Ask Hannah!

Hi Hannah, I’ve been cross dressing for almost 2 years now. Was it hard to go out in public for the first time, and what was your friends and family’s response?

It was hard to go out the first time, but each time I’ve gone out it has gotten easier.  The first time you go out, I would recommend going to a PFLAG meeting or another LGBTQ support group.  Knowing you are going to meet a supportive group of people will make our first time out a little easier.

Before you go out, please make sure you are ready.  Before I go out, I always make sure my purse has:

-Eyeliner

-Lipstick

-Finishing powder

-Mascara

That’s the fun stuff.  The reality is that I have a lot more in my purse than makeup.  I recommend every t-girl have the following in their purse:

-Cash.  This is pretty obvious but I use cash for everything when I go out.  If I want to get a coffee or need to pay for parking, I use cash.  I like cash because I don’t run the risk of turning over my credit card (with my male name) to a cashier.  I also bring my debit and credit card just in case.

-Proof of car insurance.  If you get into an accident or get pulled over, you’ll need to provide proof of insurance.  Simple enough but plan for the worst.

-Fully charged cell phone.  Pretty self-explanatory.  You’ll need it in case of emergency.  Any emergency.

-Roadside assistance information.  You need to know who to contact if you get a flat tire.  Sure, I can change a tire myself, but no way I am doing that in a dress or heels.

-Driver’s license.  Again, if you get pulled over…

-Spare car key.  If you’re not used to carrying a purse, you might forget to place your keys in it.  A spare key tucked in your purse saves a call to a locksmith.

-Medical insurance card.  Again, plan for the worst.

-A friend.  I don’t mean bring a friend with you, though shopping is a lot more fun if you do, but if you’re out to anyone in your life, drop them a message to let them know you’re stepping out.  It’s good to let someone know you’re out on the town in case you need help.

-I would also recommend downloading the Uber or Lyft app.  If you run into car troubles and need help, having this on your phone can be a lifesaver.  I have an app on my phone and I have multiple accounts associated with it.  One for my male life, one for Hannah.  I’ve used Uber as both genders and I’ve never had an issue.

Where should you go?

Anywhere you want, but plan ahead.  Is there a GLBT friendly coffee shop in town?  Maybe start there.  Or a GLBT bar?  That’s another option.  For your first time out, some of us go someplace where they’re used to seeing girls like us.  It’s important to get used to being out in public and it’s easier if you know you’re not the first t-girl, or the only t-girl there.  If there’s not a place like that in your area, I bet there’s a PFLAG or a Tri-Ess chapter that meets near you.

Being comfortable out will take time but you will get there.  I never thought I’d go to a restaurant or a mall or a gas station in heels, but I do it all the time.

Not comfortable yet in your area?  Drive to a bigger city.  Get a hotel room there, have an adventure!  Bigger cities tend to be more liberal and open minded than smaller towns.  When I go to downtown Minneapolis, I walk down the street confident in knowing I am not the first or last transgirl to strut that street that day.  Bigger cities have seen girls like us before.

Will people see you?  Of course they will.  You’re out in public.  Will they point?  Will they laugh?  Will they whisper behind your back?  Maybe.  But really, so what?  I go out all the time and very, very rarely does anything like that happen.  And the more often I go out, the less I notice it.  Will people recognize you?  Maybe.  If you’re afraid of that happening, again, go to a different town.

I know I was nervous people would point and snicker while I was out in the real world, but that hasn’t really happened to me.  I’ve interacted with everyone from baristas to shop clerks to gas station employees to waiters and I’ve never had a bad experience.  No one has been rude or laughed or anything.  The world is a wonderful place sometimes.

Safety is the number one concern, of course.  I know what parts of my city are safer and I’m sure you do too so don’t go there.  Go somewhere where you can park in a well lit area as well.  Going out for the first time is nerve wracking enough but going someplace a little iffy is just adding more stress that you don’t need.

Looking back, I have only come out to my friends who are LGBTQ, and it’s all gone very well.  Now that I think about it, I have only come out to maybe five friends.

Coming out to my mom and sisters were both very different experiences.  I think if I were to do it all over again, I definitely would do things differently.   I’ve written a little about this previously.  But, the short version is that my family loves me, they understand me as best they can and I love them.

Love, Hannah

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Ask Hannah!

