wear anymore.  I like de-cluttering and it gives me more hangers and closet space for new stuff.  🙂

Yesterday I organized my jewelry and tossed out earrings that I can no longer find it’s mate, bracelets that fall into the “why did I buy this” category and necklaces that I can’t wait to wear now that I have untangled them.  I found the first pair of earrings my wife bought me, the first necklace I wore outside my home and the bracelets I bought on a shopping party the MN T-Girls attended.

I can’t speak for all t-girls, but I have a deep, personal connection to what is considered girl’s clothes and things.  This yellow dress is more than a dress, this is a dress that I was able to wear to wear after working so hard to lose weight.  It represents hard work and determination.

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I have many stories and there are meanings to so many things I own and wear.  I bet you have these stories and memories too.

This is who I am.  It’s who I grew up as and who I will grow old(er) as.

I have always been transgender, even before I knew there was a word for it.

My definition of transgender is rather broad and it basically comes down to any feeling, thinking, clothing preferences…whatever, that go against traditional societal norms about what boys and girls “should” wear or act.

I can trace back to when I tried on my first article of clothing that traditionally boys don’t wear.  It was a pair of my mom’s boots, found in the back of a closet in our basement.  I was around five or six years old.

As a child, I was fascinated by and  in love with dresses, makeup and shoes.  I still am.  My adoration for these things was always there, even before I could ride a bike without training wheels.  How’s that for perspective?

All throughout my childhood I tried on as many things as I could.  I suppose some would describe this as “experimenting” with girl’s clothes but I wasn’t experimenting.  I knew who I was, I knew what I wanted.  I didn’t think I was born with the wrong body, I just didn’t understand why simply being one gender meant that I wasn’t “allowed” to wear what I wanted to.

I remember the first day I was brave enough to wear panties under my work clothes.  All throughout my shift I was terrified but proud of myself.  I was fifteen.  I liked wearing dresses (or tops, skirts, anything) whenever I had the chance.  Wearing panties was, and still is, an intimate and personal connection to who I am.

I do not want to transition, I like who I am and I like being able to go back and forth between whatever gender I choose, but for some of us we know that presenting as male is required for most of what we do.  In a world where no one cares about gender and societal norms, sure, I suppose I could wear that dress to work, but I don’t see that happening in my lifetime.  It is enough to be able to wear a lacy pair of pink panties under my suit.  I smile inwardly when I have to do something MANLY like drive a forklift while I think about the cute undies I have on under my jeans.

The most common question we are asked is WHY.  Why do we do this?  Why do we want to?  Why do we choose to wear bras and heels?  We fumble and incoherently answer these questions without a convincing or satisfying answer.  We don’t know why we are who we are.  Usually the answer to these questions is simply “I just like wearing skirts” or “I love to feel beautiful”.  These answers are honest and real and true, but also vague.

But we also ask these questions of ourselves.  There is no answer.  There are reasons, but there is no real explanation.  We know how to go and come back from the moon and why the sky is blue but not why I love to wear lingerie.  Besides the obvious reasons, of course.

Underdressing (wearing a cute cami, panties, bras, stockings, etc, under male clothes) keeps me connected to who I am.  I wear panties, I want to wear panties, and by my definition of transgender, that alone makes me transgender.  This would also be true if ‘panties’ were replaced by ‘nail polish’ or whatever.

I need to clarify that every trans person is different.  I know many t-girls who wouldn’t wear high heels for any amount of money.   They choose jeans over dresses, sneakers instead of pumps.  I know some cis-women like that, too.  Wardrobe and makeup alone do not make you trans.  Some of us are trans because they simply (or complexly) felt like they were assigned the wrong gender at birth, or that they have anatomical features that contradict with their identity.  These feelings have nothing to do with a cute pencil skirt.

For me, gender identity and clothes, like tangled necklaces, are forever entwined.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

Specially Designed Luxury Lingerie For Transwomen

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From The London Economic

A transgender woman has launched the world’s first range of specially designed luxury lingerie – for trans women.

She said trans women who haven’t had surgery have few options to help conceal their genitals – and what’s out there is a far cry from anything found on the shelves of Victoria’s Secret and Anne Summers.

Carmen Liu, 27, from London, has designed flattering underwear that ‘tucks’ the genitals in while featuring pretty bows and lace trimmings usually found on conventional lingerie.

Slamming the traditional ‘gaff’ – which she describes as the “love child of Borat’s mankini and a jock strap” – Carmen says all women deserve the experience of wearing sexy lingerie.

