Stuck Inside on Coming Out

Yesterday was National Coming Out Day.


Like everything else in 2020 this really snuck up on me.  I have been who I am for a long time and my gender identity has evolved over the years and I am, for lack of a better term, used to who I am.  I have a remarkable life but things have happened so gradually and methodically that it feels very… normal.  Yet when I look back I remember that all of *this* started with wanting to wear panties.  I have been going out en femme for years and have done a lot of different things, whether shopping or attending a play or going to a museum or the gas station that I no longer think “OMG I AM OUT IN THE REAL WORLD”.  


Sometimes I forget I am trans when I am out, if that makes sense.  I forget that some people are seeing me as a t-girl whereas I am just… me.


I have become so accustomed to living my life in two different genders and having two separate lives because of that.  There is very little overlap, there are very, very few people in my boy life that know about my girl life.  When something like National Coming Out Day rolls around I am reminded that I have something to come out as.  It doesn’t always occur to me that I could come out to people in my boy life as something other than who they see.  


National Coming Out Day is a reminder of how complicated my life, and I suspect yours as well, is.  I am a little jealous of how simple it was for my brother to come out.  He said he was gay and everyone knew what that meant.  Sure, there were some questions and it took a little time for some family members to adjust but understanding he liked boys instead of girls was, well, simple, for lack of a better word.  When I came out to my mom it was a long conversation with a lot of qualifiers.  Yes, I am happy when I dress, no I am not unhappy when I am in boy mode.  Yes, I identify as a girl sometimes and no, I do not feel I was identified wrongly when I was born.  Yes, she has a name, and no, I don’t want to live my life as her exclusively.  And so on.  


It’s tiring and if I am being honest it’s frustrating.  I don’t blame my mom or others when I come out.  Questions are better than condemnation.  Trying to understand is better than anger.  Gender, in a binary sense has been around forever and will be with us for a very, very long time.  Colors, interests, clothes, cosmetics are all separated into things that are for boys or things that are for girls.  Any sort of variance or overlap isn’t common and many people would think it’s just… weird.  The straightest, toughest cismale in the world could wear a pink shirt and the expected comments and suppressed laughter will still follow.  A man willingly wearing to wear a dress, nail polish, whatever is met with bewilderment.  Why would a guy WANT to wear that?


National Coming Out Day is conflicting for those like us.  We have a hard enough time understanding this side of us, and it’s even harder for those who aren’t us.  Gender identity feels more complicated than sexual identity.  I’m sure it’s not, but I can only speak from my experiences.  In some ways I think it’s… well, not easier, but perhaps less complicated for those who have transitioned,  In some ways, there’s precedence for those who live their life as a different gender than the one they were identified as at birth.  Most people have heard of Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono, and Kaitlyn Jenner.  But there isn’t a lot of “famous people” who go back and forth between gender presentation.  


“I have always felt like a girl, so I decided to transition” is something that some of my friends have told me and have told their families.  To me, that sounds so simple.  I know it’s not and I am not trying to trivialize that conversation, please understand that.  I wish there was a simpler way to explain who I am, but I suppose that every non-cis person wishes that.  I just feel that there are so many facets to who I am.  Two days ago I walked around downtown Saint Paul in a beautiful dress, black stilettos, and a $75 makeover.  That night in “boy mode” I went to sleep in a nightgown and woke up this morning and put on a pair of femme leggings. To anyone that sees me, I am either in full girl mode, full boy mode (underdressing of course) or in boy mode wearing “girl clothes” (meaning femme jeans or going for a run in femme leggings).  Not many people in my life (either lives) sees more than one of these sides of me.  My wife does, but hardly anyone else does.  


I have accepted that I will likely never come out to more people in my boy life.  I would like to, sometimes I feel I am being dishonest with some of my oldest friends.  The thought of Hannah having coffee with people that only knew me exclusively as a boy sounds really nice.  


