Sparking Joy with the MN T-Girls!

Earlier this year a Netflix show asked viewers to look at their possessions and ask themselves if what they owned sparked joy.  If it did not, perhaps it was time to donate it.

This movement is creating an increase in donations to thrift stores and consignment shops.  As someone who loves finding amazing dresses, this is a golden age.

Every month, the MN T-Girls meet for a different social outing.  Sometimes we attend a play, or visit a museum, or shop.  This month the girls and I met up for a little thrift store hopping to see if anything we found sparked joy.  Spoiler alert, joy was sparked.  Before shopping, we met for a little lunch at Doolittles in Eagan, a suburb south of the Twin Cities.  Excellent food, attentive staff, and a welcoming environment for a group of t-girls.

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After lunch, it was time to shop!  We started at a thrift shop (Hidden Treasures) just a few blocks from the restaurant.  I didn’t find anything that sparked joy, but a lot of the girls did.

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While the girls were shopping, I caught up on my reading.

 

 

After checking out (and after the girls checked themselves out in the mirror) we went over to Style Encore.  Every single time I’ve shopped here I have found an amazing dress.  Would this trip also yield success?  The girls and I got started.

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And then I saw it, THE DRESS.  Bright as a star, as if a the sun shone down on it.  Was it my size?  Did it spark joy?

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YES.  Joy was sparked.

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Our purses a little lighter and a wardrobes a little fuller, we headed home to try on our new clothes and dream about where we would wear them.

Love, Hannah

 

 

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The New Little Black Dress

I love how clothes can change…everything.  I love how certain patterns, colors, and styles can minimize or enhance certain characteristics of our body.  Black tends to be slimming, dresses with larger prints are usually flattering to us tall girls, and a skirt with horizontal strips can balance out a body that is considered top-heavy.

Of course, you should wear whatever you want.  There is also no standard one must meet to be beautiful or feminine.

That being said, I have always loved what peplum tops and dresses do for my figure.  Peplum dresses and tops have an extra piece of fabric that flares out around your hips.  Peplum style clothing is very versatile as it gives the appearance of hips to those who lack curves, but for those who are a little shapely it draws attention to other parts of our body.

Glamour Boutique recently sent me several dresses to model and to review and I am excited to share with you the first of those outfits.  I have modeled for Glamour Boutique in the past and I am excited to continue to work with them.

When I first started to build my wardrobe, I tended to gravitate towards black dresses as they were not only slimming, but they also gave off a sense of sophistication and class.  After a while, I drifted more towards brighter colors, bold patterns, and different styles.  I hadn’t added a black dress to my closet in years and I was at a point where it would take a really amazing black dress to be added to my closet…

…Such as Glamour Boutique’s Black Crossdresser Peplum Dress.  I looked at this dress on their website and I thought it looked cute, but nothing too spectacular.  When I opened the package the dress came in I was struck by how the photos didn’t really do it justice.  The dress was cuter than it appeared to be.

 

And then I tried it on.

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Wow.  The dress gives me a little more curve, and the skirt is short enough (always a plus in my opinion) to show off my legs.  The top of me is pretty square-shaped so its not easy for me to pull off a hourglass look, but the cute little flare that cinches around my waist gives my body a lot more shape.

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The bottom of the dress is in the style of a pencil skirt and it’s meant to be tight and straight.  This style helps even out my square shoulders and gives me an overall proportional look.  If you are tall like I am, it’s usually recommended to not pair a peplum look with heels, because this style can accentuate height, but as you can see I kept my stilettos and paired this dress with black stockings for a classic look.

The dress itself is true to size and when you order it please take your measurements correctly.  I went back and forth between two sizes and went for a size up and I am glad I did.  If a dress that is my size doesn’t fit me its usually because of the shoulders and not the hips, however this dress fit like a dream.  I was comfortable in it, I looked good in it, and even though I don’t drink, I felt like going to a cocktail party.

This is a fun, flirty dress.  The peplum style adds a little extra to the traditional little black dress but does not take away any of the style, timelessness, and sophistication.  I am so happy this is in my closet and I am excited to show it off the next time I go out to dinner.

Thank you to Glamour Boutique for providing this dress for this review.

Makeup by Corrie Dubay

Photography by Shannonlee McNeely

Love, Hannah

 

 

Spring Photo Shoot: Mesh Dress

A couple of weeks ago I had a photo shoot to highlight some products I was sent to review.  The first review was for Jolie Thigh Pads from The Breast Form Store and you can read my review here.  Shannonlee and I did some pictures against a white backdrop for the review photos, but the dress I wore was so fabulous that we did some photos for fun.  I hope you like them!

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Makeup by Corrie Dubay

Photography by Shannonlee

Dress by Momtuesdays 2 from Amazon

Love, Hannah

Not Pretty Enough

A few weeks ago I was sent a wig to review for my website.  It was a sandy blond color and the cut was very different than the black, shoulder-length style that I usually wear.  Shannonlee, my photographer who would be taking pictures for the review, asked me to send over some selfies of me wearing it so she can get an idea of the color for the shoot.

