hello and i would like to know what is the difference between a cross dress and transgender or cis. i am a closet cross dresser for many years and love to dress up as a female and be happy looking pretty and feeling pretty about myself.
Cisgender is when you feel that the gender you were assigned to at birth aligns with the gender you identify as today. you are born, the doctor and nurses see what is between your legs and mark M or F on your birth certificate.
You are likely dressed in blue or pink. You are given trucks or dolls. You are encouraged to be a doctor or a nurse. You are ridiculed for crying or comforted when you are sad.
No one does. We’re all the same but we’re all so different. Not because we are trans, but because we are, you know, HUMAN. Anyway, I think many people are quick to over-analyze who we are or attribute trauma or familial history as to why we wear what we wear or identify how we do. “Oh, you like to be a girl? It’s because you had a bad relationship with your parents”, and the like. Please. I do not believe that we are who we are because it is a conscious decision or something born from something that happened in our childhood. It’s simply the way we are, or as Lady Gaga put it, we are born this way.
From time to time I wonder if I am transgender because I like to wear lipstick, stilettos, pencil skirts, and panties. I also wonder if I wear lingerie, eyeliner, dresses, and heels because I am transgender. Which came first? I don’t know. But I do think about clothes a lot. I love love love wearing “girl clothes”, even in boy mode. Working from home in a pair of leggings and a femme t-shirt? Amazing. Sleeping in a nightgown? Bliss. It’s times like this that I think that maybe, just maybe that this IS all about clothes. But then there’s also the side of me that loves being en femme. I love makeup, the hair, the skirts, everything. I love seeing HER in the mirror. She is me and I am she and that is that.
Yes, clothes make the girl, at least this girl. Wearing a cute dress in boy mode is not the same as wearing the same dress en femme not only visually but also just, well, you know what I mean.
As pointless as it is to wonder why we are who we are, I still find myself thinking about it, especially when I am drawn to a new outfit. I bounce the whys of who I am back and forth for a bit and then come to the same conclusion that I have come to for years… that there is no answer.
At least I didn’t think there was until the other day! I realized it IS all about clothes. Sort of. Kind of. I mean, yes, but no. It’s kinda sorta both.
Walk around the baby section of any department store. You’ll see onesies with phrases on them like “precious little lady” and “cute little man”. You see pink diaper bags and blue baby blankets. From the moment we are born (and even before), the arbitrary concept and social construct of gender is assigned to us. We don’t have a choice what color socks we wear but whether they are pink or they are blue will have a huge impact on how we are seen and treated. Soon we are being told that boys don’t cry and girls are pretty. The song “What a Good Boy” by the Barenaked Ladies address this in a brilliant and sad way:
When I was born They looked at me and said What a good boy What a smart boy What a strong boy
And when you were born They looked at you and said What a good girl What a smart girl What a pretty girl
We’ve got these chains Hanging ’round our necks People want to strangle us with them Before we take our first breath
As we are raised, we are given toys and books and clothes that match the societal perception of what we should wear and read and play with based on our genitals (which is REALLY messed up when you think about it). We are being taught that THIS is for boys and THAT is for girls. But if you don’t want to play with trucks or wear pants but you want to play with dolls and wear dresses then we may start to wonder that maybe, just maybe, we are not boys after all if that is what boys are “supposed” to like, wear, and play with. And of course, if we’re not boys, then who are we?
All of a sudden, our perception of gender and identity are thrown into question. We begin the lifelong (ugh) journey of wondering who we are. If we look at gender as binary and we don’t want to do the things boys are supposed to do, then are we girls? I never felt like I was a girl, I just wanted to look like a girl and dress like a girl sometimes. As our perception of gender evolves and we realize that there are more than two genders we find that we can identify differently than BOY or GIRL. This can be comforting and this can be overwhelming, but at least there are options.
We are taught PINK is for girls. We are taught MAKEUP and NAIL POLISH are for girls. And yes, we are taught that (deep breath) panties, bras, lingerie, nightgowns, stockings, dresses, gowns, skirts, blouses, bodysuits, stilettos, high heels, mary janes, ballet slides, wedges, heeled boots, jewelry, leggings, lace, mesh, blouses and a zillion other things are for girls. Therefore, these things are synonymous with girls. Or put another way, synonymous with not being a boy.
If boys are not supposed to wear panties, then I don’t want to be a boy. That’s not to say that I want to be a girl, I just want to be me. Panties, dresses, makeup represent my gender identity. When I see a cute skirt I am reminded (not that I need to be reminded) of who I am, or at least who half of me is. Pretty clothes, cute heels symbolize one of my genders. A side of me that makes me happy. I like who I am. I like my gender identities. I like being reminded of who I am and femme clothes do that. Clothes are a connection to what we love, what we want.
