Photo Shoot – Blue Polka Dot Dress

How fun is this dress??

I wore it only once before and I have no idea why I don’t wear it more often.  My last photo shoot was the perfect reason to do so.  For some reason I think polka dots are super femme and I hope you like these pictures!

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Love, Hannah

T-Girl, You’ll be a T-Woman, Soon

I attended Catholic school from kindergarten all the way through my senior year.  Although I would never call myself Catholic today, this had an impact on me in a number of ways.  I suppose one could call this sacrilegious, but one of my clearest memories of this time was how badly I wanted to wear the same plaid jumper uniform that the girls in my class wore.

As I got older, I continued to notice (and grow envious) of what girls my age were wearing.  I loved the combination of flirty dresses and Doc Martens boots girls wore when I was in high school.  When I had my first office job I was really drawn to the professional attire the women I worked with wore.

During this time, I underdressed and used every chance I had to try on a dress or a skirt given the opportunity.  When I moved out into my first apartment, I was able to buy (and constantly purge) everything from panties to heels to bras to skirts.  Although I rarely bought “real clothes” and stuck primarily with lingerie, I was always looking at what girls my age were wearing.

I would continue to buy and wear lingerie and heels as I got older, and wouldn’t fully enter the world of proper clothes, makeup, and wigs until I was in my early 30’s.  But as I got more comfortable with accepting and embracing who I am, I would think more about the clothes I wanted to wear, and about the clothes that I wanted to wear as I was growing up.

One of the first things I remember wanting to wear was the Catholic school uniform when I was in grade school.  This uniform has becomes incredibly sexualized and become a common fetish, but I didn’t want to wear the uniform for anything erotic.  I wanted to wear it in my twenties because it had such an impact on me when I was young.  The closest I came to this was this cute outfit I wore for a photo shoot a few years ago.

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Let’s not confuse this with the girls in our community who identify as ‘sissies’.  The T word covers a lot of ground, and there are girl like us who love to dress and act and to be treated as a sissy.  I would imagine that there is a very strong sexual connection to this, but I also acknowledge that this is a world I am not familiar with so I could be very wrong.  Perhaps it is all about clothes.  I wore this dress for another shoot and although I felt a little silly, it was fun to wear.

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Once I fully… evolved into who I am today and acquired the wardrobe I have today, it took me a little time to find my style and look.  I am inspired by girls my age when it comes to discovering new styles and fashion, but like all of us, I also wear what I want to wear.  I tried a few different looks in those days which is not uncommon.  I mean, you look at a few different houses before you decide which one to live in, right?

We are, not only as t-girls, but also as human beings, constantly evolving.  We grow, we learn new things, we adapt.  I look back on my dressing and want I wanted to wear, to what I eventually did wear, to what I wear now.  I like to think I dress like a girl my age.  Well, a girl my age who is also not afraid to show off her legs, anyway.

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Accepting, acknowledging, and embracing your gender identity is a rebirth in a way.  What was hidden and denied what was a part of us that is now who we are.  We are learning who we are.  We are learning who SHE is.  And for some of us, we have some catching up to do.

For lack of a better word, many of us go through an accelerated and abbreviated form of adolescence or puberty.   Some of us start with the clothes we always wanted to wear when we first felt this side of us.  Some of us felt an intense jealousy towards girls we knew as teenagers simply because we wanted to look as cute, as happy, as carefree as they did in their tank top and jean miniskirt.  We may have felt a sense of longing as we admired the cute pencil skirt and jacket our female colleagues wore.

Many of us go back to these days when it comes to our wardrobes.  Eventually we all find our look, we wear what we want, and what we are comfortable and confident in.  We grow.  We become who we are.

Love, Hannah

Photo Shoot – Yellow Dress

If someone at work were to compliment a tie I was wearing, I would say thank you.  If they asked when or where I bought it, I would likely have to think about it and probably wouldn’t remember.

But the other side of my closet is different.  Every dress has a story and I remember each one.

Besides trying it on at the shop when I bought it, this was the first time I wore this cute little dress.  As soon as I put it on, I knew I would wear it for a future photo shoot.  It’s cute, it pairs really nicely with my white heels, it’s short and shows off my legs.

