Love and Marriage and Crossdressing

mock book cover

Hi girls!  I am getting close to finishing my first draft of ‘In-Between’.  Many of you asked for a section about coming out to your spouse after you’ve gotten married.  This wasn’t an easy chapter to write and I really want to thank everyone who wrote in about their experiences with this.  Marriage is not easy, and we all have reasons why we didn’t, or still haven’t, come out to our spouses. 

I do not believe that I am doing any favors by sugar-coating any aspect about who we are.  I would love to say that the entire world loves us, but that is not reality.  The truth is that when we go out into the real world there’s the chance that we will be looked at, laughed at, or worse. Rather I see what I do as a obligation to talk about what might happen in any scenario, whether it is hitting the mall or waxing your eyebrows and how to deal with any sort of comments or criticism.  It’s important to be prepared in everything we do.  Whether it’s making sure you have an extra car key hidden in your purse or mentally preparing yourself for the dude at the coffee shop who suppresses a smirk at seeing us, we need to be realistic, or perhaps even pessimistic, about what happens when we venture out of our homes or when we come out to someone.

I would love to have written an upbeat, completely optimistic book about how the world loves us and that nothing bad will ever happen and there will ever be a syllable of criticism or piece of legislation) towards us.  But that’s naive.  It’s important to be honest about who we are, not only with ourselves but with our partners.  

This chapter reflects the sometimes brutal and uncomfortable reality of not being honest with our partners.  

Love, Hannah 

You have done the impossible.  You have found your missing half, you have met your soulmate.  Until this moment, you never thought you would find THE ONE.  Sure, you’ve had crushes before, you’ve been in love, perhaps in a few relationships, some of them were even serious, but this, this is it.

You have fallen head over (high) heels for someone, someone who brings out the best parts of you, the one whom you would do anything for.

Anything including ignoring and denying this side of you.  You know what side I’m talking about.

You might be anywhere between wearing a pair of panties under your suit to work a couple of times a month to stepping out to the mall or club every weekend, but there’s a side of you that is not out to the world.  And you intend to keep it that way.

Even from the new love of your life.

You can control this, can’t you?  Just… don’t wear lingerie.  Or makeup.  Or that cute dress.  You are so in love that you can do anything, even overcome the pull of beautiful clothes.  This part of you would confuse this new, amazing person in your life.  They might be scared off.  They won’t understand this side of you.

It’s true, they probably won’t understand this side of you.  I’ve been married for over ten years and my wife doesn’t understand this side of me.  I don’t either.  But this is who I am.

It’s easier to put this part of us away.  To tell ourselves it was, or is, a phase.  To tell ourselves that we have (or will) outgrow this.  Better to keep it a secret and never do it again than risk losing your incredible love.  You know you should be honest, you know you should put all your cards on the table.  But part of you tells yourself that you are not *that* person anymore.  You have conquered your desires and since you won’t be dressing anymore, there’s no harm in continuing to keep it from them and from the world.

So, time passes and time moves quickly.  The relationship is amazing and it’s everything you could have ever wanted from life.  You make commitments.  You buy a dog, you move in together, you propose, you get married, you have children.  You have a brand new life, a wonderful life.  You find joy in the routine, you find joy in your new shared life.  You face everything everything together.  You are married to your best friend and life is perfect.

But something is missing.  Your eyes linger on the girl at the mall.  Not because she’s cute, but because her outfit is.  You look longingly at your wife’s panties as you fold laundry.  You admire the shade of the lipstick she’s wearing.

Something is stirring inside you.  Something you thought you moved on from.  You heard that this side of you would never go away and that this is who you are, but you thought for sure you would be the exception.  That you would be able to move on.

But you heard correctly.  This is who you are.  This is not something that can be, or should be, overcome.  Instead this is something you need to be honest about.  Honest with yourself, and honest with your partner.

You find yourself wondering if you can fit into your wife’s new skirt.  You play around with the new eyeliner she picked up.  Your Googling takes you to websites you hope she doesn’t see.

You have started to keep something from your partner.  You don’t mean to, and you certainly don’t look at it that way.  We all have secrets, right?  But you know that this is a little different.  You don’t mean to be deceptive or dishonest, and it’s easy to justify keeping this from them because, well, they won’t understand.  Besides, you suppressed this part of you for the last few years, you can push it back down again.

But you can’t.  Who we are demands to be acknowledged.

Paranoia and guilt and fear seep in.  Terrified she might wonder why one of her bras is stretched out.  Scared she’ll see the browser history on your laptop.  The guilt from keeping this from her.

More justification sets in.  You’re protecting this part of you from her because she wouldn’t understand it.  It would only worry her.  You don’t need to put them through anything else in addition to everything you both have going on in life.  Raising a family is hard enough, she doesn’t need to be worried that her husband is transgender.

But this justification is usually a selfish one.  We think we might be doing something… noble by keeping this from them.  But not being honest with someone is usually done for the benefit of yourself.  Quite simply, you have a wonderful life with a beautiful person and it’s all you’ve ever wanted and you are terrified that this part of you will change everything.  So, just like before you met, this side of you is kept a secret.

This side of you started to stir, but now it’s getting harder to ignore.  You might be doing things you never thought you would do again. Maybe you have a pair of panties hidden in your gym bag.  Maybe you dress up in your hotel room when you are on that business trip.  Not only are you dipping your toe back into the water, you are also doing something you thought you would never do, which is not being honest with your partner.

The guilt grows.  You feel guilty for giving into this side of you.  You thought you conquered this, you thought you were strong enough to never ever do this again.  You are haunted and consumed by keeping something from your partner.  You feel terrible for not being honest with them.  You realize that yes, you should have told them years ago.

But now what?  You are eight years and two kids into a marriage.  You have a solid, wonderful life and you have a giant secret that could upend everything.  What will happen if and when they find out?

Yes, you can choose to keep it a secret.  This is the easiest and hardest thing to do.  It’s also the most dishonest.  It simply isn’t fair to keep anything from your partner.  You can justify something all you want, you can convince yourself you are protecting them, but in reality you are only protecting yourself.