If there’s anything this girl likes, it’s taking a good selfie.

If there’s anything this girl hates, it’s taking a bad selfie.

I was having a good day.  I spent the day getting a makeover and wearing my new thigh pads with one of my favorite dresses.  I looked good, I felt good.  I got home and switched hairstyles and selfied away.  After a few pictures, I looked though them to see which were the best photos to send over.

They were terrible.  All of them.  The wig looked good, my makeup looked good, but everything else was just….humbling.  I hated how I looked in every single selfie.  I tried more photos, I tried different angles, nothing helped.  It was borderline devastating.  A flood of emotions and thoughts hit me.  Was this how I really looked?  Is this what I looked like all day?  Is this what people see when I am out?

I sent over two of the least terrible selfies and changed back into male mode.  My spirits were remarkably lower than they were fifteen minutes ago.  I deleted the photos as soon as I could.  I tend to go to extremes when I am stressed or worried or frustrated and this was no exception.  I think I look cute most of the time but maybe I was fooling myself.  It’s not about passing because there is no such thing, but how we feel about ourselves is often tied into how we feel about how we look.

We have all been here.  Sometimes this feeling lasts with us for a few days, sometimes we can shake it off after a moment or two, sometimes this crushes us so much that we never dress up again.  There have been times when I walked past a mirror at a department store and checked myself out.  It’s a real confidence booster to see a reflection that looks good, but there are times when… well, what reflects back is different than what you thought you would see.  These moments hurt and they catch us off guard.  All of a sudden that confident strut turns into something else.

There have been times when I bought a new outfit and sent an hour doing my makeup, choosing the perfect heels and accessories, and fixing my hair and feeling excited to go out and looking forward to seeing how everything comes together and then…wham!  You don’t look as cute as you hoped you would.  You were expecting a transformative moment but you still look like…you, but you with longer hair and lipstick.

A new outfit, new hair, amazing makeup can be a magical experience.  Every makeover I get from Corrie Dubay or MAC is amazing.  I can stare into the mirror and look for “me” but there is only Hannah.  But the opposite is true, too.  The more I dress, the less this happens as I know what I look like, I know what I will probably look like, but when this feeling hits it catches me unaware and cuts deep.

This happens.  To all of us.  This happens whether you are trans or cis.  We all know this heartbreaking, humbling, depressing feeling.  There are times when we just don’t feel cute.  There are times when I dress and I look and feel amazing, but the very next day I dress again and I feel absolutely horrible.

What some of us don’t know is that this is a real thing with a real name.  It’s called gender dysphoria.  According to Wikipedia, gender dysphoria is the distress a person feels due to their birth-assigned sex and gender not matching their gender identity.  People who experience gender dysphoria are typically transgender.

So, what do we do when this happens?  How I shake it off depends on how it’s hitting me.  Dysphoria hits me from a physical and from a psychological perspective.

About two years ago this feeling was hitting me hard and hitting me more often and for longer than it usually did.  Every time I did my makeup I just wanted to cry.  My face was very angular, my features harder, and overall structure was just very…well, not cute.  I had just lost a lot of weight and although I liked my new body and felt healthier, I missed my old face.  It was fuller, rounder, and had a different, softer look than what I had now.  Simply put, I hated how I looked and it was affecting how I felt about myself.

For years I had been doing my makeup for my old face.  I had my techniques, my methods, my tricks.  But I had a new face.  I needed to learn how to do makeup for it.  I scheduled a makeup lesson with Corrie and we discussed my goals and what I was struggling with.  We spent two hours going over new techniques, how to contour, different products and how to minimize and accentuate my features.

I felt like so much better.  I know this all sounds shallow but I think you know what I mean.  Even in male mode I feel better about myself after shaving when I let my facial hair grow for a week.  I don’t like looking, or feeling, like a slob.  I like to look my best regardless of what gender I am presenting as.  I feel just as good in a suit as I do in a summer dress.

But the psychological attacks can’t be overcome with a makeup lesson.  I can feel absolutely terrible about myself even after an expensive makeover and a new dress.  It’s usually triggered by how I look, but the voices and thoughts in my head are worse than any bad selfie.  Not pretty enough.  Too male.  Too ugly.  Quit fooling yourself.  You’re an embarrassment.  Stop doing this.  Throw your clothes out.

As I said, I tend to go to extremes.  These thoughts can break your heart.  These thoughts are hard to push out.  They linger and stick around and hit us when we least expect it.  These thoughts come back when we see a cute dress and that voice tells us that we’ll look awful in it.  They can cause us to purge but we all know purging is silly because in two weeks we are kicking ourselves for tossing out our stilettos that we spent $80 on only to have to replace them.