So, why not come out?  Well, it’s exhausting.  It’s usually worth it, though.  But there’s always a chance that some of the people in my life that I love would reject me.  Since I don’t feel that transitioning is right for me it sort of feels like that risk is too high, were I to come out and be rejected because of who I am.  I have known many people who I thought were supportive of every letter in the LGBTQ+ community only for them to crack a joke about a transperson.  It’s heartbreaking.  


I am proud of everyone who has come out, whether to their co-workers, their families, to their spouses, and to themselves.  It’s not easy to be who we are, believe me.  It creates an insane amount of overthinking and insecurity and fear.  I live with the anxiety that being who we are causes, even if I don’t feel it at every moment.  Although on a surface level my life en femme may look different than yours, please understand that we all live with the same feelings, the same conflicting emotions, the same challenges, the same yearning to be able to be who we are whenever we want and for as long as we want.  I would have loved to have met up with my mom for dinner after my photo shoot on Saturday, but I knew that were that to happen I would need to go home, wash off my makeup, and change back to boy mode before I could see her.  I like being bi-gender, I like who I am, I just wish the lines in my life weren’t as divided as the different sides of my closet.


Love, Hannah

Identity and Responsibility

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.  


Love, Hannah

Ask Hannah!

A few questions…
1) How do you parents and siblings react to Hannah?
2) What were your sources and how did you manage being Hannah growing up?
3) Why did you change your last name from Gotta to McKnight?


My mom has only met Hannah once… and it was a little weird for both of us. I had hoped it would have been an opportunity for her to get to know me better, but it wasn’t met to be. I had hope for a long time that things could change, but I think that ship has sailed.

My sisters only met Hannah once or twice. My mom and sisters are wonderful, accepting people, but again, I think it’s a little weird for them. I don’t press it.

I didn’t identify as transgender until I as in my early 30’s. I didn’t see myself as bi-gender until around that same time. Thus, Hannah wasn’t around when I was growing up. If that makes sense… and I bet it does to a lot of you.

My femme last name wasn’t ever really ‘Gotta’. When I started posting online I needed a name of course, and I came up with “Hannah Gotta” as it rhymed with “onnagata” the Japanese word for male actors who play women’s roles in Japanese Kabuki theatre. Onnagata sort of rhymes with Hannah Gotta, so that’s the name I used when I was online. I think I was trying to be clever and I never meant for “gotta” to be a last name. Eventually I decided I needed a proper last name and I decided on McKnight.

Love, Hannah

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

Ask Hannah!

I know deep down that this is a question that I can probably only answer myself but I’d love to hear your thoughts.


I’m married with 3 kids 2 of my own and my step daughter. My wife and step daughter know about Erica and are very accepting of my dressing. My Son and daughter do not know of it and I really don’t know if I want them to. I think my daughter would be ok with it but I think my son would take it really hard. For reference my daughter is 19 my son is 18. Anyway I have always joked with my daughter in the past whenever we’re at the mall or running around town that we should go get makeovers or go buy me a little black dress to wear and she always laughs and says yeah right I’d like to see that.

Well, the last couple weeks she’s brought up wanting to do my makeup and give me a makeover to which I laugh it off and say I don’t know only if I can wear a dress and heels to go with it! She says go for it Lol


Anyway I know I would love it and think it would be fun but I’m scared that I’d let the cat out of the bag so to speak if I enjoy it a little to much or walk in my heels a little too well! I guess what I’m asking is for your thoughts on if I should let her do this or not? Like I mentioned I know I’m the only one who can answer this.

Thanks in advance Hannah for any insight you could provide.

Yes, you are 100% correct, only you can answer this.

But here are some things to consider.
Once you come out to someone, it can never ever be taken back. You can’t go back into the closet. Even if you never talk to someone about this side of you after coming out to them, they will always know and your relationship will forever be changed. It might be better, it might be… well, weird, it might be tense. It might be a big shift or subtle, but it will impact your relationship.