I do not believe that we want to keep this, or anything, from our partners.  I believe that most people are good people and want to be honest with our spouses.  Keeping this a secret is on a different level, or so we tell ourselves.  It’s too late to tell them, we say to ourselves.  The longer we hold this secret the more it consumes us, and, in a way, makes it easier to continue to be dishonest.  It sometimes becomes easier to tell a big lie if you’ve been telling small ones.

And let’s not pretend that this isn’t lying.  You can tell yourself that there is a difference between not being forthcoming with everything and lying, but I don’t think our partners care about semantics.  If you are doing something or wearing anything you don’t want your partner to know about, then it’s dishonest.

I am not here to point fingers or shame anyone.  I know who we are is not easy.  I know how hard it is to come out to someone.  I am not perfect.  I let relationships get serious before I told them.  I learned from mistakes.  If you take anything from what I write, it’s that we need to be honest with ourselves, that there is nothing wrong or shameful about who are, and that this is not something we can stop.

This part of us is not easy to understand, it’s not easy to accept.  It’s not easy to explain.  It’s understandable why we want to, and why we try, to keep this from others in our lives.  But secrets have a way of being found out.  This is one of our biggest fears.

Perhaps your spouse is going through some old boxes in the garage, boxes they haven’t touched in five years.  Pretty safe place to keep your clothes, maybe.  But one day they’re doing some spring cleaning and they find heels that are too big for them.  A skirt that is definitely not theirs.  There’s confusion at first, and soon a slow, creeping realization as to who those clothes belong to.

Maybe your wife needs to use your laptop real quick to look something up and your browser history tells a story.  They always do.  Your phone is left in the other room and your spouse sees you have a notification of an email from Ashley.

Who’s Ashley?

Well, Ashley might be a t-girl you met online one night whom you struck up a friendship with.  But that’s not necessarily the assumption your partner will make.  Ashley is that new girl in your office.  An old girlfriend.  Someone your wife doesn’t know.  Your wife starts to think, and fear, the worst.  Something bad is happening, they think.  Their partner is having an affair.

But no, Ashley is a crossdresser from Pittsburgh and is emailing you a link where you can buy some amazing heels that go up to a size 14.  Whether or not your spouse is relieved by this can vary depending on the person.

Ashley’s email, the box of clothes, your browser history will turn your life upside down.  It’s completely natural for your spouse to perhaps do a little more digging into these revelations.  Yes, I suppose you could call it snooping but at this point you’ve been keeping something huge from them and I don’t have a lot of sympathy for someone who is lying to their partner.

You have now been caught.  Now what?

Everything is now under scrutiny.  You have lost your credibility.  How long have you been doing this?  (All your life, but that’s neither here or there at the moment).  Do you want to be a woman?  Are you gay?  Why did you lie to me?  That business trip last year?  That really wasn’t a business trip, was it?  You got an amazing makeover and spent the day en femme in Boston or wherever.

In situations like this, a couple deals with two things.  Not only is there the whole “my husband wears panties” fallout, but they also face the reality that you have this other life that you were lying about.

The bombshell has gone off and your life is a mess.  It might not always be a mess, but it probably will be for a while.  It will certainly change things. Not only do you have to come out to your partner, you are also doing it under the worst possible circumstances.  You didn’t want to come out, you didn’t want to be caught, and your spouse certainly didn’t want to find out this way.  They will likely feel angry, hurt, betrayed, and scared.

Be honest, can you blame them?  They may feel deceived because, well, you deceived them.  You weren’t honest with them.  They’re afraid of someone finding out, afraid of losing their husband.  They’re confused because we are not easy to understand.  You might feel that betrayed is a bit of a strong word but think about it.  There was something about you, something significant, that you held back from them.  You didn’t disclose something about yourself that you should have.

The dust will settle.  Slowly.  It will probably take time.  You and your spouse will have some really, really big talks.  Possibly with a counselor or a therapist.  Is your marriage in trouble?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  You did lie about something for a pretty long time.  You may not think that wearing heels is the equivalent as to having an affair or something, but that trust is destroyed.  Hopefully you will have a chance to rebuild it.

Your partner will need to fully grasp what this side of you means.  Why are you who you are?  Why do you want to wear makeup?  Why is this so important to you?  Are you gay?  Do you want to transition?

I am not saying that they will accept or understand this side of you.  This revelation, to be honest, has damaged many relationships to the state of disrepair.  Not necessarily because of your choice in underwear, but the fact that you lied for so long.  Possibly about many things.

I know that this is uncomfortable to read.  I know I am voicing the fears many of us have who haven’t come out to our spouses.  I know many will read this and will resolve to continue to keep this part of them a secret because of this potential fallout.  No one wants to put their spouse through this.  No one wants to put themselves through this either.  I wish I could be more gentle, but I really am not doing anyone any favors by pulling punches or downplaying what could happen if and when you are “caught”.

Getting caught from anyone takes away controlling how you come out to someone.  I wanted to come out to my mom and I’m glad I did because it was a lot easier to do this when I sat down with her one day as opposed to the day I bumped into her at the mall.  Talking to her, as well as talking to anyone, allows you to slowly ease them into this revelation.  It shocked my mom, as it would shock anyone, but I can’t imagine what it would have been like for both of us if she found out that day in JC Penney.

I came out to my wife two years before we got married.  I came out to her because she  needed to know exactly who she was marrying.  It wasn’t necessarily the same as needing support, but it was more like putting all my cards on the table.

If you are already married, then coming out becomes a lot harder.  But I still believe it’s the right thing to do.  I believe in honesty with your partner and I know you do too.  I know that this is on a different level than almost anything else we can possibly imagine, but it’s still important to tell the truth.

Some of us come out to our spouses because of the same reason we come out to anyone.  We come out because we want and need the support.  Perhaps this part of us creates a lot of conflict, tension, and uncertainty in us.  Perhaps we aren’t sure what this means.  Maybe we know that all of this is more than just wanting to feel beautiful from time to time.

I hope everyone is in a relationship with the person they love and trust more than anyone else in their life.  I hope you all have someone who you can turn to for everything, whether it’s sharing a funny meme, fixing a leaky faucet, or a serious discussion about gender identity.

Coming out to your spouse, whether because you are caught or because you get to a point where you feel you must, is not easy.  In both of these situations there will be some very serious conversations and decisions.