What helps me is knowing that these thoughts and feelings will pass.  I may be able to shake them off in a few hours or in a few days.  Sometimes they hang around in my head until the next time I dress up and get, in a way, a second chance.  More often than not the next time I dress up I will feel differently about myself and it erases any doubt or hurtful thoughts.  Sometimes looking at photos of me that I like helps.

We all have off days.  We all have bad days at work.  If we are artists not every painting will be good.  If we are carpenters we will sometimes hit our thumbs with hammers.  If we are chefs we will sometimes burn things.

It does not mean we should hang up our berets and aprons.  It just means we had a bad day and we need to try again.  An off day will sometimes create feelings of doubt, frustration, and depression.  A bad day will make us question our self-worth and make us wonder if what we’re doing is what we should really be doing.

A bad day just means we need to try again.  Sometimes we need to try more than once.  I have had weeks where every day at work is difficult and makes me want to find a new job, but then I’ll have an amazing Friday and everything turns around and I love life and the sun is shining and birds are singing and I wonder why I even wanted to quit in the first place.  Dressing and makeup are like that, too.

It’s also important for us to remember, especially in the early days, that no matter how expensive the makeup or the wig, we will not look like Kate Beckinsale, Sandra Bullock, Selena Gomez, or your favorite celebrity icon.  I remember the thrill and letdown of what I looked like after my first makeover.  I loved my look but at the same time I was disappointed I did not look like Elizabeth Hurley.  We must accept we will not look like them, but we will look like us.

As for the wig…I had my shoot two weeks ago and my review will be posted soon.  Of all the outfits we had to shoot that day I saved the wig for last because I remembered the selfies.  If that feeling hit again I didn’t want it to cloud over the whole shoot.  It’s not the wig’s fault, the hair is beautiful, it was the psychological trigger thew wig had on me.  I changed my hair and walked into the studio, nervous because of how I thought I looked and nervous because of how I looked a few weeks back.  Shannonlee took some photos, I changed back into my hair, and held my breath while I waited for the pictures.

A full review and photos will be coming soon, but here are a couple pictures from that day.

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I heart them.  I love the color, I love my smile, I love my look.  I am a different girl than the one who took bathroom selfies. What changed?  The wig is the same, my makeup was professionally done both times.  But we can never forget that there is a difference between a selfie and pictures by a professional photographer.  Lighting and camera angles make a difference, too.

I am also bad at selfies.

These are things that I will remember the next time this feeling hits.  Because it will.  Maybe tomorrow, maybe in a month.  But it will happen.  You are not alone in feeling this.  You feel this.  I feel this.  Our partners feel this.  Everyone reading this sentence feels this.  We all feel this more often than we would like but this does, and will, pass.

I may not look like Elizabeth Hurley, but I look (most of the time) exactly like Hannah McKnight.  And that is a wonderful feeling.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

Knocking You Out With My American Thighs

I do not believe there is a standard anyone must meet in order to identify as or look like a woman.  I do not believe that anyone, trans or cis, can be too tall, too broad shouldered, too thin, or too anything to be the gender we identify as.

I’ve worked hard to be able to present how I would like to, whether it was taking makeup lessons or losing weight.  Losing weight and dropping from a size 20 to a size 12 helps me live a healthier life and I like how I look in clothes more than ever, whether it is a suit or a bodycon dress.  The only drawback to losing weight was losing a little curve when I wore a dress.

All of that has changed with Jolie Thigh Pads from The Breast Form Store.

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I would like to thank The Breast Form store for sending these pads to review.  When I opened the package I was really surprised at how soft they felt.  Since they are self-adhesive I did not need to use any tape or spray.  However, if you are going to wear a dress or a skirt but not pantyhose or tights, I would recommend using an adhesive just in case.

The color of the pads looked natural against my skin color and are available in several skin tones.

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They are made of silicone and they felt soft and…well, real.  Even before getting dressed I could see the immediate impact on how they made me look.  The pink lines on the photo below indicate approximately where I am wearing the pads.   The pads themselves are bigger than I would have expected (sixteen inches long and eight inches wide), but they really give off a nice little…oomph to my figure.

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For the first day I wore them with leggings.  I wore them for about eight hours at home and the difference was remarkable.  I looked curvy.  I felt curvy.  I had hips!  Leggings are wonderful and they hug your body so the difference between wearing the pads and not wearing them was instantly noticeable.  They gave me an hourglass shape I never had before.

The pads moved with me.  They were as part of me as anything could be.  Except for checking myself out in every mirror of the house, I forgot I was wearing them.  Under my leggings they felt like, well, my thighs and hips.  No matter if I was sitting legs crossed or walking or going up and down stairs, the pads moved with me.  I never noticed them.  They did warm comfortably to my skin but they never felt sweaty or heavy.  They were…my thighs.

I wore them all day and forgot I had them on.  When it was time to change, I wondered how it would feel to remove them.  After eight hours they were a part of me and never became loose or slid from where I placed them.  They were easy to remove and were stored in the plastic packaging they came in.