If you keep bringing up things like makeovers or pedicures or dresses, eventually your daughter will notice a pattern. She may or not “figure it out” but she will likely notice that you talk, even jokingly, about this stuff a lot.

Of course, she may already know about this side of you and might be dropping hints that she knows about you and might be inviting you to come out to her. I don’t know, I can’t say.

When we do come out to someone, we need to be gentle, we need to go slow sometimes. If I were to come out to someone at this point in my life, I probably wouldn’t bombard them with everything Hannah does (modeling, this website, the MN T-Girls, etc). Who Hannah is, and everything I do would likely overwhelm anyone and I wouldn’t blame them. This side of us is going to be a shock to almost anyone in our lives so its best to take it slow.

I hope this helps!

Love, Hannah

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

Ask Hannah!

Knowing what you know now, from a hypothetical view, is there anything you’d do differently or do as before?

Hmm.  Wow.

Let’s… ah, reflect on this.

0222It’s easy and natural to look back on your life and think about what you did, what you should have done, and what you wish you did.  It’s not necessarily healthy or recommended, but it is what it is.

Since I tend to look at everything from two sets of eyes, I also think about situations from Hannah’s perspective, or at least with this side of me as a factor.

Of course there are things I wish I had done differently.  There have been dresses and heels that I kick myself for not buying or outfits I regret purging, but there’s nothing I can do about that now.  🙂

On a more serious note, there have been conversations I’ve had with friends where I thought to myself at the time that this would be a perfect and appropriate moment to share this side of me with them.  But the opportunity passed.

We often don’t have the perspective until later where we wish we had done something differently or taken advantage of a situation.  Sometimes we wish we had done something or didn’t do something, but given more time we realize that perhaps we did indeed make the right call after all.

I can’t really think of anything specific that I wish I did that I don’t think I will have the chance to do so in the future.  Conversations with friends where the time was perfect to talk about who I am may have passed, but there can come around again, either naturally or by sitting down to have that discussion.

I don’t want to regret anything.  No one does.  I don’t want to be at the end of my life and wish I had done this or that.  Not to be… dark or anything, but this moment feels like a chance to examine our lives and think about what we want.  Right now we are confined to our homes, we can’t go out (and we shouldn’t) and I spend many moments throughout the day thinking about where I will go, what I will do, and what I will wear when these days are over.  In a way, it’s like a second chance.

Perhaps I took time for granted before shelter in place became a thing.  I always thought there would be time to do what I wanted or go where I pleased.  But we don’t have that freedom today.  It’s easy to think about what we wish we did before now.

When this passes, I am going to do these things.  I am going to wear that dress, I am going to schedule that photo shoot.  I am going to have that talk (eh, probably not).

I do have the perspective and appreciation that my life is amazing beyond my wildest dreams.  Not only when it comes to this side of me, but I have a wonderful wife, a job I enjoy, a home, friends, and my health.  Everything worked out.

So, I really can’t think of anything too specific that I would have done differently…

Well, scratch that.  Perhaps there is one thing.

I wish I had come out to my mom differently.  I wish I had waited until I identified as transgender as opposed to identifying as a crossdresser.  Coming out with a gender identity, as opposed to revealing that I have a very different wardrobe than what most men have are two different things in my opinion.  I came out to her in regards to what I do, what I wear.  These days I would come out as to who I am.

Love, Hannah

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

Specialized Clinics for Transgender Youth

From Public News Service:

A recent study found more U.S. teens are identifying as transgender or gender nonconforming. Health-care providers are taking notice by opening clinics that provide specialized care for these youths.

That includes a facility that recently opened in Minneapolis. It’s run by the Children’s Minnesota health system. Dr. Angela Goepferd is the medical director for the program. She said kids who fall into this group face health disparities, and their parents often lack resources when seeking guidance.

“Families often don’t know where to go or who to turn to with those questions,” Goepferd said. “And even when they do find themselves in their pediatrician or family-practice doctor’s office, there’s often still questions.”