I will never know why I like what I like to wear. I mean, nightgowns and leggings are comfy so there is that. But let’s face it, a gaff can be uncomfortable sometimes, strutting in 4 inch stilettos will likely get painful after a couple hours. I don’t wear heels because they are comfortable. I mean, the heels I wear (well most of them) are worn because they fit well and don’t kill my calves right away, but I wear heels (and everything else) because of how it makes me feel. I feel powerful, beautiful, strong, brave, pretty, happy, calm and, well, feminine. I like feeling these things.
I don’t know why a dress makes me feel that way. Probably because wearing a dress (and being en femme) in public represents that I am accepted and embraced my gender identity. I am who I am and I am confident in my identity. Being outside en femme means I have gotten past the doubts and fears that held me back. It represents I no longer think about passing or blending in. I have conquered so many things that held me back.
A dress can be a souvenir. There’s a dress in my closet that I purchased to celebrate the first time I went to the Mall of America. When I see that dress I am reminded of what I overcame that day. I have a matching bra and panty set that I bought when I had a bra fitting. I think about that night every time I wear it. I remember the time my mom met Hannah and the pink heels I was wearing that day. Clothes and memories and experiences forever entwined. Clothes and identity are forever linked. It is about clothes. It is about makeup. It is about heels. And hair, and necklaces, and nail polish and so many things.
Until a piece of clothing represents something, be it gender identity or a memory, it is just fabric. But when we give that fabric the power of symbolism, the power of identity, then it becomes sacred. Things without meaning, without association are unimportant and are just things. A wedding ring is just jewelry if it doesn’t represent love and commitment. My male friends do look at a dress the same way I do. To them, it’s just fabric. To me, it is everything because of what it represents, what it reminds me, what it means to me.
As important as I think it is to find heels and dresses and lingerie that fit (and I think this is really important), I think that finding support and friendship is just as crucial.
A random thought. I know it’s shallow to put panties and stilettos as equal to support for girls like us, but I stand by it. For many of us, a pretty pair of panties or an amazing dress are a representation of our gender identity. Finding the courage to wear something we have always dreamed of wearing, and having that something fit is amazing of course, but it also fulfills a hidden and secret desire that many of us have had for entire lives.
I love promoting different organizations and support/social groups for girls like us, especially in an area outside of a major metropolitan city. I just learned of a social/support group in northeast Wisconsin near Green Bay. They meet up on the first Thursday of each month for support, girl talk about shopping and fashion, and share experiences. In addition to meeting each month, they also have special outings several times a year where the girls go out for dinner, shop, and go out for dinner.
The premiere welcome, social and support group is the First Thursday CD/TG Gathering that happens every first Thursday of the month in the private and safe room attached to the back of the Napalese Lounge (see bar listing below). From 6:30 – 8:00 is reserved for M to F cross dressers, gender fluid, transgender, gender nonconforming, etc. There is no pre-registration, fee, programs, drama just good trans people who love to gather with other kindred spirits to meet others, tell a few stories and laugh. You don’t have to worry about “passing” or wearing the right clothes. Some girls have been around for a while (wisdom figures?) and each Gathering may have a couple girls who are “coming out” to meet with others for their first time. Some who cross dress a couple times a month and others who are at various stages of fully transitioning. We may have 5 girls show up or 15. You can enter directly into the private gathering room from the parking lot on the side of the building. The well-lit back door, with a welcome sign on it is 3 feet off the parking lot. About 8:00, depending on the wishes of whoever is there that night, the group usually migrates to the Napalese Lounge bar, where we are always warmly welcomed for a night cap or two. Periodically the group plans a “Super Saturday “ which is a full evening of shopping, going out to eat, stopping a cocktail or wine lounge and usually ends by attending a drag show.