The next day I wore them with my femme jeans.  Like leggings, these jeans hugged my body and the difference was very clear.  No matter the angle, I could see how much curvier my body was.  The pads had a natural effect on my shape.  I felt…amazing.  We all know how we look can impact how we feel and I hadn’t been this excited about dressing in years.

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Over the next few days I raided my wardrobe and tried on a lot my dresses with the pads.  Dresses are often designed for someone with hips and the pads helped make my dresses look amazing.  Skirts hung differently.  My hands rested naturally on my new hips and every outfit looked better than before.

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After a week of wearing them in male mode at home, it was time to dress up and go out.  I had plans to see a play for a few weeks and I had a dress already picked out.  However, the pads changed my mind.  Instead I wore one of my favorite leather dresses.  Leather is pretty unforgiving and I was excited to see how I looked.  I looked amazing.  Before this dress kind of just… hung on to me, but now the dress hugged my new curvy body.  I was afraid that it would be obvious I was wearing pads but they stayed in place and tapered and blended nicely to my body.

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The only thing I had to adjust was changing the size of tights and pantyhose I wear.  Normally I would use the little chart on the packaging to determine my size.  If I was in a gray area, I would usually get the size that was for my height.  Now that I have hips I need to factor in my new curvier shape instead of my height.

I’ve often said that it takes time, money, mistakes, and patience to create ourselves.  Mastering new skills, whether it is painting a piece of fine art or perfecting your makeup, we should be prepared to invest energy, time, and money.  Depending on the size you choose, these pads range from $300 to $350.  That may seem expensive, however keep in mind that these pads are designed to last a long time.  I think of the pads as an investment.

I have worn my pads for the past few weeks and I absolutely love them.  If you are looking to fill out a dress or add more curve to your figure, I cannot recommend these pads enough.

Thank you to The Breast Form Store for providing the Jolie Thigh Pads for this review.

Makeup by Corrie Dubay

Photography by Shannonlee McNeely

Love, Hannah

 

SEX

Now that I have your attention…

Accepting yourself and identifying as transgender is one of the most significant and life-changing moments you will ever experience.  This acceptance can lead to feeling anxious, feeling free, feeling burdened, feeling confused, or even just feeling relieved that we have touched on why we feel what we feel and figured out who we are.

This embracing of yourself will often lead to the question of what’s next.  Okay, you’re trans, this is more than just about wearing panties, what do you do now?  The short and bitchy answer is, well, anything you want.  You can go fishing if you so desire.  Being transgender is not like building a bookshelf from Ikea.  There is no clear step two.   There may not even be a step two.  You don’t even have to do anything next.  Well, you should have a conversation with your partner, of course.

But there usually is a next step.  We usually want to…well, keep going.  We learned and accepted something huge about our gender identity and it’s normal to keep going in that direction.  It’s not much different than being on an airplane and not getting off when it lands.  For some of us we want to try other clothes.  That dresser full of lingerie might be a start of a new wardrobe.  We own a dress…but maybe we should find a cute pair of heels to go with it.  Maybe the next step is seeking support from a group or a therapist or counselor.  Maybe it’s time to talk to a doctor or your family.  Maybe you are ready to schedule that makeover.

Or maybe you don’t do anything.  You don’t HAVE to do anything next.  You don’t have to do anything right away.  For some of us we lived with the conflict or uncertainty of who we were for decades.  It took a long time to get to the point where we accepted that we are transgender.  But making decisions too quickly and without thinking things through is a bad thing.  Beware the pink fog.

Acceptance of yourself is more important than passing.  Mainly because accepting yourself is real and passing is not.  If I waited to experience the real world until I “passed” I would still be sitting in my car in the garage.  When I think about everything I have experienced or done over the last few years it makes me so happy that I opened the door, strutted out and never looked back.  It makes me wonder what else I missed before I was convinced I needed to pass.  I never passed.  Still don’t.  Never will.

Once you accept yourself and start experiencing the world presenting as your preferred gender (and this can be your preferred gender for the day or for the rest of your life), you have grown more powerful than ever before, even if your knees are knocking and you shake in the heels that you practiced walking in for weeks.  You will interact with the world and the world will react to you.  This will result in varying outcomes, some wonderful, most of them mundane and unremarkable…but there will be some that will break your heart and some that will make you angry.  Some will make you want to go home and never leave again.  All of these things will happen.  Sometimes in the same afternoon.  Yes, someone will likely give you a dirty look but remember, this will never be okay.  Don’t let some jerk steal your sparkle.