Of course, there are always those who have accepted and embraced this part of them and want to come to their partner because they want to share this part of them.  On one hand it’s good that they are comfortable with who they are and they understand where they are in their (ugh) journey, but on the other hand it’s important that they are coming out for the right reasons and have realistic expectations.

Please do not assume your partner is going to be thrilled with this revelation.  They will (probably) not offer to hit the mall with you to expand your wardrobe or dress up with you and go out for dinner as girlfriends.  They aren’t going to look at this as a benefit because you have an expansive array of high quality makeup that they can borrow.

Yes, there are t-girls out there that have supportive and participating partners.  They join their spouses on shopping trips or help pick out clothes.  This will likely take time.  They still may be hurt, scared, and even upset at first.  Yes, it’s good you came out but it’s a side of you that should have been disclosed before your relationship got serious.

Regardless of how your partner learned about this side of you, your relationship has now significantly and irreversibly changed.  You can’t unring a bell, remember.  So, now what?

One scenario is the one every one of us hopes for.  The girlfriend scenario.  You and are spouse shop together, go out together, have girls nights in.  Your spouse is supportive and participates in your en femme activities.  Having supportive people in your life, particularly your wife, is a treasure and not something you should take for granted.

Another outcome is a spouse who is supportive, or is at least tolerant of this part of you.  They may set boundaries on what you do or where you go en femme.  They may request you don’t leave the house dressed up.  Or at least avoid certain parts of the city to reduce the risk of running into people you know.  They may request you do not post photos on line.  Sometimes I think partners in this scenario are the most patient and the most stressed.  They aren’t sure why we are who we are, but they know that this is an important part of us that we can’t deny or change.  They may prefer we don’t have this side, but they understand it’s not going away.

If you have boundaries or restrictions, please, please respect them.  You already put your partner through hell when you came out and there may still be lingering trust issues.  The last thing you should ever do to anyone is give them another reason to not trust you.  Lying about something you lied about before is a pattern.  Why should they believe you?

Coming out is the hardest thing some of us will ever do.  It’s not easy to explain to who we are.  It’s hard to put into words feelings and thoughts and experiences and desires that we have hidden from the world for our entire lives.  Telling someone, especially our partners reveals a side of us that we have protected for as long as we can remember.

Coming out is essentially opening your heart and hoping that it doesn’t get broken.  It leaves us at our most vulnerable.  We hope that our secret doesn’t drive someone away or get met with ridicule or worse.  We pray they keep our secret.  We want to still be loved.

Putting your heart on the line like that can strengthen a relationship.  When I came out to my wife she had long suspected there was… something about me that I kept from her.  She had no idea what and this was certainly the last thing she could have imagined.  But in the days and years after I told her and as my (ugh) journey progressed, we were honest about what was happening and what we were thinking and feeling in response to all this.  I was more open with her than I had ever been before.  Not only with this, but with everything.  I didn’t have any secrets anymore.  I had given her my heart in many ways, and this was no different.

Every relationship will deal with this in their own way. It wasn’t always easy for my wife.  This side of us never is easy for our partners.  Some relationships will find a way to make it work, some will enter into a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ dynamic.  The secret is out, discussions were had, and there is an understanding between two people that this will not be discussed any further.  Usually in this type of, well, let’s call it an agreement, the dressing will continue and they may go out of the house, but their partner doesn’t want to know the details or about anything related to this side of them.  Call it a compromise or an uneasy truce or a comfortable arrangement.

It’s important to acknowledge and understand that every partner will react to this side of you differently.  If they cannot accept this part of you, it does not make them a bad person.  This side of us is not easy to understand and we need to accept responsibility and own up to the fact that we entered into a committed relationship without being completely honest with them.

Yes, I know.  You didn’t want to come out because you thought this would scare them away.  I get it.  But you probably should have done it anyway.  I have had crossdressers tell me that they didn’t tell their wives about this part of them until after they were married because it would be too hard to back out after they said ‘I Do’.

Quite frankly, that is a really shitty thing to do.

I understand it’s terrifying to come out to anyone.  Will we be mocked?  Ridiculed?  Will they share our secret with everyone in your life?  It’s a risk to come out.  Believe me, I understand.  Coming out to your spouse adds a whole new possibility that most people want to avoid: divorce.

Yes, marriages end because of this.  Not every spouse can handle this side of us.  That doesn’t make either of you bad people.  I don’t necessarily think it’s simply the crossdressing that ends a committed marriage.  It does sometimes, but how you come out and the fallout is also a factor.

Nor being honest or forthcoming or being deceptive can damage any relationship regardless of what you are lying about.  If a relationship isn’t sustained by trust, than what is it built on?

Coming out is scary, but it can also be empowering.  It is wonderful to accept and embrace this side of you but we must be careful to not let this newfound confidence blind us to how we relate to others in our lives.  If you come out to your wife and tell her that this is who you are and she can’t change you and that this is how it’s going to be, well, that’s kind of abrasive.  Relationships are two people working and communicating together.  Not being considerate to how your partner is reacting or feeling isn’t fair, to say the least.

There’s no right way to come out.  There are many wrong ways to come out.  I don’t know how you should come out to your partner.  I do know that you need to be honest and kind.  Remember that this will forever change the dynamic between the two of you.  They will never look at you the same way again.  You just peeled back a layer of you that was hidden and to them, you are a different person and they see you in a new light.

Coming out to them is not unlike sharing with them difficult news.  I am not saying wearing panties is the equivalent of finding out that your job is being transferred 900 miles away or that you are bankrupt, but rather knowing that sharing this is something that will impact your relationship in an irreversible way, regardless of what direction the two of you take.

I understand marriage is not easy.  I understand that each relationship is different.  What works with two people will not necessarily work with another couple.  It’s up to you to decide what you choose to do in your relationship.  Coming out should always be a choice and personally it’s a choice I encourage you to make before your relationship gets serious.

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Unringing a Bell

Many of us were, or perhaps even still, in denial about who we are and about what we want to wear.  Once we stop denying that we want to wear makeup, or heels, or panties, or… a latex french maid outfit, we begin to accept that this is who we are.

