After I finish writing anything I reread it before I post it to see if, well, if it makes sense. Sometimes I go back and rewrite something for clarity or whatever. Sometimes I realize I come off in a different way than I intended. This post talks a lot about internet fame and the like.
If there’s anything I want to avoid it’s being misunderstood. Which isn’t an easy or attainable goal. I don’t want to appear arrogant or ungrateful in any of my writings.
I’ve been blogging and… everything else I do for a while. When you do something for a while it’s not unusual for other people to notice. A photo gets retweeted, a blog article gets reposted on someone else’s blog, and things just grow from there.
Years and years of this have resulted in me being a little well-known in our beautiful gender non-conforming world. On one hand I’m grateful for people who spend a few minutes of their day reading something I wrote and I am truly touched by someone who takes the time to email me.
On the other hand, it feels a little strange to look back over the years and wondering if anyone would identify with the rambling thoughts I posted. It is also somewhat… I don’t even know the right word, when someone thinks of me as famous. Please know that I don’t feel that way about myself.
But I am aware that after years of blogging and everything else I have been fortunate and blessed to have others connect with my feelings and perspectives. Other people relating to what I think about encourages me to, well, keep going.
I guess this italicized text is my… clarification disclaimer. I might come off as “I AM SUPER FAMOUS LOL” in this but please know I don’t feel that way. This post is an honest reflection of what it’s like to have nontertiary doing something that I love, and doing something that I would still be doing even if no one noticed. This is me dancing as if no one is watching, I suppose.
Meeting someone in the real world is a little odd.
For example, I’ve been friends with Sybil for a few years. Within a few moments of a meeting her I learned so much about her. The sound of her voice, her energy, her sincerity… her whole VIBE, you know? Things that are next to impossible to experience through photos and emails.
Unless you are visiting my website for the first time, I probably don’t need to tell you that I post a lot of pictures. I also don’t need to point out that I only post what I feel are the best photos. Pictures that are at an angle or perspective that I think is less than flattering never see the light of the internet. I post pictures that minimize what I feel are my more masculine features. If my head is tilted in a certain way and my jawline is more prominent than what I would like, the picture is condemned into a folder on my desktop never to be opened again.
Sometimes I feel this is a little, well, dishonest? My pictures are not retouched in the sense that Shannonlee tweaks or edits my shoulders or what have you. She might remove a strand of hair or adjust the lighting but otherwise my pictures are of me. The feeling of dishonesty is probably a little misplaced but my thinking is that my body, my face, is a lot more… masculine in reality than a picture suggests.
And for the purpose of this post, “masculine” is meant to be the opposite, the anthesis of feminine.
A picture might show long, shapely legs with a cute strappy stiletto… but pan up a little and bam! Huge, broad, masculine shoulders.
It’s a contrast that I don’t always like.
And I do feel the need to point out that “masculine” and “feminine” are arbitrary at best and there are no rules or standards one must meet to be a boy or girl, but for the purpose of this post, I think you know what I mean.
What I choose to post allows me to have a little… control, so to speak, of what others might think of me. If I only post my most femme pictures, then it’s likely people will think of me as more physically femme than I really am. I mean, yes, I myself know that I have a zillion pictures banished to a file on my laptop that, well, look like me in male mode wearing a wig but if I only post certain pictures than highlight what I feel are feminine features then this shapes what others might think of me.
Does that make sense? I hope so because I am moving on.
All of this control, if you will, goes out the window when I meet people in real life. If I exchange emails for a few weeks (or longer) with someone who is joining the MN T-Girls they only know what I look like based on the pictures I choose to post. When I meet them in real life they see me in a new light. My broad shoulders, my square-ish jaw, my giant hands…
These masculine features which were de-emphasized or discarded or, well, hidden, in posted pictures are now on full display.
Yep, here’s the “real” Hannah McKnight.
In all her feminine flaws.
Despite what this post has suggested so far, I really don’t get tooooo hung up on this, however. In some ways I hope that other t-girls see that many of us have the same features as each other. That passing isn’t real. That we don’t have to be a certain height to present as femme. I mean, other t-girls remind ME of this. Other t-girls inspire me all the time to stop being concerned about how tall I am or whatever.
Anyway, pictures are one thing. Video is another.
Videos capture movement, voice, body language, facial expressions, and essentially one’s physical appearance.
These things are the reasons I’ve resisted video.
Obviously I got over it.
But after seeing the first “Help Me, Hannah!” video I was reminded why I resisted doing video.
Not that I have regrets. Please don’t misunderstand me.
What I mean is that for years my pictures and my writings represented me. They, well, spoke for me. I knew that a ten second video would reshape how people would think of me. Despite years of blogging and pictures, all impressions and thoughts about me could essentially replaced by a short video clip.
Put in a different way.
For years I admired a writer for their books and novels. Loved them. Read every word they wrote, every book they published. And then a few years ago I happened across a video of them being interviewed. They came off as whiny and entitled and cringy. All of a sudden my perspective of them changed. Decades of enjoying their work was put into doubt. Yes they wrote wonderful books but my God the person behind the words was very different than what I had anticipated. I couldn’t reread one of their novels without hearing them complain in that interview how poorly it sold and how he blamed the reception of it on readers not understanding it.