Whether you are dressed from head to toe in wig and heels or in male mode with painted nails, when you are outside the traditional social gender norms you will experience the world in a new way.  And you will likely want more.  I know I did.  The first real time I went out during the day it was just to experience something as every day as getting a coffee.  But that went well and I wanted to do something more.  So I did.  A trip to Target, a couple of malls, more coffee shops…

Over the last few years I have done so many things I never thought I would be brave enough to attempt.  Whether it was a makeover or a trip to the mall to try on dresses or attending a Pride festival, I’ve experienced more than I ever thought possible.  There’s very little left that I can think of that I still want to do.  Some of these things I did because I simply wanted to see what it was like to shoe shopping en femme.  No surprise, but it was a lot more fun.

The point is that many of us want to experience things en femme.  This can range from everything from watching a movie at home dressed to the nines, doing laundry in leggings to wearing a negligee during sex.

So, let’s talk about sex and the t-girl.

This is a very intimate, serious, and sensitive subject.  There is nothing more personal than the sexual relationship between two people.  Obviously I am not going to share anything about my own experiences here or…ever.  Instead I want to talk more broadly about what many in our community and their partners have shared with me regarding their experiences.

I go back and forth as to whether or not I wear what I wear because I am transgender or I am transgender because I wear what I wear.  I think kind of a gateway to something new and something bigger.  Perhaps something fascinating and forbidden.  It was ingrained in us at early age that boys do not wear bras or nightgowns which only fuels the curiosity, intrigue, and longing.  Lingerie is a beautiful secret that you wear.  Going to the office wearing lacy panties and matching bra under your suit is really kind of amazing.  Its something you wear for yourself…or possibly for someone else.  Someone might wear sexy undies to bed because they like it, or they wear it because their partner likes it.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that there are some who dressing up is nothing more than fetish and is completely sexual.  Simply put, dressing turns them on, they wear lingerie (or whatever) when they want to…ah, well, you know.  They dress up, they have sex, or masturbate and…that’s that.  Until the next time.  Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with this.  You do you, I guess.  But like anything sexual between two people, both have to be on board.

It is not unheard of that a t-girl wanting to wear lingerie in intimate moments.  Lingerie might help someone feel beautiful no matter what they are doing, during sex or simply under your clothes when you go grocery shopping.  Someone wearing a lacy nightie to bed is something they are doing for themselves, and possibly for their partner.  However, t-girls need to be aware that surprising their partner by doing something similar can be… well, it probably won’t go as planned, especially the first time.

This is one of those moments that both partners involved want to avoid.  Nothing derails a moment like an awkward (to say the least) surprise.  This is something that should be discussed before it happens, especially if going outside traditional gender norms regarding clothes is new to the relationship.  Don’t tell your wife you are a crossdresser on Friday and then greet her in the bedroom on Saturday wearing a corset and stockings. (Unless she asks, of course.)  Communication between a couple is important and it’s never more evident than when it comes to intimacy, fantasies, and what happens in bed.  Or the living room, if you are so inclined.

Many t-girls and crossdressers want to experience things as a different gender identity.  Sometimes it’s going shopping en femme and sometimes it’s being intimate en femme.  This is not uncommon.  However, your wife being okay with you wearing panties under your work clothes is not the same as her being okay with you wearing them in an intimate moment.  You should not assume she will be.

The best, and only way to know what your partner is comfortable with in the bedroom (or anywhere) is to ask.  Tell them what you want to try, what you want to wear.  If they are not comfortable with it, then drop it.  It may be hard to let go of a fantasy or a desire, but…drop it.  Move on.  Seriously.  If they change their mind they will let you know.  You don’t need to ask again.  Drop it.

If you partner is receptive to you dressing in bed, wonderful.  Their feelings are still something you need to be conscious of.  Maybe she wants to be the pretty one in bed sometimes.  Maybe leave the lingerie in your drawer once in a while.  She may feel intimidated by your matching bra, garter belt, panties and stockings when all she has on is a simple teddy.  She may not want to have sex with a woman.  She might want to have sex with her husband.  Again, beware of the pink fog.  Sometimes it clouds our judgment, sometimes we choose to let it cloud our judgement.  I think you know what I mean.

We know being in a relationship with someone like us is not easy.  This is part of that.  Be kind.  Be generous.  Be worth it.

Driving a car is different in heels, having sex in heels (among other things) is different too.  Some crossdressers and t-girls may, well, take on a different role.  Or different behaviors.  They may want different positions, accessories, different role-playing scenarios…  Some want to be called their female name.  Sometimes these changes are a turn on for our partner…sometimes it isn’t.  You and your wife watching a movie while you are dressed up is not the same thing as you being in bed en femme with her.  Don’t assume your partner is okay with “her” in your living room and the bedroom.  Again, communication.  Both verbal and non-verbal.  Pay attention.  If your partner is communicating something to you, don’t ignore it.  Don’t pretend that you aren’t picking up on it.  Communicate.  Before.  After.  During.