I hope you love this dress as much as I do!

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Love, Hannah

Serving Glamour!

We all know the difficulty of finding clothes that fit our bodies.  A size 14 is not always a size 14.  Often times a dress fits perfectly around our hips but our shoulders are a different story.  I am always excited when I see a new company or designer making clothes for our bodies.  Not only does this give us another option, but it’s encouraging to see others supporting girls like us.

We can add Serving Glamour to the growing list of designers making clothes for us.

Serving Glamour provides access to modest and modern clothing and accessories specifically designed and chosen for transgender women and their unique body shapes so they feel fashionable and feminine in any social or professional situation.

Serving Glamour is owned and operated by Jennifer Walter BA, the wife of a transgender female mechanical engineer.  As a member of Tempe Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center (FABRIC), Jennifer is working closely with local experts in fashion design and manufacturing to guarantee that Serving Glamour fashions and accessories are of the highest quality.

Serving Glamour sells shoes, clothing, accessories, and purses.  I had the honor of trying Jennifer’s custom wrap dress and I modeled it for my most recent photo shoot.  The dress feels silky and sensual, and I loved the sparkly pattern.

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The dress is flattering and I love the neckline.  It comes at a perfect angle and it shows off just enough cleavage. The skirt is also cut in a way to show off my legs when I want to, and I always like to show off my legs.

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The dress is sexy and flirty, and perfect for date night… and for Sunday brunch.

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I hope you like Jennifer’s dress as much as I do.  Please support her by signing up for her mailing list.

Thank you to Jennifer for the dress, and for giving girls like us another option for our wardrobes.

Love, Hannah

My Name is Hannah and I am a ________

I knew I couldn’t be the only one.

Growing up, I used every opportunity I could to try on a dress, a skirt or heels.  As I got older, more opportunities presented itself, especially when I had a part-time job and a driver’s license.  The freedom and the thrill and the fear of being able to go to any department of any store any time I wanted was a new world to me.

Even now when I look at dresses at a store or shop for makeup in male mode, I always wonder how I look to people around me.  I don’t care, but I still wonder.  Do others think I am shopping for my wife or myself?  Again, I don’t care what they think and truly I will never know, but still I wonder.

What I do know for sure is that I am not the first or the last male presenting person that is shopping for a new skirt or choosing a new lipstick color.

But when I was younger, despite being sure I wasn’t the only one like me, I couldn’t imagine anyone else in my life wearing what I dreamed of wearing.  I couldn’t form the words to describe who I as, or why I liked to wear what I liked to wear.  It was too complex and too simple at the same time.  People generally don’t have to explain why they like pizza or going on a bike ride because… well, why would they need to?  My thinking was (and to a certain extent still is) why do I need to explain why I wanted to wear a cute pair of panties instead of boring, ugly, and uncomfortable boxer shorts?

Of course that thinking was, and is, very naive.  It’s frustrating to be something, to want something, and to be so misunderstood once people know all of us.  It takes FOREVER to come out.  Unless the person we come out to shuts down the conversation very quickly, this revelation can begin a conversation that can span hours, weeks, or even years.  We are multi-faceted and straightforward at the same.  Why do I like to wear eyeliner or lingerie or heels?  I just do.

But that explanation is typically not enough.  Is there some confusion or denial about our gender or sexual identity?  Did we have a bad relationship with our parents?  Are we perverts?

Do you see what I mean when I say that coming out is exhausting?

I was never confused about who I was.  But growing up I wanted to know WHAT I was.  I didn’t feel like a boy.  I didn’t want to be a girl.  The world changed in fifth grade when a friend said the word CROSSDRESSER.  I asked what that meant and she simply said it was a boy that liked to wear girls clothes.

To find out there was a word for what I was, for who I was, was earth shattering.  It was proof that I wasn’t the only one.  Not only was I not alone, but there were so many of us that there was a word for us.  I was a crossdresser.

Learning this word was so shocking that I almost unintentionally came out at that moment.  For the next few years I felt less alone, I felt… normalized, in a way knowing that what I was had a name.  If I wanted to come out, I would come out as a crossdresser.  There was a word for who I was, and hopefully people would know what it meant.