Of course, some of these activities have been impacted by COVID, but hopefully they (along with so many other things) will return to normal sooner rather than later. If you are interested in learning more about this wonderful group, please visit their website: https://www.meetup.com/Green-Bay-Transgender-Meetup/
The group also has provided some resources in the area for independent businesses that are friendly to girls like us and I am happy to list them here:
Frayed Knot – It is an upscale used women’s clothing store in Green Bay. The owner Jenifer (who is usually there) and her staff are wonderful and very welcoming of the trans community. Prices of quality used women’s clothing are excellent. They will fuss over you and help you find sizes, set you up in one of the changing rooms and treat you royally. They also have shoes, purses, jewelry, accessories, etc. Periodically as part of Super Saturday’s they will open the store in the evening just for trans women and host a wine and cheese party. Located at 2660 N. Packerland Drive in GB. 920-405-0533 Sunrise on Main Boutique – This is another very trans friendly and welcoming upscale used women’s clothing store. The owner is Joan who is a delight to talk with. All profits from the sale of dresses, tops, skirts, jeans, purses, jewelry, shoes, etc. go to support women’s support and life coaching programs. They just expanded into a new larger space that has an open airy boutique feeling and displays of merchandise. On Tuesdays, the store is closed so that you can set up private shopping times with an appointment. On Thursdays they are open until 6:00 – so that you check it out and then come on over for our First Thursday Gatherings at Naps which is just a few blocks away. They are located at 1244 Main St. in Green Bay. website: www.sunriseonmain.com 920-857-1662.
Mani Fit Alteration – If you find that perfect dress or outfit that is just a bit too big and you need a good seamstress – go to Mani-Fit Alteration. The shop is run by a wonderful woman who is very trans friendly and has helped several trans girls at reasonable prices. Located in a small strip mall at 2301 Holmgren Way in Green Bay. (across from Penny’s on Holmgren Way) 920-301-3267 or 920-465-4800. Nells Wigs – a local wig shop that has served a few members of the trans community, but their primary clientele are women who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy. The owner, Stacie is very nice. A couple of trans girls have been well served there. They have a nice selection of wigs and will do a great fitting for you in a private room. However, prices tend to be at the high end – $200 or more per wig. If price isn’t a concern, then make an appointment and enjoy. Located at 2031 S. Webster Ave, Suite B in Green Bay 920-393-4912 www.nellswigsbouttique.com
Voga Wigs and Hair Add Ons – Have communicated with them via email and they indicate that they would be more than happy to help members of the trans community. They have a private room and a wide selection. They noted that price range for a synthetic wig was from $260 – $700, synthetic/human hair blends go from $900 – $1100 and human hair is $1200 to $4000. They also will wash, condition and restyle wigs. Online their fees are about $40 – $50 for these services. Green Bay Location : 900 S. Military Ave. 920- 884-8642 – Appleton location: 1250 Westhill Blvd 920-882-8642. http://vogawigs.com
Academy of Beauty Professionals – This is a training school for Beauty Professionals. As such all services are provided by students under the careful supervision of teachers. As a result, the cost for a full makeover is less than $20.00. A couple of girls have gone there, staff are very open to serving the trans community and they do a nice job. Call ahead for an appointment. Locations in Green Bay at 2575 West Mason St. (across from Oneida Casino) 920-857-1081 and Appleton – 525 North Westhill Blvd – 920-815-3375.
The Aesthetic Spa – Hair Removal –– Robin Smet has been doing laser and electrolysis treatments for trans women for many years. 2372 S. Oneida St. GB – 920-497-6246.
Milan Laser Hair Removal – Board certified, has been in the business many years, very trans friendly and experienced. 2476 S. Oneida – 920-569-0927 https://milanlasergreenbay.com/
Wisconsin Laser Center – 100% transgender owned and operated. Specializes in laser hair removal, body sculpting, tattoo removal. Located in Neenah 1075 S. Lake St., Suite 105 920-245-3741. https://www.wisconsinlasercenter.com
Photography Girl – A very trans friendly professional photographer who has a private studio located in downtown Neenah. Rates are very reasonable. If interested in more information and to set up an appointment email her at XOXOYoursPhotography@gmail.com The Nepalese Lounge – Highly recommended. Home for the CD/TG First Thursday of the Month Gathering. A classic “gay neighborhood bar”. All are welcome here, young and old, straight, gay, trans, etc. Pub food menu with Friday Fish Fry. Reasonably priced drinks. Place you can meet and chat. Drag shows the third Thursday of each month. Open mic talent shows the first Friday of each month. Located in Green Bay at 1351 Cedar St. – just east of downtown GB. https://www.napalese.com
Rascals – Another nice neighborhood like gay bar. Wide age range. Have pub menu and in summerhave nice outdoor back patio. Located in Appleton at 702 E. Wisconsin Avenue 920-954-9262 http://Rascalsbar.com
Amphora Wine Bar – A high class recently opened upscale remodeled art deco place with lots of atmosphere, good wine list and excellent cocktails. Also has one of the most interesting menus in Green Bay. The February 2020 CD/TG Super Saturday stopped there, and we were welcomed with a free round of drinks. Back patio open in summer. 131 N. Broadway in Green Bay. 920-391-5417.