If gender is…well, flexible, then it stands that sexuality can be as well.  Some t-girls say they are straight in male mode but bisexual as a girl.  Some are attracted to men when they dress up, or at least that’s when they admit it.  Dressing en femme can bring about different feelings.  Different aspects or parts of our personality can appear when we are wearing certain clothes.  Some men feel confident in a certain suit, some feel a sense of hometown pride when their wear their team’s football jersey.  Some guys get a boost of confidence from a pair of expensive sneakers.  When I am dressed I feel different, too.  I don’t feel like sleeping with a man, but I feel more social, chattier, and braver.

There are those who feel the attention from men helps them feel more like a woman.  The attention validate them.  It’s flattering to some.  Some t-girls and crossdressers want to experience as many things as they can en femme and for some that includes having, or fantasizing about, sex with men.

To the partners out there, yes, I know this is a fear.  It’s hard enough finding out your beer drinking, Fantasy Football playing man likes to dress up, but the fear that they might want to be with another guy is a different level.  There is nothing more important than trust between two people, and many partners entered into committed relationships without the full disclosure of their partner’s gender identity.  It’s not uncommon to feel betrayed, deceived, or mislead.  There’s no excuse for lying.

Will your partner want to be with a man?  Maybe?  Sexual and romantic preference and gender identity have little in common, so while it’s understandable to worry that they will want to be with another male because they wear lingerie in bed, it’s not necessarily the same thing.  I do not believe it is inappropriate to ask your partner this question.  Your partner coming out as a crossdresser or transgender or as someone who likes to dress up every once in a while will trigger a lot of questions, feelings, and confusion.  You are trying to process this.  This is likely new territory for you.  Ask us anything you want.

I know its not easy.  I know it can be…shocking, off-putting, a mood killer, even heartbreaking and devastating to see your man in a corset and panties.  It’s a lot to take in.  This doesn’t mean you aren’t supportive of the LGBTQIA community.  You fight for equality and love your gay friends, but seeing your spouse in a garter belt is a little different.  You choose your partner for many different reasons.  You choose them because of their personality, sense of humor, interests, and probably because of their appearance.  You were, and hopefully still are, attracted to them.  Seeing someone you love in a dramatically different gender presentation, whether it is everything from wig to those cute bedroom heels or them wearing a simple nightgown takes some time.  It may take a few minutes or it may takes years or it may never happen.  And that’s okay.  Tell them how you feel.  You can be an ally and a fighter for the community even when you struggle with your emotions and thoughts regarding your partner’s gender identity.  Your feelings count too.  And you will have feelings about this.

You may feel that this isn’t the person you married.  We insist we are.  Many of us tell our partners that whether we are wearing lingerie or a suit that we are still the same person.  I don’t think this is necessarily true.  Coming out and accepting yourself changes someone.  We feel braver but at the same time we are feeling more vulnerable.  We just shared something that for decades was a secret.  This becomes an elephant in the room.  In the days, weeks, and months ahead this hangs over the pair of you.  It can create tension, stress, and unspoken thoughts.  Resentment, albeit temporary, is not unheard of.  It can consume both you and partner.  While you might be trying to not to think about it, we might be dying to talk about it.  We may want to ask for help with shopping or applying eyeliner.  We want our partners to go out with us.  We want to share this side of us with the most important person in our life.  We have been wanting to tell you since the day we met.  We have for years kept this side of us private and now we are ready to slam the pedal to the metal.

But we lived with the secret for years.  Our partners need time to catch up.  They cannot go as fast as we are ready to.  We feel we are the same person regardless of how we are dressed…because this is who we have been our entire lives.  But we have just revealed another side of us, the biggest side of us and it’s understandable that others in our lives might look at us in a different light, at least for a while.

Our partners are processing this.  And it’s not easy for us to be patient as they do that.  We are wondering what they are thinking and the reality is that they are thinking a million things.  Or they might be trying to not think about it.  They can’t always express just exactly what they are feeling or going through.  Your partner looks and thinks of you differently.  You have something about you that they never suspected.  They may have thought there was…something about you that they couldn’t quite put their finger on, but this probably wasn’t what they imagined.

I felt different when I came out to my wife, my mom, and my siblings.  I wasn’t the same person.  It was a feeling of…well, like there was a new reality.  They knew about me, they knew the half of me that was a secret that I kept every single day up until that point.  It was awkward, it was uncomfortable at times.  I gave them space and was honest with their questions.  We can do no less for our partners.

Think back to when you’ve come out to someone.  Life all of a sudden felt different, didn’t it?  You feel different.  You might feel a weight has been lifted or that you turned the world inside-out.  My point is that we might think we are the same person before and after we come out.  We might think we are the same person whether we are in jeans or a nightgown.  But we know we are not.

Finding a balance between more than one gender identity is not easy but it can be done.  We need to find that balance in our own lives, but we also need to make sure the balance works (as much as it can work) for our partners.  It might not.  I am not going to suggest that every marriage will be able to make it work.  In many relationships this is not what our partners signed up or what they expected.  If your partner does not want this in their relationship it does not make them a bad person.  This is a lot to ask of someone and it’s a reminder why it is important and necessary to come out to your partner before the relationship gets serious.