But it wasn’t long until I learned that having a word for those like me didn’t necessarily mean that things would be easier.  In fact, the word seemed to work against me.

When I started college, access to the internet was still a relatively new thing.  On my first day of college, I went to the library and searched the word ‘crossdresser’.  I was interested in knowing about others like me, to talk with them, to be assured I really wasn’t the only one.  Perhaps there was some insight as to what all of… this meant.

The search provided countless websites and images and the vast majority of them were sexual in nature.  They leaned heavy on the idea that crossdressing was a fetish which was surprising to me, to say the least.  This was not a kink.  At all.  I was dispirited to see that the word crossdresser was represented so overwhelmingly in this manner.

So, the word that I had sought for so long, and the word I labeled myself as for so long, no longer felt right.  Over time I learned that although this side of me is absolutely a fetish for some, it isn’t for all of us.  There were others like me, there are others like me, and there will always be others like me.  But at this time I felt just as alone as I did before.  Yes, there were others like me who loved wearing lingerie, but the reason for it was completely different why I loved it.  My search for a more appropriate word began again.

Fast forward a couple years and I see the word ‘transgender’ for the first time.  The word literally translates into ‘across/beyond gender’ and I thought this was perfect for me.  Having felt that I wasn’t either a boy or a girl, but being beyond the concept of gender seemed right.  Like crossdresser, however, the word at the time was generally defined as someone who has transitioned into a different gender than the one they were assigned to at birth.  As someone who had no desire to permanently live and present as one gender for the rest of my life, transitioning was not something I felt I needed, or wanted to do.

So, another word was out.

Why was this so important to me?  I so wanted a word that described who I was that everyone understood.  When my brother came out as gay, everyone knew what that meant.  If I came out as a crossdresser or as transgender, especially then, I would not be understood.  I knew I was complex, and I had hoped for a word that explained who I was simply and effectively.

These days if the topic came up, I would identify as transgender… but that still requires a lot of qualifying.  Yes, I am trans, but here’s what that means and what that doesn’t mean to me.  I like having a word such as this that everyone has heard and most people have a little familiarity of, but since this word can mean something different to every non-binary person out there, it almost always still requires a lengthy talk.

For people who are more familiar with gender identity beyond the binary, I could also use the terms ‘gender fluid’ or ‘gender non-conforming’ as well.

Still.  These terms also require some explanation.  Not only what these terms generally mean, but also what they mean to me.  It’s important to me that I am understood by those who are important to me.

There are many terms in our community.  In some ways this is wonderful.  To have so many variations of gender identity and gender concepts and gender presentation is a sign of progress and a slow progression to acceptance and understanding.  In other ways this is also frustrating as there is rarely a term that conveys precisely who we are.  For some the word crossdresser fits as perfectly as a stiletto.  For some drag is absolutely what they do.  For myself there are many words I can and could use, but nothing that really encompasses who I am completely.  I find myself asking if having so many terms is helpful or if it works against us.

What do think?

Love, Hannah

Coming Out for the First Time. Again.

There’s no question that people change.

We change our minds, our opinions, and our perspectives.  We change our outfits, our makeup, our heels.  As we get older and as we are presented with new information and have new experiences, it’s common for us to see something through a new lens.

Especially when that something is ourselves.

From the day I learned the word ‘crossdresser’ I identified as such.  I thought of myself this way for years, although I wasn’t always comfortable with this term.  The term seemed to be predominately sexually charged and was usually depicted as a fetish.  There was nothing sexual in why I liked to wear what I wore.  For a long time my wardrobe was little more than beautiful lingerie that was hidden away in the back of my closet, and I never gave a second thought to my gender identity being anything other than male.

I was a crossdresser.  It was a simple as that.  There was no other word for it.

Until I heard the word ‘transgender’ in my early 20’s.  I wasn’t entirely sure what the word meant, and even now there are differing opinions and definitions as to what it means.  All I knew is that the word felt a little more accurate.  I learned a lot about myself growing up and I never felt like one of the guys and I hated the concept of gender roles and toxic masculinity.  I didn’t feel like I fit into the prevailing societal expectation as to what a man “should” be.