Re Mixx – a larger venue that is well known for its Saturday drag shows, good food and drinks, DJ on Friday and Saturday nights, Karaoke, etc. Always trans friendly. Located west of Neenah. Take the Winchester Road exist west off Hwy 41 to State Road 76 – head South address is 8386 State Road 76 –Neenah. 920-725-6483.
Dr Jekyll’s – Classic neighborhood dive bar that is close to Lawrence University and has a college energy vibe to it. Home of the monthly Lawrence University LGBTQIA + Pride Network social from 5:00– 8:00 on the Second Thursday of each month. Has pinball, skee ball, nice outdoor smoking patio. Great craft beer selection. 314 College Ave in Appleton.
XS Nightclub – If you are looking for a pulsating high energy place to dance – this is the place for you. Two stories, the lower level is usually a crowed dance floor and the second floor is a bar that overlooks the dance floor. It’s referred to as a gay bar – but while it is gay and trans friendly, there are probably more straight younger people. All are welcome. 1106 Main St. in Green Bay – 920-351-3024.
Scoreboard Grille – Classic no frills sports bar with reasonably priced drinks, burgers and beer. or those who want to grab a bite to eat before hitting the town we’ve been there without incident with 15 t-girls. Others have gone dressed and never had a problem. 2511 W. Mason St. in Green Bay. (across from Oneida Casino on Mason St.) 920-770-5586 http://www.scoreboardgrillecom.com
No Limits – A gay bar that is trans friendly, tends to have a younger crowd. Periodic drag shows and sometimes drag queens as bar enders. 500 N. Baird St. in Green Bay – 920-489-2484
Aardvark Wine Lounge – a small unique eclectic artsy cozy place with a unique pour yourself selection of wines to taste. Can order pairings of meats and cheeses to go along with your wine tasting. More of a straight bar but do drag brunches and trans girls have stopped there and have felt welcome. 304 Pine Street (next to Northland Hotel) in downtown Green Bay 920-737-7563
I am making a contact sheet of resources for a friend of mine that cross dresses. Is there any resources you would highly recommend? Mental health, books to read, people to watch on YouTube or to follow on social media. He’s not looking for forums or dating sites, and that’s all I really come up with from search engines. Thank you!
Aren’t you sweet?
There are a ton of resources out there and so much depends on what your friend is looking for.
Some of us are really conflicted and confused and scared of who we are and what they want, or want to wear. Some of us are wondering what this all means. It kind of throws everything we know, or think we know about our whole sense of identity (gender and sexual among others) into question. We may feel alone when it comes to this side of us. If your friend is looking for support and friendship I would recommend looking for a local PFLAG group as well as reading and posting on crossdressers.com and transgenderheaven.com.
If your friend is looking for help when it comes to mental help, please encourage them to speak with a gender therapist.
If your friend is looking for resources when it comes to finding clothes, there are many options out there. En Femme, The Breast Form Store, Glamour Boutique, HommeMystere and Xdress are some of my favorites. Make sure they know their measurements. Of course, one does not need to limit their shopping options to designers who make beautiful, feminine clothes for the typical male body. I have just as many dresses from DressBarn and Target as I do from the businesses I listed.
When it comes to books, I loved ‘The Lazy Crossdresser’ by Charlie Jane Anders. This is a practical and light guide to wearing “girl clothes” and had a huge impact on me when I read it for the first time. This might be out of print but you can usually find almost anything online.
In terms of social media, your friend will find that there are a lot of people like us who wear what we wear for a lot of reasons. My Twitter followers, and who I follow on Twitter range from fetishists (I don’t follow people that are… aroused by this) to activists to gross horny dudes looking to hook up (I don’t follow them either) drag queens, makeup artists, to people like me who simply love to wear pretty clothes. Some of the girls I follow online can be found in T-Girl Spotlight.
Well girls? Anything you think might help? Please comment!
I used to think the only way I would be able to leave my home en femme was if I passed. Knowing I would never pass (not that there is such a thing) I thought if I blended in I would be ready to brave the world.
I see blending as a… hm, survival method, and it was in this perspective that gave me the courage to enter the real world.
My sense of fashion, however, does not lend well to blending and I have just embraced it. Certain colors, patterns, and prints just scream LOOK AT ME. Of course, being as tall as I am AND being trans I am going to be noticed so I may as well wear what I want.
Sparkly, silver dresses do not help a girl blend in. It requires an insane amount of confidence and hubris and the ability to shut out the stares to wear a dress like that in public. And that’s what I did at last month’s photo shoot.
This was for a project a friend of mine is putting together and I’ll share more details as they become available. For now, I hope you enjoy the photos!