Finding a personal balance varies from person to person.  We might want to dress up three times a week, but that might be too much for your partner.  It’s not that different (but it’s also totally different) than you if you wanted to go out for beers with the guys after work several times a week.  Be considerate of your partner’s feelings.  Be there with them.  Be present.  Be worth it.

All the time.

In every room of the house.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coloring Outside the Lines

I have FABULOUS eyebrows.

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Yes, I love how I look.  Yes, I know it gets annoying.  But I work hard to have the body that I have.  Are there parts I wish I could change?  Sure, but as I get older I find it harder to think of what those changes could be.  Ten years ago I would have loved to be eight inches shorter, my shoulders less broad and my hands smaller but I don’t believe in passing and I am beautiful no matter how tall I am.  (I do wish I could wear a smaller shoe size so I could expand my heels collection, but you can’t win them all.)

I take care of my skin, I moisturize, and I exfoliate.  I do this because my skin is, well, skin is important.  A good makeover starts with good skin.  You need to take care of your skin at all times, not just the day of a makeover.  Your dentist knows if you just start flossing two days before your check-up.  Your makeup artist knows when you started to exfoliate.

Corrie Dubay of Femme Makeovers has written about skin care in her newsletter and she has kindly given permission to reprint her writings.  You can (and should) read them here.

Many men regard skin care as a “girl” thing.  Now, I have noticed that many men also have skin so the idea that taking care of your skin is something that only women do is kind of baffling to me.  Like leggings, clean and healthy skin that is well taken care of feels amazing and, like leggings, is something too many men won’t ever experience.

Taking care of my skin is something that both of my genders benefit from.  It helps with shaving and ingrown hairs and makes it easier to apply foundation.

There may be things that many of us want to do with our skin, our bodies, and our wardrobe that we are hesitant to do because it might leave, well, let’s call it evidence, of our femme side.  Skin care is not one of those things, however.  I don’t think anyone looks at my pores and thinks that I have beautiful dresses in my closet because I take care of my skin.

I also don’t care most people think.  It’s easy to not care what others think when you don’t actually know what others think.

Accepting yourself goes hand in hand with giving no regard to what others might think about you.  But for those of us in relationships our partners and their feelings are important and must be taken into consideration.  You might not care if anyone notices leftover traces of your bright red nails while you are in male mode, but your wife might not be comfortable with that.

In male mode I never really liked my eyebrows.  They were thick, bushy and curly and were growing closer with each passing year.  But I never really noticed them until I started wearing makeup and realized at how much they stood out.  Do you need to have pencil-thin eyebrows to be a woman?  To be beautiful?  Of course not.  There are no expectations or standards one must meet to identify as female.  Eyebrows are also one of those things that have trends that come and go pretty frequently.  My eyebrows might be stylish today but might be soooooo 2018 in a couple of days.

I like to keep my eyebrows well-maintained.  It drives me crazy when they look unruly as the stray hairs start to grow back.  There’s really no getting around the fact that if you do start to shape, thin and/or arch your brows they will look more feminine which is exactly the effect some of us are going for.  I get my brows threaded (google or youtube it), but you can also have them waxed.  If you decide to have a professional groom your brows, tell them what you want.  When I get my brows done, I ask the technician to clean them up, but I can also ask them to define them, shape them and thin them…either by a little or by a lot.  They are professionals, and trust me, you won’t be the first man to ask for a little definition in your brows.

However, the truth is that most men do not groom and trim their eyebrows, so it’s quite likely yours will be noticed when in male mode…but it is not very likely that anyone will say anything.  How often do you discuss someone’s eyebrows with them?

Has anyone ever mentioned my eyebrows to me?  Yes.  When I am getting makeovers the artist will often tell me that I have fabulous brows.  Has anyone commented on them while presenting in male mode?  Yes, but only from girls.  Girls notice things.  Girls appreciate a good brow.  If the girl at Starbucks notices them, you can bet your wife’s sister does too, however.  More on that later.

I know, the idea of shaping your brows can give you the look you want in girl mode, but it also will change your appearance in male mode.  Will people notice?  The short answer is probably.  They might.  Will people care?  Maybe?  But why would they?  I don’t care what your brows look like.  I care about mine, no one else’s.  I suspect you are the same.  Will they say something? Probably not.  How many times in your life have you come up to someone and said something about their eyebrows?

The point is that people might notice, they might care, but you’ll probably never know what they think.  It’s highly unlikely they’ll say something and I doubt many of us ask others about their opinions on our eyebrows.

So, pluck, wax, and thread away.  If you want.  You don’t have to do anything extreme.  You don’t have to do anything at all.  A simple and subtle arch and grooming can make a lot of difference.  Corrie also has written about eyebrow options here.

In addition to me loving my brows, I also have legs for days.

 

I promise all of this will come together.