Once we accept it, in some ways, we feel a little powerless.  We are no longer denying our wishes or desires.  We have let our heart decide something for us and we have given something up.  We have given up our resistance.

Feeling beautiful has won.

And what’s wrong with that?  I think it’s wonderful.  We have denied, resisted, and ignored a part of us that wanted to wear a beautiful dress for too long.   This feeling became too strong, too loud, too persistent for us to ignore.  We have accepted that this is who we are.

You may finally admit to yourself that you are a crossdresser, or perhaps you identify as transgender, or maybe you aren’t ready, or don’t want to use a word quite yet about what this side of you is.  Don’t be in any hurry to label yourself. It will probably change over time anyway.

Acceptance is one thing.  You have acknowledged that this part of you isn’t going away, you can’t resist it, and despite years of purging, you always find your way back to the lingerie department or shoe store.  This isn’t a phase, you are not going to outgrow it, you aren’t going to change.

And why should you?  Why should I?  I’m not going to change.

Beyond acceptance is embracing this side of you.  Many of us take a long time to love and celebrate this part of themselves, if they ever get there at all.  The difference between acceptance and embracing comes down to, in my opinion, joy.

Yes, you have accepted you like wearing panties, but embrace this about yourself.  Let yourself find happiness in choosing what you will wear each day.  Have fun with this side of you.  Be excited.  Be curious.  Let yourself add the prettiest pair to your lingerie drawer.

Move beyond the feelings that haunted you before.  You’ve looked longingly at that dress at the mall for too long, now it’s time to add it to your closet.  Allow yourself to find happiness in shopping for a beautiful wardrobe.

Embracing this part of us can take a long time, but it can also go very quickly.  This is a good reminder to be aware of the Pink Fog.  Embracing this part of us is wonderful and its truly the best gift you can give yourself, but it’s important to use caution.

It’s tempting to want to share this part of us with people in our lives.  We have gotten over the self-imposed (and hopefully the society-imposed) taboo about breaking out of gender norms and gender roles.  We have decided to be happy, to be ourselves, no matter what box is checked on our drivers license.  We have conquered something internally, something that we wrestled with for too long.  We have made steps (even baby ones) to challenge what the world thinks a boy should wear.

We have become queens.

Or princesses.

Or french maids.

We want to share our victory with the world, or at least with the people in our lives.  We are ready to say that we have denied this part of ourselves for too long, but we have decided to love ourselves, to stop fighting who we are, and to present as any gender as we wish.  We are, and we should be, proud of ourselves.

We are living our truths.

I was at a point where I also wanted to share this side of me with the people in my life.  I felt as I had broken through the societal illusions and restrictions and boundaries of what gender was and what we were taught it should be.  I felt… enlightened.  I no longer thought I should deny who I was and I realized how… silly gender norms were.  I was told all my life boys don’t wear skirts but no one really knew why that was.  I felt like a rebel in a way, pushing back against something arbitrary but also in a way, strictly enforced.

Yes, this is a little extreme but when we conquer something, especially when we overcome something in ourselves that held us back for some long, a victory can come of as a little…. grandiose.

If I didn’t think it was a big deal to wear a dress, why would anyone?

Of course, it’s not that simple.  Coming out to my family resulted in varying, if not disappointing, outcomes.  Some of that is on me and the way I came out, but there’s nothing I can do about that now except learn from it for if and when I come out to anyone else in my life.

It’s natural and normal for us as people to want to share our victories and moments of enlightenment with others in our lives.  We get a raise, we hit a hole-in-one, go on an amazing vacation… these are things we share on Facebook.

But those are not the same kind of victories as embracing the part of you that wants to wear whatever you want to wear.  This is a complicated and at the same time, a very simple thing to understand.  It’s complicated because people want to know why we are who we are, but there really isn’t a satisfying answer for anyone.  It’s simple because, well, it is what is.  We just want to wear makeup, or heels, or panties or a latex french maid outfit and that’s all there is to it.

Still, the feeling of wanting to break free and sharing this side of us persists.  It grows, it subsides, ebbs and flows.  Like a river, it can rage or slowly flow.  This feeling, along with getting lost in the fog can lead to coming out to others in our lives that…well, they don’t really need (or want) to know.

We have to think clearly and thoroughly about who we come out to, as well as why we want to.  Being honest with our significant others, partners, spouses, yes, that is a given.  But what about the others in our lives?  Do our siblings need to know?  Do your children?  Parents?  Friends?  Co-workers?  Mailman?

Did my mom and siblings need to know?  No.  No, they did not.  So, if they didn’t need to know, then why did I come out to them?  Simply put, I wanted to share this part of me, this literal other half of myself.  I was happy with who I was, I was proud that I found who I was.  I wanted them to know me as both of the genders I identified as.

I wanted to go out for coffee with my mom, to shop with my sisters.

Again, coming out to them was met with an outcome that wasn’t what I had hoped for, but I had to take a chance.

For those like myself who live in-between, it’s a little different than those who feel they want to live full-time, take hormones and/or transition.  I do not think that anyone else needs to know about Hannah.  If I come out to anyone else it’s because I want to.

So, do I want to?  Sometimes.  Not often.  Sometimes I feel like being honest with a few close friends, not necessarily because I want them to know Hannah (but there is that) but because they are lifelong friends and this is an important part of who I am.  I can’t really put my finger on it, but sometimes I feel that I should be honest with them.

There were times in the early days when I was lost in the fog and almost came out to others.  Looking back I am so glad I didn’t.  Coming out then would have been a mistake.  Like coming out to my family, I lacked the perspective that I have now.  I didn’t know myself then as I do now.  Once you come out, then it’s out there.  You can’t unring a bell, there are no second chances.  Believe me, I know.

Some of this seems contradictory to my core beliefs.  I believe that we are beautiful and whole and who we are should be embraced and celebrated.  We should not feel ashamed about what we wear or about our gender identity or how we present.  We should be honest with ourselves and with others.

However, I also believe that who we are cannot really be explained.  It’s not easy to understand why anyone is the way they are.  No one really asks someone why they like to golf or why they like wearing a certain color.  These are hobbies and preferences that make someone who they are.  But when you come out and say that you love wearing skirts or nightgowns then we are hit with an endless amount of questions.