I was out for a run the other day and usually a run allows me to lose myself in my thoughts and to let my mind wander. Being outside, getting exercise, is a great way to gain some perspective. It helps me work out problems and occasionally have a brilliant, random idea. On this particular run I thought to myself “we need to take responsibility for our gender identity”. And I was like yes! We do! And then I thought “what in the world does that mean?”
As my run continued, I started to break down this thought. My core belief is that this is who we are, we can’t change that. Call it nature, call it being born this way, we are who we are. We do not have a choice. The choice lies in how we respond to who we are. We can deny it (good luck), we can ignore it, we can accept it, we can embrace it. And we can act on it. Or not.
Our choice also lies in how we respond to those around us. When en femme I get a lot of looks. That’s not to say people are just fawning over me and they’re like OMG look at the pretty girl. No. Most of the looks are people seeing me and processing me. It’s not common to see a girl as tall as me, so I am given a second look. Not every girl is wearing heels and a beautiful dress at the store, so I am a little out of place. And of course, I am trans and there’s really not enough of us (but more than you think) where we are so common that we kind of blend in and are unremarkable. I am aware of the impact I have on people. That is not to say that I am enchanting everyone around me and everyone thinks I am beautiful or whatever. No. I am fully aware that I am a t-girl, I am wearing a cute outfit, heels, amazing eyeliner, and regardless of if someone thinks I am attractive or not, I am noticed and I am likely causing some sort of reaction. Reactions can include anything from “cute dress!” to “hey, a transgirl, cool” to “this chick is in my way” to “goddamn tranny”.
Regardless of the gender I present as, I take responsibility for everything I do. If I make a mistake at work, I own up to it. If I am too sarcastic and hurt someone’s feelings, I apologize. If Hannah makes you feel uncomfortable well, too bad. I don’t care. Get over it. BUT! I am aware that gender identity can be a complicated discussion and something some parents want to have with their children when it’s the right time and when both parent and child are ready to have the conversation. In my experience if I see a kid with a parent they will usually stare at me as they are processing what they see. Someone who is pretty clearly masculine wearing a pretty dress. I fully accept (and expect) that they may wonder, often out loud, why that man is wearing a dress. This is probably not a conversation many parents want to have while they are out running errands, even if the parents are extremely accepting and supportive of the trans community. So, because of this, I become hyperaware when I am out in public and there a lot of kids around. I don’t feel I am damaging them, but I feel I am presenting a perspective on gender that is likely outside of the experience they have had up until now.
This, I feel, is taking responsibility for my gender identity.
But for grown-ups, I really, really don’t care if I challenge your opinion and perspective and concept of gender. Grow the hell up. Let others live their best life. I don’t care what you think or feel. Lalalalala I can’t hear you.
BUT! It’s different for our family. My racist, homophobic uncles do not know about me, and they never will. But if they did, they would HATE me. And I wouldn’t care. Really, that’s their problem. I haven’t spoken to most of my extended family in decades anyway, so why would I care what they think? Especially when it comes to something like gender identity? Really, if you are transphobic or homophobic, that is 100% on you. I am not going to change your mind and I am not going to spend any energy trying to do so. I don’t know how to explain to someone why gender identity or sexual preference are not things to judge someone by. BUT! Extended family is one thing, our siblings, parents, and especially our significant others, are another. My relationship with my mom has always been complicated and has rarely been easy. It’s gotten better as we have both gotten older, but i have accepted that she and Hannah will never go out for coffee. Accepting this is one thing, but I still hope for it. My mom’s opinion on one’s gender identity impacts me a little more. I love my mom, and her perspective on me, my gender, my choices, my life hits differently than my racist uncle. Who I am is important to me, and when people I love and care about have an opinion and perspective that differs from me about something as important as gender identity, well, it hurts, to be honest.
When I came out to my mom I knew this would have a huge impact on her. I didn’t know how it would go and I was nervous as to what our relationship would be like going forward. Let’s be real, most relationships can be divided between Before Coming Out and After Coming Out. I didn’t think she would disown me or anything, my mom is very liberal, my older brother is gay (not that being trans and gay at the same thing but there is some non-cis/non-hetereo precedent in our family). I came out to my mom on a Saturday night. The next day was a family gathering. The coming out conversation was planned this way on purpose. I wanted to open up to her in a way I never did before, and I wanted a family gathering the next day, just to re-establish a little more normality in her life and our dynamic and to kind of show her that although I was who I was, I was still who I’ve always been.
Of course, our talk the night before was all that she could think about. It was still sinking in. Even after all this time it’s probably still sinking in.