She is also adding bras to the range to match her innovative bottoms, which keeps the area down below looking flat with a secret combination of design and fabric.

As well as underwear, the entrepreneur is also bringing out her own ‘tucking tape’ – which is safe for skin and a less painful alternative to household tapes that many trans women use.

More here!

Love, Hannah

 

 

Ask Hannah!

untitled-1So last week in MN must have been really cold, yet you went out in that short skirt! Do your nylons provide any sort of warmth?  I doubt it.  So how does a girl stay fashion forward in such cold temperatures?

It was cold.  It will be even colder this week.

I hate the cold and one of the primary reasons is that I don’t like letting the cold tell me what to wear, and therefore I am usually freezing.

No, the stockings do not provide any sort of warmth.  I suppose I could wear thermal tights or leggings, but to be honest, I work really hard to keep my figure and I am especially proud of my legs.  I like to show them off.

I admire girls who can pull off a really cute and stylish look when the weather turns nasty.  When I see a girl wearing leggings and a cute sweater I always wonder if I could make a look like that work for me.  It would certainly be more sensible than a skirt like that and matching it with four inch stilettos.

What’s amazing about women’s clothing (and I don’t think there is such a thing as “men’s” or “women’s” clothing, but you know what I mean) is how cute, fun, and how varied it can be.  In male mode it’s shirt and tie…every. single. day.  But on the other side of the closet, it’s hoodies and yoga pants, skinny jeans and tank tops, t-shirts and jean skirts, dress pants and blouses, summer dresses and sneakers.  The options change with the seasons.  Right now the weather is giving us an excuse to wear infinity scarfs, tights, boots, cute jackets… the options are endless.  I never feel more jealous than when the seasons shift from one to another.

I do tend to dress on the more…dress-uppy side of things.  I love heels, dresses, dramatic makeup… I tend to stand out.  Not because I am amazing or anything like that, but I am a six foot tall t-girl.  Taller in heels.  People tend to notice me anyway.  Some girls dress to blend in and I think that’s wonderful, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that.  So, if I can’t blend in, I may as well dress exactly how I want.

I do think about going a little more casual from time to time, but that hasn’t happened yet.

What are some of your favorite winter looks?  Comment below!

Love, Hannah

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Have a question for me?  Oh yes you do.  Ask me here!

 

 

Love for ThirdLove

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A few weeks ago, I posted about the hurtful comments from an executive with Victoria’s Secret.  Equally disappointing was how they handled the backlash.  Because of this, I resolved not to shop there anymore.  I think it’s important we support trans-inclusive businesses, or at the very least, avoid giving our money to an organization that seemingly tolerates anti-trans attitudes.

Many of you wrote asking for alternatives to Victoria’s Secret.  I heard about ThirdLove during this controversy as they wrote an open letter to the company condemning their comments.  Any company that sticks up for our community is absolutely worth checking out.

I visited their site and was struck by not only the selection of their lingerie but also by the inclusiveness of their models.  Their dedication to providing options for everyone was impressive and they offer Fit Finder, an online tool to help all women find their perfect size.

Even more impressive is their customer service.  I dropped them an email and within a half hour I received a response from Brooke.  I ordered a few different panties (the Cotton Thong, Lace Back Cheeky and the Lace High Brief) and I was thrilled when they arrived.

I am happy to say that each option was a perfect fit.  High quality and beautiful.  I loved what I bought but the Lace High Brief is my absolute favorite panty in my lingerie drawer.  Super cute and fits like a dream.

If you’re looking for a new place to get lingerie, I absolutely recommend ThirdLove.

Love, Hannah

 

It Will Never Be Okay

I think the social norms surrounding clothes are hilarious.

Why is a t-shirt with a v-neck considered men’s wear and a t-shirt with a scoop neck is considered women’s wear?  It’s a shirt.

I stand by the belief that if every cis-male tried sleeping in a nightgown then within weeks Target would soon start selling nighties with designs like a football jersey.

Same with leggings because OMG leggings.

I get emails from many people, both trans and cis about clothes.  Some of the emails are from people who may not consider themselves transgender, but rather just want to wear what they want to wear.  “Why can’t guys wear a skirt?  What’s wrong with men wanting to paint their nails?”

Here’s the thing.  Anyone can wear a skirt.  Anyone can paint their nails, even if it’s tricky to paint your right hand with your left hand.  Clothes don’t know that society has placed expectations and norms on who can wear them.  If it fits, you can wear it.