Goepferd said kids might need to see a consultant about how they want to identify, or they might seek gender-affirming hormone treatment. She said finding the right medical expert could take several months.

Children’s Minnesota said its new clinic is one of only about a dozen of its kind in the nation

More here!

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.

 

 

 

Ask Hannah!

I am in the process of transitioning from male to female and I am wondering whether I should present myself to my friends and relatives in female attire or male attire. No one knows about my decision except my wife. Our daughter is somewhat suspicious but she has not approached either one of us. What is your opinion ?? I will soon need to live as a woman for an entire year before I start the entire process. I am already on hormones and some body changes have already started (subtle). My wife is very supportive and is looking forward to us being best girlfriends. Your help will we greatly appreciated.

Coming out is one of the biggest steps you will ever take in life, and it will have ripple effects impacting everyone you know.  Some relationships may change and may become strained or strengthened.

To almost every one of us, identifying as transgender means something different.  Your transition is a moment in your life that is different than anything I have experienced, and your journey and gender identity is different than my own.  Our situations are very different, so although I can’t speak from experience, I hope I can be helpful.

As I mentioned before, coming out impacts everyone in your life… especially our partners.  Not only does this affect our relationships with our families, friends, neighbors and anyone else, it will also affect our partner’s relationships too.  It sounds like you are doing the right thing and taking each step alongside your wife.  Keep doing that.  When I have come out to others previously it was always after discussing it with my wife.  She’s very good at helping me sort my thoughts and helping me prepare for anything in my life, whether it is a talk like this or everything else.  It’s also a matter of courtesy to give her a heads up about who knows about this part of my life.

If you are working with a therapist, particularly a gender therapist, I would absolutely heed their advice.  They’re more qualified to guide you through this, especially as it pertains to your family.

That being said, if I were to come out to anyone else in my life, I would have a conversation with them first in male mode.  This revelation is a lot to take in, and the talk before them seeing Hannah would be a little less overwhelming.  If the person I came out to wanted to meet Hannah, then I would show them a photo before meeting them en femme.  The photo would also prepare them for what Hannah looks like. Meeting someone as a different gender identity and presenting as a different gender is a lot to process, and a photo first may help.

Plus I look better in photos than in real life.  🙂

Come out to people as you and your wife feel it is appropriate.  If you are already showing changes in your physical appearance you may want to do it sooner rather than later as people will start noticing (and likely talking and speculating about) what they are seeing.  It’s good to be able to control the narrative.  If I had a strong suspicion that someone knew about Hannah, or saw panties peeping out under my jeans, I would have a conversation with them to get ahead of it.  I would want to make sure that they would keep what they noticed, or suspected, a private matter.  Basically I would want to stop them before they started to gossip.

I hope this is helpful and I wish you the best of luck.

Love, Hannah

Support Group for Parents of Transgender Children

Earlier this month the Twin Cities chapter of PFLAG had their final meetingPFLAG is one the longest serving support groups for the LGBTQ+ community and they will be missed.  Thankfully they have many other chapters around the state and the country.

I was happy to hear that a support group for parents of transgender children will continue to meet as a separate group.

They will meet on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, from 6:30-7:45 pm at The Family Partnership, 4123 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406.  For more information, please contact them via email: info@tsupportgroup.com
Love, Hannah

 

New En Femme Blog!

There was a lot of comments and emails after I posted “Meeting your Heroes” not long ago.  Support, or lack of it, from our family was still on my mind as I wrote this article for En Femme.  The holidays can be a tense time for everyone, especially when they know about this side of us.  This thinking helped inspire this article and I hope you like it.

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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 journey as a self-described T-girl.
 
In previous articles for the Learning Center, Hannah has discussed the potential positive and negative consequences of coming out to one’s significant other. In her latest article – “Surviving the Holidays” – Hannah talks about coming out to one’s family members and shares her advice for getting through stressful family gatherings during the holiday season. Read it here>>

As Hannah says, keep your “chin up and heels high!”

Love, Hannah