A few years ago my mom properly met Hannah. At the mall, of course. This, however, was not planned. Having a talk is one thing, seeing your son in a cute (well, I think it’s cute) pink dress, stilettos and makeup is another. I reopened the conversation completely unintentionally. Honestly I felt bad about that day. I knew she didn’t understand or even want to talk about this side of me, and then here I am 10000% en femme at JCPenney (hey they have cute dresses once in a while).
This had an impact on her in a different, more intense way than the chat we had at her dining room table a few years prior. Although my gender identity is mine and personal and is really no one’s business but my own, I was, and will always be, aware of how who I am can affect the people I love. I can’t, and won’t change who I am, but I certainly know how this side of me makes someone feel.
The most serious and sacred relationship one can have in their lives is the one they have with their spouse or significant other. You dedicated yourself to each other, you made a commitment. You invested your time, money, and energy to your relationship. Perhaps you have children, or own a home, or a business. You go through life’s challenges and successes and failures with each other. Everything either one of you does has an impact on the other. You owe it to them to consult with them on most of the decisions you will make in life. As your life goes on, individually as well as together, things change. Your children grow up, you change careers… and it’s possible your gender identity evolves as well. When things change you have an obligation to have honest and productive conversations with your partner. They may not understand, they may not accept, they may not like this part of you, but your gender identity will have a significant impact on your relationship and on your partner. It’s hard to come out. It’s so scary but I believe if this side of you affects you significantly then you probably should have the talk with them. And yes, it’s hard to go into a conversation where you don’t know the outcome will be. I get it, I promise I do.
As we keep our gender identity bottled up, the desire, our feelings only grow stronger. They may get to the point where we don’t care about anyone’s opinion about who we are. And that isn’t a bad thing. When I stopped caring about complete strangers might think about me it gave me the freedom to dress to the nines and go everywhere from the gas station to the theater to Pride. But we can’t think that way about our spouse. You may be at the point where you are willing to risk it all because you need to acknowledge who you are, you may be at the point where you don’t care what anyone thinks. You may be at a point where you feel if others have a problem with this, well, that’s their problem.
And yes, you are not wrong….
But you can’t think that this is only your partner’s problem. You don’t have the luxury to not care what your wife, your significant other, thinks about your gender identity.
When you start to acknowledge your gender identity has changed since you have gotten married or made a commitment to someone this isn’t “their problem”. You HAVE to care. This is now something the two of you need to work through and work out.
Who we are is sacred. It is important we are honest with ourselves. It’s important we are honest with our partners. We made a commitment to them and yes, relationships change and sometimes they get to a point where two people are no longer happy, or in love, or the relationship has run its course. Our marriages require a lot of communication and mutual respect. Our actions impact them, and we must take responsibility for what we do, how we feel, or how we identify.
When my wife and I were learning more about my gender identity, we would have these amazing, vulnerable conversations late at night (and often early into the morning) about how I felt, how she felt, and, well, about clothes and makeup. These talks were often accompanied by a bottle or two of wine. My wife was the first person who I really opened up to. I came out to others previously but my wife and I really dug deep into how I felt and what I wanted. Her questions and patience and honesty really helped me to feel safe when it came to discussing what it is simple and complicated at the same time.
But that’s my wife. She makes everyone feel safe and important. After a lifetime of living with my feelings and desires I was tired of keeping this inside. I was tired of keeping secrets. It was a relief, and still is, to talk with her. Wine can help, but I think what really allowed me to open up to her and challenge myself was having these conversations after a long day. As my day progresses, I lose my filter and tend to say what I am thinking or feeling. I don’t have the bandwidth (if you will) to blow off a difficult question. I lose my defenses and i just become really honest with myself and ultimately, became honest with her.
No, I never lied about this side of me. I came out to her while we were dating and talked about I loved lingerie, and told her that was where it ended. Of course, looking at who I am now it’s hard to believe that all of THIS was just about panties, but that is how I understood it. Besides those rare occasions I bought a dress (that would ultimately end up quickly getting purged) I never really wore anything beyond bras and panties and heels at that point.
Of course, these talks were not just about me. She had feelings and thoughts about this side of me as well. These late conversations were just as necessary for her as they were significant for me. We were honest with ourselves and with each other after midnight in a different way. I think we reveal what we want, how we feel, and who we are at the end of a long day. Again, the wine helped.
But these days I don’t drink and can barely stay awake after 10pm, but I digress.