Yes, I know wearing a dress is not the same thing as driving a little cart around a golf course, but I think you see my point.

Who we are is easily misunderstood.  Aside from being honest, there’s no right way to come out to someone.  If I had a second chance to come out to my family, I would certainly do it differently.  I would choose my words more carefully.  I would be more clear because it is important to control the narrative.  If you aren’t direct and honest, then it is easy for someone to misinterpret or misunderstand this part of you.  I know it’s not easy for us to understand why we are who we are, let alone someone else understanding it.

Coming out to someone is trusting them with something that could have a significant impact on your life.  Come out to a co-worker?  They could report you to Human Resources and as of this writing it is legal for you to be fired for being transgender in 26 states.

Who we are is beautiful but easily misunderstood.  We are feared and hated.  We need to be safe at all times and that has as much to do with being aware of our surroundings as well as being careful as to who we come out to.  I hope for a day when things gender identity and gender presentation are as boring and as commonplace as golf, but I don’t think that day is coming anytime soon.

Love, Hannah

Let it Go

We cannot change who we are.

No matter how many times we purge our closet, we are still crossdressers, t-girls, and however else you choose to identify as.

You can toss out your wardrobe but you cannot walk away from who you are.

And why should you?  You’re perfect the way you are.

Once you give yourself the gift of accepting yourself (yes, that sounds a little corny but it truly is a gift), you will feel a huge weight off your shoulders.  You are no longer fighting yourself.  You are no longer putting the time and energy into denying who you are.  You are no longer consumed with wondering why you want the things you want.

And it’s wonderful.

Since you’ve accepted this side of you, you may as well embrace it.  You are no longer hating yourself for who you are.  It’s time to do the opposite.  Love who you are.  Love yourself by buying that dress, wearing those panties, waking up in a nightgown, getting a manicure.  How long have you been wanting to do that?  How many trips to the mall have you walked past that cute dress shop wanting to go in?  Probably a million times.  Or at least it feels that way.

Going from accepting who you are to full on embracing yourself can be a slow process, but it can also go very quickly.  Every step of our journey (ugh, that word) is likely going to be overthought and analyzed to death.  It’s true we can overthink this part of us.  We can spend years wondering why we are who we are, why we want to wear those patent red heels.  But really, there is no why.  This is who we are.

Of course, not thinking things through is risky.  Remember the Pink Fog?

Being lost in the fog can very quickly lead to making decisions that might not be the best choice to make at that time.  Sure, we might go a little crazy with shopping online and our credit card bill takes a hit from building our shoe collection, but hey, a t-girl needs shoes.

The biggest risk when we are lost in the fog is outing ourselves to others when it might not be the best time.  Yes, we can overthink and over-analyze ourselves to death, but we need to be very clear and comfortable about who we are before we out ourselves to someone.  Sometimes this takes time, sometimes it takes the help of a support group or a therapist.

When coming out to someone, one should be prepared to discuss their sexuality (because you will very likely be asked if you are attracted to men) as well as if you want to transition.  We might have very quick responses to these questions, but… are you sure?  I don’t think there is much of a connection between gender identity/gender presentation and sexuality, but I think for many of us, especially at first, we are pretty sure this is all about clothes.

“I just want to wear lingerie/dresses/whatever.  I don’t want to be a girl, I don’t want to wear makeup, I am not transgender.”  How many of us have said this to ourselves or someone else?  Sure, it’s impossible to predict or guess what we might want in six months or in ten years, but we need to give this side of a us a little time once we’ve accepted ourselves before we can make such statements.

Go into these conversations thinking about why you are coming out to them.  Do you need support?  Are you coming out because you are considering transitioning?  Are you simply tired of keeping a side of yourself a secret?

Before you come out to someone, I encourage you to live with this part of you for a bit.  Try different things.  See what feels right.  For some of us, this is absolutely about lingerie.  They might branch out into dresses or getting a makeover and realize that is not who they are.  For some, and this was my experience, I completely thought this was about underdressing.  Then I tried makeup.  And dresses.  And heels.  And a wig.  I kept going.  I stopped identifying as a crossdresser and started to identify as transgender.

And then I stopped.  There was no next step.  One would imagine I was probably heading towards hormones or living full time with the progression I had.  But the idea of hormones or anything “permanent” never appealed to me.  I love who I am, and I love being able to go back and forth between genders.  I am always comfortable and happy with however I present.  I like not having one gender.  I like having options.

I came out to my mom and sisters when I identified as a crossdresser.  For me, it was all about clothes at this time.  Yes, I had a femme name and went out, but I didn’t realize at the time how my gender identity had really changed.  And that’s really the key factor, isn’t it?  Identity.  These clothes weren’t just fabric, they meant something more.  They were as tied into my personality and identity as much as anything else that made me who I am.

When I came out to them, I felt like they just…they just didn’t get it.  There wasn’t much of a reaction after the initial shock.  There were some questions but that was really about it.  I was surprised by what I felt was a somewhat muted response.  I felt like I dropped  a bombshell but the fallout was unremarkable.

Of course, this is a favorable reaction to being disowned, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for.  When we want to come out to someone, I believe we need to think about what we want from them.  For some of us, we want someone to talk to.  We want support, we want someone to confide in, we want someone to get pedicures with.  I’ve come out to different people in my life for different reasons.  Years ago, I came out to a roommate of mine because I was tired of hiding my clothes in case she happened to see my laundry, or whatever.  I came out to my family is because I wanted them to know to know all of me, I wanted them to know Hannah.

But that didn’t happen.  It’s not their fault.  We need to be responsible for explaining our gender identity to others.  We need to be a thousand percent confident with who we are so we can help someone else understand this as best as possible.  I came out and talked about, essentially, dressing up.

Looking back, I wish I had come out in a much different way than I did.  I wish I had waited a little longer.  I could have explained myself so much better if I had given it a few more months.  I would have come out as transgender.  I would have spoken about gender identity instead of just makeup.  I feel I missed the chance for them to get to know me, for them to get to know her.  I could have explained why this side of me was important and the support I wanted to find from them.  You only get one chance to come out to someone and although there is no right way to do this, there are ways I could have done this better.  I should have discussed gender identity.  I think I avoided this because I didn’t want to overwhelm them.  I wanted to ease them into the conversation.  But that was the wrong choice.  I had one opportunity to come out and I should have gone all in.