Of course, there is the discussion of art v artist but I don’t want to talk about that right now.
I suppose my point is that a video can quickly, for good or for bad or, well, for neither, can instantly replace someone’s perception of that person.
I try to convey femme presentation. I try to convey poise and well thought out perspectives and such. But I know that all of that will go out the window when I meet someone and they see the real Hannah. The fidgety, the over-sharing, the restless, the twitchy, the distracted Hannah.
It’s no unlike a certain musician that I really like. Wonderful voice, wonderful music, confident performances. But when interviewed they stutter, they stammer, they get flustered. And that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. Obviously they are more comfortable performing and letting their work and their art represent them.
I really don’t know what people think of me when they meet me. And I really don’t want to. I might disappoint them, I suppose. Since I try to present myself on my website as confident, as femme, I worry anything less than that will not live up to someone’s expectations, if that makes sense.
Not that I think I am a perfect princess or a celebrity. Please understand that.
If it helps I have the same misgivings in my male life, too.
But I imagine that when others meet me they likely think that I am a little aloof, a little quiet, a little arrogant, a little… who knows what.
Thankfully people are generally too polite to let me know what they think of me to my face.
The internet is a different story.
If I post a picture it’s fair game. I’ve seen horrible and nasty comments which are humbling and upsetting and can really get to me. These comments are a reminder why I only post what I feel are my best pictures.
Again, there’s that element of control.
A video has voice. A video isn’t always going to limit showing me in what I feel is my best angle. A video shows movement and if that movement isn’t as femme as I would like it to be then I cringe a little. My face might look femme, but if I turn my head then that appearance changes. My head looks a lot more masculine in profile.
Essentially it’s as close as to seeing me in real life as can be. I am, in a way, a little more three-dimensional compared to just a picture of myself.
I saw a preview of the first “Help Me, Hannah!” video shortly before it went live. Annnnd I immediately noticed a few things.
Some of these things were what many viewers pointed out, such as the sound (we’re fixing that) and my constant hand movement. My hands were all over the place because I was nervous and jumpy as a cat. But I tend to gesture with my hands when I am en femme. Hannah is more animated than he is, I guess. Some said my hands were distracting, some said they helped my femme presentation as many women tend to speak and gesture with their hands and voice.
What I noticed is when I tilt my head up my head looked more squarish. My wig tends to frame my face in a more femme way and minimizes some of masculine features. My adam’s apple and jawline are more prominent as well.
I also noticed my biceps. There’s nothing wrong and nothing un-feminine about a nicely toned arm but I suppose I wasn’t used to seeing how… defined my upper arms are when I am en femme.
I also ramble a bit which was something I was prepared for. When I write for my website I can take as much time as I like (for example, I started writing this post two days ago) to get my point across (if I have a point). I can even edit a post for clarification after it goes live. Since I am not working with a teleprompter I am freewheeling a bit. Rambling, ums, ahs, are a given. I am likely not coming off as poised and as thought out as my writings might suggest.
And then there’s my shoulders…
The list goes on.
I do think that my overall femme presentation is good. I’m happy with how I look. How I carry myself and my body language and, well, my clothes and makeup, I feel helps me, ah, overcome my more masculine characteristics and attributes.
I think many of us are used to putting ourselves under the microscope, so to speak. We scrutinize small things, we beam when we look better than we expected to. If we take that step to post a picture we open ourselves up to what others might think of us. For good or for ill.
These videos are doing that but in different ways. People might (and have) commented on my voice, my movement, my body language, and so on. Things that a simple photo doesn’t have. These videos also have a wider reach than my website. Since En Femme is promoting and marketing these videos they are doing their thing to show them to a wider audience. They have a financial interest in getting these videos to people.
Which, of course, opens oneself up to a larger audience and any anonymous comments they might decide to make. Again, for good or for ill.
If I am being honest I am terrified of looking at the comments on YouTube. Tweets, emails, and comments on my own website have all been, for the most part, very nice and positive. But some rando watching these videos are likely a different story. I read the first dozen or so comments when the video first went up and they were all very nice and I decided that was enough. I didn’t want to stumble across a comment that was just flat out mean. I can take constructive criticism, I really can, but I think someone saying something just cruel would, well, I can’t really think of a reason I need to see that.
Besides, the video is there, it exists, it can’t be changed, it is what it is. I don’t own it, I can’t take it down. Overall I’m happy with it and I learned a lot.
And En Femme is happy with it too. That’s really important to me. I am representing their brand, their company. I want them to be happy. It’s an enormous honor and responsibility to be associated with them. I had a meeting with them a few days after the video was posted and the views and statistics and the like were very much inline with what they had hoped for.
Last night I wondered if this is what I want. For the last decade or so I’ve more or less controlled any notoriety I had. I watched web traffic slowly grow, I branched out into some social media, did some modeling… Although I was more “out there” it was all very much in my control. I could pull back on social media, I could quit blogging. If I ever got overwhelmed by my “celebrity status” I knew I could, well, disappear. That was comforting, if I am being honest. I could pull the plug, I could walk away.
I’ve decided to, well, ignore anything that scares me when it comes to these video statistics. If En Femme is happy and if you like them, that’s enough for me.