I love my legs.  I work hard to have the legs that I have.  I am very tall and although I was initially bothered at how my height prevented me from blending in better, I realized that having long legs is worth it.  I like keeping my legs in shape and three hours a week on the Stairmaster at the gym helps me do that.

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I’ve been shaving my legs for years now and it’s hard for me to remember having hairy legs.  I remember the first time I shaved them, however.  It was AMAZING.  Pro tip: if you do start shaving your legs you may want to give them a quick run with a pair of electric clippers first.

At first I was nervous about having smooth legs (and eventually arms) and was worried about what people would think and say.  But no one said anything.  I don’t know what people think because I don’t ask them what they think.  Notice a pattern?  Shaving my legs, like my fabulous eyebrows, are not a typical conversation topic.  People usually have more to worry about than my grooming routine, or at least I hope they do.

But shaving your legs and arms and arching your brows are not things guys typically do.  It’s naive to think no one will notice.  It’s not likely anyone will say anything, though.  The first time you talk to someone after having your eyebrows waxed you will probably feel as if everyone is staring at you.  They might be.  They might be looking at your face and realizing something has changed but they are not sure what.  Or they know but are processing it.  They may say something, but in my experience they probably won’t.

And if they do?  If someone says to me that I have great eyebrows I tell them thank you.  99% of the time the conversation stops there.  What else is there to say?  If someone asks me if I shave my legs I tell them I bike a lot.  Which is true.  It helps with keeping my legs looking shapely.   But no one asks.  I don’t think people think twice about it.

You are under no obligation to explain or apologize to anyone… unless you have a partner.  Want to shave your legs?  Sure, it’s your body, but we need to keep our partner’s feelings in consideration.  We will likely feel a little paranoid that everyone is staring at your newly groomed eyebrows…but your wife is likely feeling just as on edge as you are.

Probably more.

I underdress all the time.  Underdressing is a way to stay connected to that part of me that is beautiful when I am in boy mode.  A cute pair of lacy undies with a pink bow on them is about as femme as you can get when it comes to clothing.  But there are other things that I wear that do not scream GIRL as loud as a pair of panties.

As a boy I am very much a t-shirt and jeans person.  Hannah is very much a heels, stockings, winged eyeliner and a dress to kill kind of girl.  I have boy t-shirts and jeans and I have girl t-shirts and jeans.  Hannah doesn’t wear the girl tees and jeans, but I do in male mode.

I feel obligated to reiterate that I do not think that clothes are for boys or girls.  Heels and…uh, football jerseys, I guess, are for all of us.  When I say boy jeans and girl shirts I am referring to what part of the store that you can find these items in.

There’s no question that girl jeans tees are softer.  True, they are cut differently and have like no pockets, but I think they are simply more comfortable to wear.  Same with girl tees.  The necklines are different and the sleeves might be shorter but they do not feel as course as the boy version.

Some cis-women I know get frustrated about the endless options of jeans and shirts.  Want a black t-shirt?  Great!  Target has a zillion options.  Some are the cold-shoulder look, some have mid-length sleeves, some have a mesh overlay on top, some have an open back and require a different bra style with them.  And jeans are not easier.  Skinny, boyfriend, boot length and countless others.

If I need boy clothes it takes about thirty seconds of shopping and I’m done.  It’s easy but it’s also kind of boring.  I love the variety that is available on the other side of the store.  I like girl shirts with a large scoop neck so I can wear a cute cami or tank under it.  I love tees with mid-length sleeves.  But to be fair I am not shopping on that side of the store for any practical reason.  I am not looking for clothes for my everyday wardrobe.  If I lived full-time I would have a different perspective on shopping.

I wear girl jeans on a regular basis, but I do take into consideration what I am doing that day.  Running errands or staying home?  Sure.  Dinner with friends?  Probably not.  Now, I don’t think there are many noticeable differences between my boy jeans and girl jeans… but I might be seeing (or not seeing) what I want (or don’t want) to see.  I don’t get caught up in the pink fog as much as I used to but I recognize that sometimes I tell myself that this pair of jeans or this shirt look less girly than it really does.

Again, I don’t know or care what someone at the mall thinks about my clothes, regardless of what gender I present as.  But I do care that my wife’s friend might notice that my jeans look a little like her jeans.  Again, we need to be considerate of our partner’s feelings.  Someone might not say anything to us, but they might say something to our wife.

Our wives know that someone might notice.  They know someone might say something to them.  Or worse, someone says something behind her back and it becomes gossip.  It’s understandable that she might be terrified of that.  She probably is.  Our partners share the weight of our secret.  It’s not fair to them.  We need to remember that.  We should not take any risks that could potentially embarrass, or worse, our partners.

There are things boys do and there are things boys wear.  There are also things that boys do not do and there are things boys do not wear.  This is silly.  It’s okay to go beyond the typical societal norm and expectations of gender.  Everyone reading this paragraph likely knows that.  We know that it’s okay to color outside the lines, so to speak.  I just wish everyone else knew that, too.