I came out to them because although I had accepted myself decades ago, I had now fully embraced who I was.  I had moved from lingerie to…well, Hannah, and I knew I was finished with my…sigh, journey.  I thought it was a perfect time to come out.  I was happy with who I was and I wanted to share this side of me with others.  I wanted my family to meet Hannah.  To go to a movie with her.  To have coffee with her.  But after I came out, I didn’t see that happening.  Perhaps if I came out to them a few months later things would be different.

Yes, I could revisit the conversation, but truth be told, my family seems a little uncomfortable with discussing this.  Not that they are not good people, they are.  They love me, the care for me, they are allies of the LGBTQIA community, and are supportive of all gender and sexual identities.  But it is different when a family member comes out.  It’s normal to take a little time to process it and come to terms with it.  I absolutely understand this.

But as I said, if I came out in a different way, perhaps we would be able to have a different conversation, a different relationship, than we do.

It’s safe to say I jumped the gun, a bit.  I was lost a little in the Pink Fog.  I was so happy with who I was and I wanted to share me with the people in my life.  I had a vision in mind with my sister having lunch with Hannah, I hoped for a day of shopping with my mom.  But those invitations did not come.  If I came out differently, if I waited a little longer, perhaps things would be different.

It is safe to say I was slowly devastated and heartbroken as I gradually accepted that Hannah would not have the relationships with my family that I had hoped for.  I held out for the chance for a long time but despite a few attempts at revisiting the conversation, it became pretty clear that who I am makes them uncomfortable.

And that’s okay.  Well, it’s not okay that someone’s gender identity makes someone uncomfortable, but I’ve accepted that this will happen.

You cannot expect someone to love you.  To love all of you.  We are a complicated community.  We are not easy to understand.  I mean, we don’t even understand ourselves and we are ourselves (not that we need to understand ourselves, we just need to know and accept ourselves).

It took a long time for me to be okay with this.  Sometimes I’m not, but for the most part I have accepted this and stopped hoping for a change.  Sometimes I get sad realizing that they didn’t even try to understand me.  That no one really wanted to meet Hannah.  That they didn’t want to know all of me.

It stung.

I mean, we know that not everyone in the world will love and accept us, whether we are trans or not.  But it stings when your family doesn’t.  It stings when they don’t even try to understand.  Isn’t your family supposed to at least try?

Again, my family is wonderful, and I shoulder some of the responsibility for how things happened.  I could have come out better.  But there’s nothing I can do about that now.

So, how do we handle not being accepted by the people we love?

How do we let it go?

I suppose there’s two ways.

One way is just telling yourself that it doesn’t matter, but I believe you have to work your way to that level of acceptance.  Pretending it doesn’t hurt just suppresses your feelings and well, that’s just not healthy.

The other way is the longer, harder way.  It’s the path I took and it wasn’t easy, but it helped me accept the situation.  I swung back and forth between emotions and thoughts.  I never thought there was anything wrong with who I was, but I felt different around them.  I suppose the thing I felt the most, and the strongest, was that I had one shot, I had one shot to tell my family about who I was and there was always this persistent feeling that I fell short in really explaining who I was.  I couldn’t go back and redo what I wanted to say.  I had to let it go.

Sometimes feelings would come unexpectedly.  I was at Target once and I saw a mom shopping with her transgender daughter.  Out of nowhere this feeling of sadness filled my heart realizing I would never have that.  I was down for the rest of the day and then I slowly let it go.

I have a friend who has sisters who absolutely love to go shopping with their new sister.  I’m happy for her, I am happy for them, but if I am being honest, I am also jealous.  I need to let it go.

Sometimes I am angry.  Or frustrated.  But that’s not really fair.  It’s not easy to understand who we are.  Who we are makes people uncomfortable.  I wish it weren’t the case, but that’s reality.  It shouldn’t be this way, but you can’t make someone understand you.  You can’t make someone accept you.  You can’t make your family love her.  You have to feel whatever you feel, and then you need to let it go.

I have always said that all of …this, is something you learn by doing.  Want to learn how to do your makeup?  Go buy eyeliner and practice.  Want to be able to walk in heels?  Buy a pair of pumps and walk around your house.  Make mistakes, learn from them, and try again.  Coming out is no different.  I learned from this experience.  I learned that although there is no right way to come out, you need to be careful, clear, and direct with who you are.

And be gentle.  This isn’t easy for them.

If there’s anything to be learned here is that how you come out matters, and that families can be challenging.  Every family is different.  Every t-girl is different.  How Hannah fits (or doesn’t fit) into my family’s life is likely different than how you might fit (or might not) into your family’s life.   We all want to be loved, accepted, and understood.  But no one owes us these things.  For many of us, this side of us creates tension, conflict, frustration, and sadness.  For many of us we turn to the people in our lives for love and support and understanding.  Unfortunately, we don’t always receive what we were hoping for.

Let it go.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Hannah’s Wife

Last month my wife offered to answer some questions from t-girls and partners about her experiences, thoughts, and feelings about her relationship with a girl like us.  She read every comment, email, and question and I am happy to share with you her responses.

Being who we are is not easy, and it’s even harder on our partners.  I hope this helps and offers support to anyone who reads this.

-How have you handled seeing your man put on a wig, dress, makeup, and be Hannah?

Pretty well, I think. 😉
I think realizing that this wasn’t a fetish or kink, nor did it mean my husband was gay, helped. That may seem crazy to you, but I can almost guarantee this is a thought in most wives or partners mind at first. After really trying to understand this, I think adding a wig, and makeup made it better as she wasn’t my husband in a dress, she was more.

Seeing the desire to look put together and like a lady made it easier than just him wanting to wear lingerie. I’m actually quite impressed and proud of her style and want for her style to be classy and not tacky or ill-fitting and age appropriate. This also helped me understand its not a sexual thing. Knowing he had just wanted to feel beautiful, I thought, well I guess we all do in one way or another.