I get a lot of emails at night. My website traffic is surprisingly high after I fall asleep. I get more comments on my Flickr page and DMs on Twitter than I expected. Whenever I read an email that was sent at three in the morning I am always surprised that anyone is still awake at that time. Again, I am not as young as I used to be and forget that I used to be able to stay up that late. A lot of the emails that I get at this time of night tend to be very very honest. They can be very long and it’s not uncommon for the spelling to get a little careless as the email goes on. I suspect the writer is probably having a drink which is fueling their courage to be honest about themselves or to help them send an email to someone they can relate to. The sender will talk about how they’ve always wanted to wear panties but never were brave enough. How they want to be honest with their wife but just are afraid of her reaction. I imagine these messages are being sent long after their partners are asleep and they are going online and looking at sites they normally wouldn’t during the day.
Again, wine helps. Well, maybe not help, but it can cause someone to act without thinking, without restraint, but that is not always a good thing.
I usually respond to these emails and offer resources if they ask, or answer questions, or send links that I think would be helpful, whether it is for a gender therapist or where to find size 14 stilettos. Sometimes I get a reply but if I do, it’s not uncommon for them to tell me to never contact them again and they have purged and they are no longer a crossdresser. Good luck with that. My guess is that they immediately regretted sending the email and want to pretend it never happened.
And that’s fine. You do you.
If you are reading this post on your phone while your wife is sleeping soundly next to you, I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with you. This is who you are, this is who we are. You can’t change what you want, this will not go away. That might help you feel better, it might not. You can choose to listen to this side of you, and what you decide to do is your choice. But whether you accept this side of you, or pretend it doesn’t exist, please know that it is okay to be who you are. It is a complicated life, your gender identity may or may not make anything easier, it is what it is.
On a similar but possibly lighter note, I am surprised at how many DMs I get on Twitter with a photo of a dude’s penis asking “u up?”.
I’m probably not awake, but even if I was, my god, go away.
We can’t wait for “them” to let us know that crossdressing or wanting to wear a dress or lipstick or whatever we have tucked away in our dresser drawers or hidden in our closets is okay.
Acceptance of who we are comes from ourselves. Some of us accept who we are with giddy excitement. They embrace this side of themselves. They have denied this side of themselves for too long until finally, finally they accept that they are who they are, that they love to wear lingerie or nail polish or the countless, wonderful things that they have dreamed of wearing. For others, this acceptance comes with resigned reluctance. They have fought this side of themselves for their entire lifetimes, thinking, hoping, and perhaps praying it would go away. But it didn’t, and it won’t. Some of us just stop fighting ourselves, they stop denying that this is a phase and this is who they are.
We want this acceptance of ourselves. Conflict, tension, denial can be very exhausting. Thinking that there is something wrong with us is very depressing but this is who we are. This is how we are wired, this is how we were born. I cannot change my gender identity no more than I can change my age.
We know that accepting this side of us is essential for survival. Denying any part of ourselves can wear on us, it exhausts us, it consumes us. Acceptance of oneself usually feels *AMAZING*. A weight has been lifted, the missing piece of our identity falls into place, and a serene peace envelops us. Hopefully we are happier. I think most of us are.
Of course, not everyone wants to accept this side of themselves. They are terrified that this is who they are, that this is not a phase. The fear is that if they accept that there is something to their gender identity other than BEING A MAN, it may mean other things. Does it mean we were born in the wrong body? Does it mean you are gay? Does it mean we are going to transition? Well, maybe, but not necessarily. It’s normal to jump to the conclusion that because there is a side of you that is typically seen as feminine that perhaps you do not fit the societal view of heterosexuality. But really…? Wanting to wear a nightgown does not mean that you are unknowingly attracted to men.
I do understand the need, the hope that society accepts us. For many of us, there was a stigma with being anything that wasn’t masculine. It’s quite silly. There was a boy in my first grade who was really good at jumping rope. It didn’t take long for some boys to decide that jumping rope was for girls and he was mocked all throughout grade school for being a sissy, for being a girl. This, of course, is silly and harmful, the kid was just really good at jumping. As I watched that kid get tormented for years, I learned that this side of me needs to stay a secret. I never thought there was something wrong with me, but my life was hard enough as it was and I didn’t need to be ostracized because of what I wanted to wear. It would be nice to live in a world where a boy could jump rope or wear nail polish without getting beat up. At some point we understand that society doesn’t, and never will accept us. Sure, they many tolerate or even love drag queens or take sensitivity training at work about gender identity, but for those of us who simply like to wear lingerie that level of acceptance is never coming. And it doesn’t need to. What I wear to bed and under my clothes is no one’s business. No one needs to know what kind of underwear I am wearing, whether it is boxers or panties. Spoiler alert: it’s panties.