Hey Hannah, 
How accepting is your family?   Are they accepting and you can be Hannah around them?   Or do they not want to see it.
Coming out as transgender can be challenging to our loved ones.  My family is accepting, supportive and are definitely advocates of the LGBTQ community.  However, regardless of how much of an ally you are, it can be difficult when someone you love comes out.
Identifying as transgender can add additional questions to our loved ones.  I’ve written before how being transgender can mean something different from individual to individual.  Some of us have transitioned, or want to transition, and for some of us it’s never crossed our mind.  Accepting a family member as transgender isn’t easy, but there is also the additional question of what it means to them and possibly what’s next for them.
My family knows they can go shopping or have a cup of coffee with Hannah whenever they’d like, but I don’t press anyone with this part of me.  I have also written previously about how I think it’s important we try to be conscious of who we are to our loved ones and be gentle and considerate when we come out.
Of course, if we waited for everyone we know to be “ready” to meet us, we may never get to be ourselves.  I also am speaking as someone who does not want to live full-time, so it’s easier for me to accommodate my dual genders and the rest of my life.  I realize everyone’s needs and lives our different, and can only speak for myself.
Love, Hannah

So, This Happened…

day 2 dressI had a feeling, almost a premonition, that something interesting was going to happen when I went out yesterday.  I started by picking out my outfit, a white dress with a floral pattern and matched it with a pair of nude pumps as seen in the photo to the left.  But at the last second I replaced it with a hot pink dress and matching stilettos as shown in the photo below.

My makeup looked good.  My mascara made my eyelashes so long that they cast a shadow on my face.  My lipstick matched my outfit.  Whatever was going to happen, I was going to face it by looking fabulous.  I was going to meet up with a friend for dinner and I had some time to kill so I went to the mall.  I popped into a few stores and then as I rounded a corner, I saw her.

I saw my mom.

1I came out to my mom a few years ago, when I still identified as a crossdresser.   I still identify as a crossdresser but I feel transgender is more appropriate.  It was a surprise to her and although my mom is a wonderful person and supportive of the GLBTQ community, she wasn’t prepared for this revelation and it didn’t go as well as I had hoped.  But I think I could have explained myself better.  I think had I explained what it meant for me to identify as trans as opposed to me wearing dresses and heels it might have gone differently.  I think when I started to identify as transgender instead of a crossdresser I went from “this is what I like to do” to “this is who I am”.

I was excited for her to meet Hannah.  I wanted  very much to go shopping with my mom, to meet for coffee.  To be a daughter, even if only for an afternoon.  But it wasn’t meant to be.  She was glad I was honest with her but wasn’t ready to meet Hannah.

Over the next few months, we had a few more conversations but I didn’t feel they were going anywhere.  I soon gave up on the hope of her meeting Hannah.  It would still hurt from time to time, however.  I knew my mom loved and accepted me, but I couldn’t help feeling sad that there was this part of my life, another half of my life, that she didn’t want to know.

 

I could have pressed, but I respected her feelings.

Lately it has been on my mind, though.  I wondered if enough time had passed for me to broach the subject again.  When I considered this, most of the time I decided to drop it.  When I didn’t decide to drop it, I wondered how to do it, and ended up dropping it anyway.  But yesterday my mom faced me in the most literal way possible: by running into me at the mall.  Because of course I was at the mall.

As we walked towards each other, I didn’t have that sense of panic.  It was more like…what should I do here?  I remembered my mom saying she didn’t want to meet me, but it felt wrong to just pass by her and not say anything.  But I also felt like this was my chance.  It was meant to be.

After the initial shock, we got to chatting.  Small talk, how the week went, what was coming up later on in the month, my sisters, weekend plans.  I am sure running into Hannah was the last thing she expected to happen on her Saturday trip to JCPenney’s but my mom bounced back well and was comfortable, chatty, friendly and just…normal.  It didn’t feel weird or tense.

We ended up walking around the store and talking for about 20 minutes until she was off on her next errand.  In the parking lot I told her that I knew she didn’t want to meet me and that I was sorry it happened.  I am not sorry for who I am, but I respected her decision to not meet me.  I told her that this afternoon was something I had dreamed of for a very long time.  I let her know if she ever wanted to go shopping or have a coffee that I would love to meet up with her.

I was surprised at how emotional I was when I told her this.

We said our goodbyes, she told me she loved me (as she always does when I see her) and she hugged me.  Do you know how long I’ve wanted her to hug Hannah?

I walked back to the mall and immediately texted my wife.  After I told her what happened, we exchanged this:

unnamed

My evening went as planned and later my wife called my mom just to check in with her now that she met me.  My mom was supportive and talkative, had some questions for my wife and was very encouraging.  I suppose ten years ago I never thought I would have had a day like yesterday…having a wife who is supportive, having the confidence to go out, having the courage to tell my mom and for my wife and my mom to chat about my gender identity on the phone.

I never really thought what occurred yesterday would ever happen and who knows if she’ll ever see me again.  Yesterday life became a whole new world for myself and for my mom.  It was full of new.  I mean, how often does your mom meet you for the first time?

Love, Hannah