I felt boxed in by my gender.  I felt that being male limited me to what I could wear, say, and feel.  On the flip side, I didn’t feel like I was assigned the wrong gender at birth, either.  I felt like I was somewhere in-between.  What I felt, thought, and wore, fell well outside the binary world.  I was both, I wasn’t either.

The term transgender seemed to transcend this either/or confinement.  ‘Trans’ is a Latin pre-fix meaning ‘across, on the far side, beyond’.  If transgender meant ‘beyond gender’ then I was transgender.

The first person I ever came out to was a girl I was dating.  I think we dated for about six months before I told her.  It went… well, it didn’t go anywhere.  But the world was different then.  There were few people in the public eye who were openly transgender.  We didn’t have the representation that we do today.  Gender was even more binary then than it is now.  I don’t fault her for shutting down the conversation and changing the subject whenever I brought it up after that revelation.

But I certainly tried.  When I heard the word transgender I told her that perhaps that’s what I was.  Since I never felt comfortable with identifying as a crossdresser, maybe a different term would help others understand me.  It didn’t.  At least not to her, not back then.  Although the word was relatively new when I heard it and what it meant wasn’t always understood, the consensus was a transgender person was someone who transitioned.

Having no desire to transition and never feeling I was ‘born in the wrong body’, the word transgender, like the word crossdresser, didn’t quite hit the mark for me.  Of course, these days we are more enlightened and educated and have embraced how complex, varied, and nuanced gender is.  Today I am perfectly comfortable identifying as transgender (or perhaps more accurately bi-gender or gender-fluid).

The T-word is still very much misunderstood today, and probably will be for a long time.  Although our community has much more representation than it did twenty years ago, the prevailing opinion is a transgender person is someone who has, or wants to, transition.  Coming out as transgender is, well, it’s annoying, to be honest.  At least for me.  Identifying as a term that most people know is beneficial.  But at the same it’s a term that is very nuanced and personal.  Me identifying as transgender is different than Lavern Cox identifying as transgender.

When I have come out to people, I spend time explaining that being transgender does not mean drag, there’s nothing fetishy, there’s no correlation between my gender identity and sexual identity, and I certainly have no desire or plan to transition.  It’s an exhausting conversation.  When I came out to my sisters and mom, I really wanted to avoid using the words crossdresser and transgender.  The words were either misleading or misrepresented.  Rather I wanted to approach explaining who I was as simple as possible.

Looking back, I realize how naive that was.  There’s nothing simple about us.  If we are truly beyond gender, then we are very much outside the dominate perspective of gender binary.  We are both.  We are neither.

Coming out to my family did not go how I had hoped it would.  When I come out to others it is usually done for a reason.  When I came out to my wife when we were dating I did so because she needed to know all of me.  She needed to know who I was.  At that point I knew I wasn’t going to change and this was not something I would grow out of.  When I came out to my mom and sisters, I had two things I had hoped to do.

The first was I had wanted to have a closer relationship with them.  I wasn’t always the easiest person to get to know or get along with.  As I moved from primarily underdressing to… well, who I am today, it was done so with endless conversations with my wife.  We had long talks into the night about this side of me and when I was presenting as Hannah I felt more open, vulnerable, and calm.  I liked who I was when I was her.

As the months passed these characteristics flowed over and soon I felt more calm, stable, balanced, regardless of the gender I was presenting as.  I felt like a more complete person.  I felt like I was a better person.  I felt that I could have a better relationship with my family.  I felt if they knew about who I was, then I could be more open with them, too.

The second goal was a little shallow, but as time passed I realized how important this goal was, and is, to me.  I wanted them to meet Hannah.  I wanted to spend time with them as her.  I wanted so many little things.  I wanted to have coffee with my mom, I wanted to shop with my sisters.  I wanted Hannah to have sisters.

When this didn’t happen, it wasn’t that big of a deal at the time.  If I wanted to hit the mall en femme I could meet up with the MN T-Girls.  There were girls I could do these things with.  But as time passed, I couldn’t help feel a little rejected.  Why didn’t they want to meet her?