But our partners need to know. Our partners need to know who we are. All of who we are. But this is not about that. I have written a lot of the importance of being honest with our significant others in the past, but this is about why we crave that acceptance. We want someone other than ourselves to tell us that it’s okay. Even after we accept this side of us we will still go back and forth about it. We may go from loving this side of us to wishing it would go away. We have accepted this is who we are, but some of us may still wish that this side of us would vanish. Spoiler alert: it won’t.
Our partners accepting this side of us… and liking this side of us are two different things. Like us, our partners may come to the point where they have accepted that this is who we are. “My husband likes to wear panties and he’s not going to change” is not an easy thing for our wives to say. We want our partners to like this side of because most of us like who we are. We know it’s a lot to ask, we know it’s a lot to take in. We know that their man wearing panties (or whatever) is a big change. We know how hard it is to be who we are, to accept who we are, and we must remember our partners are going to go through that agony, that confusion as well. Putting someone we love through the same thing we put ourselves through is going to cause a lot of guilt. It’s a lot to ask. Even now I want to constantly tell my wife thank you for all she puts up with.
We can accept ourselves, but liking, embracing this side of ourselves are not the same thing. The same goes with our partners. We want our partners to LIKE this side of us because it makes it easier. We feel less guilt when we wear a nightie because our wives like it when we do. Does my wife like this side of me? She has long accepted that this is who I am. It doesn’t phase her the way it did when I came out to her before we got married. I think she is used to it which is not the same as resigning herself to it. I think she likes we talk about makeup or styles or cute clothes. I think she likes that I can give my thoughts on an outfit she’s wearing and knowing my perspective and opinion is coming from somewhere a little different because of my gender identity.
But does she ever think “oh boy, I’m so glad my husband crossdresses and wears panties!” No, I don’t think so. I think she likes that this side of me makes me happy, and really, that’s enough. It’s not much different than a wife being happy that her husband likes to play video games, watch football or something. I don’t think there’s a lot of wives who are thrilled because their husband likes to fish. They may be happy that their spouse has something, and does something, that makes them happy, though.
Some of us have partners that will dress to the nines with them and hit the town. Some of us have partners who see our femme selves as their BFFs and go shopping with. But for most of us, our partners accepting this side of us is the most we can ask for, and the most we can hope for. I understand we want our partners to like this side of us, to be happy with this side of us. I understand, believe me. Accepting their partners as we are is not easy, and even if they do, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be difficult sometimes.
Once I stepped out of the house for the first time and watched the sunrise on a summer morning I felt that I had conquered something impossible. Hannah was real, I was real, we were living in the real world. I felt invincible, I felt powerful, I felt fearless.
I began to think of all the other things I could do. My confidence was through the roof, my potential was endless, nothing could stop me. It was this moment when I started to list all the things she could do. All things I wanted to do.
I felt strong, I felt cute, I felt loved. Well, loved probably isn’t the word, but I was tolerated. What I mean is that I was terrified of being in the real world, I was scared of being harassed, laughed at, or worse. None of these things happened. The city accepted me, tolerated me, ignored me.
As I grew more secure with this side of me, and with how I looked, I fantasized about having professional photos done. An iPhone selfie is fine and my patient wife took countless pictures in those early days. Her love and support did more for me than a color-correcting foundation ever could.
Once the MN T-Girls started to meet, I thought it would be fun to do a professional photo shoot with a photographer. I had no idea how to set something like that up, but my philosophy is that once you commit to something, the universe just kind of gets out of your way and somehow it happens.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Hannah knew someone who knew someone and we got to chatting about my idea and her enthusiasm and support made me feel calm and safe. A few months later a small group of the T-Girls met at a studio in Minneapolis to have our pictures taken by Shannonlee.
This was five years ago and since then the group has had an annual shoot and I have had quite a few shoots with her on my own for modeling gigs and for my own vanity, if I am being honest.
For our first shoot I wore two different dresses. Shannonlee took so many pictures and I had never felt more beautiful. I still love looking at these pictures.
I realized a few months ago that this year marked five years of working with, and five years of friendship with Shannonlee. To mark and celebrate this occasion, I decided to wear one of the dresses I wore at that first photo shoot for our most recent shoot.
The latest article with blogger, trans-activist and fashionista, Hannah McKnight is now available on our Learning Center! Hannah’s blog discusses more in-depth her life as a self-described T-girl.
In past articles for our Learning Center, Hannah has discussed her gender identity evolution and journey towards self-acceptance, coming out to friends and family, and coping during the lockdown.
Now, Hannah begins to focus on the physical side of things! When we start to build a wardrobe, how do we determine our body type so we know which styles will help us to best express ourselves? Read it now>>