-How have you handled seeing her become a model… both physically and as a role model for many t-girls like myself?
I’ll be honest, Hannah modeling clothes and also having the blog and photo shoots bothered me at first. I kept it to myself for a while. I felt like “Why can’t she just wear what she wants and look the way she wants and just meet some t-girl friends to go out with? Why does she have to be so out there? Why does she need to be so extreme in that world? Does this mean she’s happier that way? Does she want to transition but feels she can’t because of our life together? I feared for our privacy with posting so many pictures, etc. I was afraid she could be hurt by someone joining this community with bad intentions. I also feared she would get a big head about herself and like the attention and want to be her more and more and my husband less and less. The only thing that has changed my feelings on this is time, lots of talks, reassurance and honesty. This just doesn’t come to you instantly. Also, she lets me make the rules. That may sound like I’m being selfish or bitchy, but it allowed me to have a say. I had no say in who he or she were, but I had say in how Hannah was in my life. Although I was aware of some of this before we were married, Hannah didn’t exist then and if we wanted this to work for both of us, I needed a say in how this other person was going to be invited into my life and marriage . It made me feel like I mattered just as much as both of them did.
With that being said, I am glad she has started a community of like-minded people being out there and doing things we all do, instead of hitting up LGBTQ bars ALL the time. I’m glad that when she couldn’t find what she was looking for, she became it. How inspiring is that? And in the process she helped others be more accepting of themselves or their spouses or their partners minds being put at ease a bit. I’ve always been supportive of the whole community. I believe being out there, being respectful and kind will go a long way in the fight for equality. People need to know there is nothing to hide, that other people existing is of no threat to them. That you all are people, too. People who just want to go to a play or Target. Hannah does important work. If there is one thing that’s similar in Hannah and my husband it’s that they are both all in or not in at all.
-How have you evolved during this period? Were there times where you just wanted Hannah to “just go away and be my husband!” or have you always been accepting. Did it evolve from tolerance to acceptance to embracing… has it gone back and forth. between those. 
I have found a deeper connection with my husband. It didn’t feel that way at first, but it became the case for us.
Yes, there were plenty of times I wanted Hannah to go. I know that if I asked for that, it would happen. How could I live with this knowing I was the only thing holding him back from feeling fulfilled as a person? He would resent me, I would always wonder if he was sneaking it or secretly unhappy in our marriage. He would be unhappy. I love him. You may think Hannah is awesome, but you’ve never met my husband. He’s all I could ever want. His happiness and contentment are just as important as mine are. I had to find a place where I could meet him and her in the middle. We couldn’t both have what we wanted and I knew that in the grand scheme of things, he needed her to be part of his life. We’ve always been us against the world. This was no different. He needed to explore her and figure this out. He needed one person that would say I love you for who you are, no matter what. There was no way I wouldn’t be that person for him, and in return, her. I was not going to snuff out a very big and important part of the person I loved most. I also wasn’t going to do this without boundaries.  I would just need to keep doing my best to communicate and make sure I felt reassured that we were on the same page with where this was heading. I also needed to make sure he was being open and honest. So, yes. it has evolved over the years to where we are today. Yes, it’s gone back and forth. When it does, we talk. Some days, its hard. Most of the hard days are behind us, though. It took effort and I feel it was worth it. On the lighter side, some days it’s nice to have him truly understand how it feels when we just don’t feel pretty or are taking longer to get ready. He knows that if I’m in the closet changing a million times that when I come out, that I need a confidence booster and some gentle honesty. Its fun when he complements an outfit or my eye make up, because I know he really means it. There’s a level of intimacy and respect that I didn’t know was possible when we are raw and honest about who we really are.
-How do you feel about Hannah when she’s… um… Hannah? I’m not asking about sex (don’t worry), but what about other areas of affection? Do you still feel comfortable holding her hand, hugging her, kissing her, saying “I love you” to her? Was it instant, or was it something the two of you worked up to? 
This is tricky. I feel just fine saying I love you, etc. I don’t want to have pretend I’m someone else just because she is. Do I treat Hannah as my spouse? No. I see her more of a good friend. I feel loving and supportive, but don’t prefer to kiss her, etc. Not that I won’t, I know that although they are two, they are also one and I can see past that and see the person I love no matter what. In our situation, She is here and then he is. I married ‘he’ and that’s who I prefer. She doesn’t live in our everyday world. Its a hard thing to explain. At the end of the day, I love them and will cuddle and hold both of their hands. I’ve definitely learned that gender and sexuality are often and easily confused, but completely separate.
-How did you feel when Hannah “officially” identified as Transgender? I can remember following her from back in the day when she labeled herself as a crossdresser, and while that can be a shock, it’s definitely not as intense as transgender? How did you cope with it? 
At first, it was worrisome, what did this mean on a transition scale? Eventually, knowing there would not be a full transition,  I honestly didn’t care. I didn’t know what “label” did describe her and to be honest, why have a label? This isn’t my experience, who am I to say who she was or was not? We are all just people. Everything we think about clothes and gender are all just societal norms. It’s weird to say my spouse is trans at first, but honestly, it’s all meshed together. I don’t really think about it anymore. I wouldn’t prefer the term crossdresser over trans. It just is what it is.
-What would you say to the wives of us t-girls? What advice would you give? What kind of support system do you have in place for all of this? How have you been able to cope with it? How can I be more supportive to my wife through this period? How can I remind her that, even dressed up, I am still her husband and will always be there for her? It’s not just about making her okay with this, or getting her to view this the way you do, but genuinely loving on her and supporting her through this time. 
I would tell her its ok to not be ok with this right now and mean it. I would tell her everything she is feeling or fearing is normal and valid. Tell her that her feelings count. Ease in. Don’t tell her and then come out and show her your other side, dressed to the nines. It’s too much to take in all at once. Answer her questions the best you can and honestly. When she asks them again, answer them kindly and honestly again. She needs reassurance.