Why didn’t they want to know all of me?

Please understand, my mom and sisters are good people.  They are accepting and advocates of the LGBTQ+ community.  I don’t feel that they are hypocrites for not embracing Hannah.  Coming out is a complex thing an it impacts everyone in our lives.  Sometimes we are surprised by how we react when someone close to us comes out.  I also believe that being transgender is so nuanced and specific to that person that it is not easy to come to terms with it.

I replay the two conversations I had with my mom and sisters constantly.  Well, not constantly, but enough to be able to analyze it.  I think about how I could have done it differently.  I could have explained myself better.  I could have spoken more about my personal gender identity.  I could have made sure they knew this was more than their brother and son dressing up.

But it does little good revisiting these talks.  Rather we can learn from this experience for the next time we come out to someone.  We are not easy to understand.  Going beyond gender is not necessarily easy for a cis-gender person to relate to.  When we come out we learn what words were effective, what questions we will be asked, and what to avoid talking about.  We get better at coming out each time we do so, although each time we do is a different experience and we can never really anticipate how someone will react.

It’s important to be prepared for these talks before we have them.  Be ready to answer the typical questions about your sexual preference and whether you want to transition.  Know yourself.  How do you identify?  What does transgender/crossdresser/non-binary/gender-fluid mean to you?  Be calm, be patient, be sympathetic.  This is not an easy conversation for us to have, and its not going to be an easy for those we come out to.  We must be as prepared as possible for this conversation because we only come out once to someone.

…But is that really the case?

Gender is fluid.  The gender I present as can change throughout the day, and the pointless but almost necessary term I use to identify as can also fluctuate over the course of a lifetime.  I used to identify as a crossdresser, then as transgender, but perhaps bi-gender or gender-fluid is more accurate.

As our (ugh) journey progresses, we need to communicate with our partners how we identify, what we think about, and how we feel.  My gender identity is very different today compared to the night I told my wife that I love to wear panties.  She’s been there each step of the way and has seen me (for lack of a better word) evolve.

If our gender identity has evolved and changed, is it appropriate to… come out again?

I have written about my disappointment about my family’s reaction to this revelation, but I don’t put the blame (if you will) solely on them.  I don’t feel I came out properly.  In an effort to downplay any fear that they may had, I also downplayed this side of me.  When someone comes out as trans (or as anything beyond cis) a fear is that person will transition.  People are afraid of losing their brother, son, husband.  I wanted to assure them that *I* wasn’t going anywhere.  My other failing was not thoroughly expressing who I was.  I talk a lot about my definition of what identifying as transgender means, and I should have discussed this at the time I came out.

In protecting my family from overwhelming them, I minimized the significance and importance of who I am.  Yes, they may have not understood this side of me, but in retrospect, I could have done a much better job in explaining who I am.

I’ve written before that I would come out differently today than I did all those years ago.  My perspective, my gender identity, has changed and evolved.  So, why not do it again but this time come out as transgender and build off of what they know about me and really express who I am, who Hannah is, and why I want (and need) what I want and need from them?

It sounds great when I type it out and I feel empowered to do it.  What holds me back is recalling how uncomfortable my mom was when I came out.  The abrupt changes of subject with my sisters when Hannah comes up.  Although I have no doubt my family loves me, it’s clear this side of me makes them uneasy.  I consider coming out again, or coming out for the first time as transgender every time I see my family.  It’s a high risk/high reward decision.  I feel I would be more effective today in explaining who I am and why their support and acceptance is important to me.  But if the aftermath is the same as the first time I had this conversation, it will be even more devastating to me.  I have to remind myself that the people we come out to are under no obligation to accept us or to meet our other selves.  They are entitled to their reaction and as hard it is, we must accept that.  This is hard for them too.

I have not made a decision about this conversation yet.  This is a topic that is very unique to our community.  It’s frustrating being who we are.  People change as time passes, what being transgender means is different from person to person, and how we identify can shift over the years.  We are complex, we are nuanced, we are lonely, we are proud, we are confident, we are insecure, we are beautiful.