In Her Shoes

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I recently received an email from a t-girl who has started to venture out into the world en femme when she experienced something that was a bit of a surprise to her.  Normally in male mode she felt very confident, but en femme she felt… insecure.  After she mentioned it, I started to think about it as well.

When I go anywhere presenting as male, I never look over my shoulder.  I never worry about my safety.  I walk downtown, in a parking ramp, across an entire mall, and never think about whether or not I am in any danger.  I never worry if someone will harass me.

But Hannah is always aware of her surroundings.  I can tell you who is around, who I am wary of, where the nearest exit is, if it came to that.  My comfort level drops significantly when I am not presenting as male.  This is something that many transgender people can relate to.

Regardless of whether or not this shift has more to do with presenting as a girl or being out as a t-girl isn’t important.  Rather I think this is a reflection of the privilege that those who present as male have.

I looked forward to being out in the word en femme for years until I finally found the courage to.  When I did it, I realized not only how amazing and wonderful it was, but also how different of an experience it was compared to decades of being in public and never worrying about my surroundings.  Living in the real world in high heels was a new, beautiful, and terrifying change.

It’s not that I am not confident en femme.  Anyone who visits this blog will likely be able to tell within a few minutes I am very confident and comfortable with who I am.  Perhaps even obnoxiously so.  After my makeup appointment the other day  I strutted through the mall in my four inch stilettos and my tight dress and my $65 makeover.  I felt bulletproof, I felt like a goddess.

But it was such contrast to how I felt two hours before.  I arrived at the mall before most stores opened, so I killed time by sitting on a bench, trying not to be noticed and looking at my phone.  As brave as it is to leave the house en femme, it’s ever harder to leave without my makeup being finished.  Normally when I get a makeover I will do my foundation and leave the rest to the artist, so sitting and waiting for Ulta to open, and looking for very male, was really uncomfortable.  I felt insecure with how I looked.  I felt ugly.  I know I don’t pass, but in moments like these I feel more clocked than normal.

Though I felt invincible after my appointment, in reality I knew I was also very fragile.  I knew all it would take to destroy my self-esteem was one cruel comment, a smirk, someone pointing at me.  Usually I am able to shake things like that off, though.

Usually.

So even when I feel and look amazing, I am also on guard.  My confidence is genuine, but it’s also prone to collapsing at the same time.  This is such a big difference compared to when I am presenting as male.  Whenever I am en femme and feeling… unsafe, paranoid, watched, I am reminded about how I never feel these things in male mode.  Walking in Hannah’s shoes reminds me that this is how many women feel all the time.

And honestly?  Feeling this way is terrible.  I can’t imagine feeling that way every time I go out.  These moments are a reminder that for those of us who occasionally present as male, we all need to be gentlemen.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

Mall of America Photo Shoot!

Yesterday my friend Shannonlee did a photo shoot for En Femme’s new fall/winter line.  We did the pictures at the Mall of America because we wanted to take holiday themed photos and the mall’s halls were decked and it gave us exactly the setting we wanted.

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Going out in public hasn’t been new for a long time, but the Mall of America is one of the biggest attractions in the country and it can be intimidating to go someplace with so many people.  Although most times I have gone out have been extremely boring and amazing, there have been a few annoyingly rude people.  One such person I encountered was at the Mall of America a few years ago and I couldn’t help but think of that person yesterday.

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But as I said, I have had more positive moments (by an overwhelming margin) than negative.  Yesterday was no different.  I had so many people come to me complimenting me on my dress or heels or just looking fabulous.  It was amazing.  Not because I need the compliments, but when someone goes out their way to compliment a t-girl, it shows that they support our community.  And these days a reminder of that is wonderful.

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Love, Hannah

 

 

 

Six Years of the MN T-Girls!

This weekend marks the sixth anniversary of the MN T-Girls!