But I know that’s not what they mean.  People want to be able to wear what they want without anyone caring.  Or pointing.  Or laughing.  But that will never happen.  We live in a society where the colors people wear make people so angry.  In 2011 J. Crew published an ad that had a photo of a mom painting her son’s toenails pink.  The world lost its mind.  The reaction, although depressing and hilarious at the same time, was not unexpected.

We live in a world where people get beat up because they’re wearing the opposing football team’s jersey at a game.

I think we can all agree that there are many people in the world who care waaaaay too much about what clothes people wear.  Whether I’m stepping out in heels and a killer bodycon dress and a $70 makeover or I am in guy mode wearing “girl jeans”, I know that I am making someone angry.

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Here’s me not caring about what you think

Good.  If what I wear is making you angry then I am glad to put you through that.  If you are the type of person who spends even a second of your time thinking about what I should or should not wear then you are, well, pretty pathetic.  I don’t care what you wear, why do you care what I wear?

I am not aware of any state that has laws that says that men cannot wear eyeliner or yoga pants.  Let me know if I’m wrong.  But what the law says and what societal norms are can be very different.  Just because there is or isn’t a law about something it doesn’t mean people will change their opinions and attitudes.

I think what we want is for it to be okay.  There were headlines all over the country a few years ago when the marriage equality act was passed.  It gave everyone the right to marry whoever they wanted.  But the law didn’t necessarily change people’s minds about the LGBTQIA community.  I can’t imagine someone seeing that the law changed and thinking “well, I guess it’s okay to be gay.”  If they didn’t like our community before, I doubt that law changed anyone’s mind.

My point is that even if the newspapers all over the world printed a headline that read “It’s Okay to Wear Whatever You Want”, it’s still not going to be “okay”.  It’s not “okay” for me to wear whatever I want.  But that’s fine, I don’t need permission from anyone when it comes to something like clothing.  Even if that headline was published, there will always be the change someone will laugh, point or threaten us whether we are rocking those stilettos or simply glaming up our eyes with a little mascara.

We need to stop waiting for permission.  We need to stop waiting for some authority to “let” us do what we want and wear what we want.  It will never come.  It will never be okay.

But it TOTALLY is.

I hope you can spend your weekend wearing what you want, whether you are strutting through the mall in knee high boots or being lazy in leggings.

Love, Hannah

 

Dressing Up and Dressing Down

Sometimes I wonder if it IS all about the clothes, the makeup, the heels.  But it’s not.  It’s about not feeling comfortable being tied to a specific gender for my entire life.  It’s about feeling comfortable as more than one gender presentation.  I feel just as confident in a suit as I do in a little black dress, but for different reasons.  I don’t want to transition because I like being able to choose my gender presentation whenever I feel like it.  As I get older, I also feel more hesitant to use phrases like “always” and “never” when it comes to my opinions about some things.

Of course, there are exceptions.  Like, should you wear open-toe heels with black stockings?  NEVER.

Oscar Wilde wrote “You can never be overdressed or over-educated.”  I agree.  I like to dress and look my best.  When I am out, I know that I am probably overdressed on some level to hit the mall.  But after days of shirts and ties, the sound of heels clicking on the floor in a department store is heaven.

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When I was younger I used to dream about certain clothes.  I would page through the Victoria’s Secret catalog and wonder what it would be like to wear a matching bra and panty.  I would see girls wearing formal gowns and I would picture myself in such a beautiful dress.  In my closet I am lucky to have everything from leather to sparkley.

There are still outfits on my wish list but let’s be honest, after a certain number of bodycon and little black dresses, it becomes harder to find a dress that becomes a must-have.

Lately I seem to be drawn to a more casual look.  I have tried this in the past, such as pairing a cute top with a cardigan for example, but as I look through my wardrobe I don’t have a lot of outfits that are perfect for a lazy day of going out for coffee and running errands.

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I don’t mind stopping by Starbucks or Target in four inch heels, but when I see girls wearing cute, comfy clothes I start to wonder if I could pull off the leggings/tank top/hoodie look.  I’ve been hesitant to try this in the past as I feel that layering gives me a “bulkier” look, especially my shoulders, than I would like.  I also think that if I am only going to dress up a couple times a month, do I really want to pass up a chance to wear that cute new dress?

 

Of course, expanding one’s style also feels expanding one’s wardrobe (which is exciting and also expensive).  I have an extensive collection of heels and a perfect dress to match each pair, but I have exactly zero pairs of shoes that would go with a more casual look.

I have a photo shoot next month and I am starting to pick my outfits for it.  I have a few new dresses that I am going to model for certain, but I might slip in something a little more causal as well.

Any suggestions for me?

What look do YOU want to try?

Love, Hannah