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Almost every month (one month was canceled due to… reasons) for the past six years t-girls from all over Minnesota, and often times from outside the state, have met for coffee, plays, shopping, makeup demonstrations, as well as for support and friendship.

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Having planned almost one hundred of these monthly events, I am still a little surprised at the success of these outings.

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I tell myself that I will keep planning these outings as long as others show up.  There have been outings where only two t-girls come, and there have been events with close to thirty.  Some events are hits, some are… well, not so much.  Each event and each t-girl teaches me about how to run a club (if you will), but I also learn so much about our community.

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So, in honor of the sixth anniversary of the MN T-Girls, I wanted to share six things about our community that I learned after meeting hundreds of girls like us.

You are not alone

I think the internet has made us realize that there are more people like us than we could have imagined.  However we identify, there are others like us.  Whether we live between genders or we live somewhere in the middle, or we are starting hormones or have transitioned, there are more like us than you ever knew.

We T-Girls can be anything

Although many of us are protective of any details that are associated with our male lives, there are equally others who are open about the other side of their closet.  We can be husbands, boyfriends, fathers, sons, and brothers.  We can also be airline pilot, forklift drivers, realtors, retail managers and engineers.  You can never be sure who the male presenting individuals are in your life really are… or what they wear under their suit.

Different like you

One of the hardest things about coming out is explaining who we are.  Yes, I am transgender but identifying as transgender is different than Caitlin Jenner identifying as transgender.  I like to present as a girl, but I don’t always want to or need to.  I love feeling beautiful, I have no interest in men, I don’t feel I was born in the wrong body.  We understand each other.  We know who we are, we don’t need to explain it.

I’ll be there for you

We need each other.  We need to have friends who are like us.  Not only do we need people in our lives who understand us, but we often have complicated lives and having people around us who we can relate to is incredibly important.

No one cares

I have walked across malls, parking ramps, downtown, parks, auditoriums, and restaurants.

I have used the ladies room at coffee shops, Target, theaters, book stores, nightclubs, and grocery stores.

I have chatted with servers, baristas, lingerie clerks, gas station employees, makeup artists, and police officers.

I have been out in the real world for a long time and although there have been a couple unpleasant moments, I’ve realized that most people rarely give a girl like me a second look or a second thought.

The MN T-Girls have been all over the Twin Cities, and yes, it’s not every day you see a group of transgender women at a restaurant and we do get a few stares, but I am happy that each outing has been free of incidents and have always had positive interactions with others.  Safety is my number one priority with the group and I do what I can to make sure we are going somewhere safe and welcoming.

T-Girls just want to have fun

After six years of planning events it’s not always easy to come up with something for the group to do.  I like to get ideas from the girls about what they would like to do en femme.  The suggestions are always rather small.  Go out to dinner, go shopping, meet new friends.  T-girls aren’t necessarily looking to something HUGE and AMAZING, but doing something as normal as getting a cup of coffee en femme is an amazing experience many of us have dreamed of for years.  Something mundane that we do in male mode suddenly becomes super fun when dressed up.

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When I started the MN T-Girls, I did so with the goal of making friends with other t-girls.  Yes, going out en femme is fun, but after a while it gets lonely.  I wanted friends I could go to the mall or out to dinner with.  Beyond simply making friends, I wanted others to experience the real world.  Going out en femme is amazing, especially those first few times.  I understood why it’s scary, but it was more wonderful than I had hoped it could be.  Leaving the house is not easy, it’s a scary world for a girl, but going out in a group, or at least with a friend, makes it a lot safer and more fun.

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My final goal wasn’t necessarily for girls like us.  It was for the rest of the world.  I wanted the world to see girls like me out at restaurants, shopping, at a museum, or at a play.  I wanted the world to see us doing normal, boring, everyday things.  I wanted the world to see that girls like us are girls like other girls.  This goal was a little ambitious but a girl can dream.

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I am fortunate to be a part of this group.  I feel that the group is important and has achieved what I wanted it to achieve.  I am not sure what the group will do next but the membership keeps growing which makes me happy, but the simple fact that the group has existed for as long as it has is surprising to me.

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To every t-girl out there, it is an honor to be a member of our community.

Love, Hannah

 

PFLAG Events in November

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.

November’s meeting will feature Minnesota author Ali Sands who wrote “Love Appears in Whatever Form It Chooses”.

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Ali Sands shares her experience in finding her own identity as her partner transitioned from female to male. Using humor, education and providing safe spaces for public listening, Ali creates an inclusive environment for learning about gender, identity and relationships

Please join them for their November meeting.
Tuesday, November 19th at 6:30 pm
Union Congregational Church
3700 Alabama Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55416
Love, Hannah

Ask Hannah!

I am hoping for some advice on taking my sister in law shopping for the first time. She recently transitioned and has asked for my help going shopping for more feminine clothing, not that I’m a fashionista by any means. I am so excited to bond with her in this way but I want to be as respectful as possible in what choices I offer as far as clothing and if there are any tips on making the experience as comfortable as possible for her too. If you have any guidance for me on styles that would be the most comfortable or flattering in these early stages of transition I would be forever grateful. She is a super tall, super skinny, gorgeous woman and I want to help her feel that way every day.
Thank you!

Building a wardrobe is one of the most fun, but overwhelming things we will ever do.  I have had to needed to shop for new clothes for male mode when I got a new job for example, but shopping for Hannah is a completely different, but much more fun (and expensive) experience.

When it comes to my wardrobe, I have clothes for every occasion.  Whether it is a sparkly dress for a holiday party or something casual for a day at the mall, I have an outfit (and shoes and accessories) to mach.

What I would recommend is to start by thinking about her goals.  Everyone needs clothes, but what is she looking for?  Professional attire for her job?  Comfy staples for running errands?  Start slow, start small, and then go from there.

Another goal to keep in mind is what style of clothes is she looking for.  Not only from a personal preference perspective (say that three times fast!) but from a physical one as well.  I am not very curvy but I like to create an illusion of hips.  My Jolie Thigh Pads from The Breast Form Store help a lot, but I also love what a cute peplum dress does for my figure.

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I like showing off my legs, so my dresses and skirts tend to be on the short side.  Granted, when you are over six feet tall a dress will usually be on the short side anyway.  I also like to avoid exposing my shoulders.  I have plenty of dresses that are sleeveless, but I usually don’t wear spaghetti straps.  Many of us have features we like to show off as well as features we like to downplay.

Truth be told, I know (and care) very little about fashion.  I wear what I like and what I think is cute.  Putting together a skirt and top combination is something I struggle with, but I find mannequins and Instagram quite helpful, to be honest.  This outfit is cute…

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… but everything I am wearing is exactly what a mannequin at H&M wore.  It looked cute on the mannequin and I thought I could pull it off.  Matching a strip top with a tan skirt was not something I thought would work, but seeing it on display won me over.

I look at the style category on Instagram for inspiration as well.  I saw a lot of girls wearing cute, pleated skirts and I had to have one.  The problem was knowing what top to pair with it.  I saw a lot of girls wearing a sleek black top with the skirt, so I thought a black bodysuit would be perfect.

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I think I was right.

I don’t try to keep up with trends or what’s in at the moment.  It would be exhausting to try to keep up.  Everyone should wear what they want to wear.

I would also recommend knowing your measurements.  Dress Barn and Forever 21 both have different ideas what a size 12 dress is, but if you know your measurements it will make shopping (especially shopping online) a million times easier.

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Knowing her goals and measurements are important, but the most important thing a t-girl needs, whether it is shopping or anything else, is something you have already given her: support.

You are a gem to help her, encourage her, and shop with her.  I would rather hit the mall with a supportive person than a fashion writer.  It’s obvious you are supportive and enthusiastic about helping her and right now (and always), she will need that more anything.

Have fun!

Love, Hannah

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