Respect her boundaries. If she doesn’t want you at the local mall or gas station near your house while en femme, for fear of you running into someone you guys know, respect it. Tell her you respect it and don’t break that promise. Be patient. Don’t expect her to want to hit the mall and movies with you right away or possibly ever. Don’t make her feel that she isn’t supportive if she doesn’t want to get mani and pedis and have girls day. She may be willing to let you explore that, but at the same time doesn’t want to be chummy and pretend it’s a girls day if she feels like she is with her husband. Remember, you two together, out, says something about who she is, too. She may not even know what that means yet. Will people think you’re friends? Probably not, but maybe. Will people think she is a lesbian or into trans women, probably. She may not know what this means for who she is when she’s with you en femme. She doesn’t need to fulfill that fantasy of being one of the girls for you. If she wants to, awesome! If she doesn’t, no sweat! Hell, she may not want to hit the mall or do pedis with her cisgender girl friends, either. I think men tend to think grown women are having pillow fights in our nighties, talking makeup and doing our nails. We’re not. Promise. We pretty much want the pedi, a glass of wine or tea, and quiet time by ourselves. Don’t rush her to be ok with it. Just let her slowly wade through the water and get there comfortably and gradually. She shouldn’t have to dive right in to it all or nothing. You have probably been thinking about all of this for years. Trying to understand yourself, purging, embracing back and forth. Many times trans girls will come to a point where they have done all the back and forth for years and found yourselves and just HAVE to tell her. She deserves time to process, understand, hate, love, and understand again, too.
In the beginning, I just wanted my husband. I wanted to see my husband the way I did before all of this. I missed his old body holding and hugging me, it made me feel so safe. I felt smaller and more feminine and more beautiful before. I missed being the only feminine one. I couldn’t quite as easily find the masculine traits I used to see. I missed cuddling up to his huggable, comforting chest and having his strong, still hairy arms wrapped around me. When he lost more weight and had shaved legs and arms, I felt as though he could just duplicate what I was bringing to the table and felt less of an asset. I watched what she wore and her style and wondered is this what he wishes I wore? I’m fashionable, but also way more casual than her. I wear make up every day, but heels are rare for me.  I’m a flip flops, flats and tall boot kind of girl. Did I not turn him on, now that I know what he liked in a woman’s style and its very different than mine? I felt I had to compete and I didn’t know how to explain why. It felt weird to be cleaned face, hair in a messy bun and in my pajama pants with a glass of wine, while chatting with Hannah in makeup, heels and dressed to the nines. I felt a little self-conscious or sloppy.  I was frustrated because I felt like there was another woman in our marriage. It’s like hanging out in your comfy clothes and another person comes over dressed to go out and you feel inadequate. I know that sounds crazy, but we cant always explain why we feel the things we do. I’m sure you can attest to that. 😉
My husband is handsome no matter what, honestly, he’s good looking, but becoming Hannah also changed my husband on a physical level, and so all the changes made him less ‘him’ and more both of them combined. It spilled over. I had a hard time with that, I wanted that hard line drawn at first. I wanted my big strong teddy bear when he was him and then I’d let her be her when she needed to be her. It didn’t always end up that way. I found myself annoyed when people would ask about his weight loss. They would worry if he was healthy. Most guys work out, lose weight, and then bulk up, therefore it’s less of a shock and more of a “woah you’re getting in shape.”  How can you say “He’s fine, he just wants to fit into cuter dresses and not look bulked up?!”? It was stressful. People worried that he was ill. I was tired of explaining he was fine.
I didn’t want to carry around this secret but I also didn’t want confide in anyone. I was afraid I would regret it and they would also view me and our relationship differently. Now, I’m glad I didn’t. I’m at peace with it and feel only I can understand this all the way I would want them to. If there won’t be a full transition, Then, I couldn’t expect others to understand. Over time, It really has just evolved much like you said, tolerance,
acceptance, embracing. I feel very accepting and loving of Hannah. I think embracing is a strong word. I’m not excited about it, but I am ok with it and it no longer makes me upset. I am happy for her and now that I know where this starts and ends, it’s much easier. I’ve gotten over the hardest part and am so glad that he and she feel fulfilled.
Again, honesty, time and reassurance were key. There are things that I have learned about myself and ways I’ve grown as a person, friend, ally, and wife. I am appreciative of her for that. Also as Hannah has written, be worth it. This is a difficult thing for your wives or partners to wrap their head around and come around to. If you are committed to wanting to stay together and helping her understand you and feel some ease through this period of transition in your relationship, you must help foster that. There are a million things going through our heads. Showing us that you’re not stuck in the fog, she’s not losing you and being sure to help her around the house and with daily things, remembering things she’s told you, asking her what she needs and giving that to her, letting her know you’re thinking of her and that you’re attracted to her means a lot. Keeping your word, going above and beyond to take things off her plate will help her appreciate you and leave her with more gratitude and feeling appreciated. Thus allowing more understanding and grace in other areas. You may say “She’s not losing me, I’m the same person”. No. You’re not. Once this is out, you are different in her eyes. It never goes back. Show her that its not a bad thing. Show her she’s not crazy when she says you’re different. You may feel the same inside, but, you’re not the same in her eyes. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but don’t deny that or make her feel as though she is not accepting just because she sees you differently. Put yourself in her shoes. What if she wanted to present as a man? Wearing “men’s clothing”, not shaving her legs, not waxing her upper lip or brows, hiding her soft curves, walking different, talking different. You may be accepting and still able to find her in there, but you won’t see her exactly the same either. Put yourself in her shoes, be empathetic, be patient. It’s all you can do. The rest will follow.

When you are dressed as Hannah, does your wife see you as a man in a dress or does she treat you like a woman?

 

When Hannah is presenting as herself, I just see “Hannah”, but not at first. It took some getting used to, some patience and effort to understand something that even he or she could understand. I guess it took a cautious trust on my part that my husband was being honest with his intentions as he explored her and who Hannah was, and what it meant for my husband to be part Hannah. For her, it took some experimenting with looks, hair, mannerisms and personal style for me to see her as someone separate from my husband. Slowly, Hannah became a whole other person. Someone very different than my husband. She was like a well dressed visitor (over dressed compared to me in my messy bun and leggings ha ha) but a visitor who I enjoyed chatting with. Its hard to describe, as some lines are blurry. Hannah brings out a more chatty and light-hearted side that I don’t normally get to see quite as much and as much, as she is like another person, Its still like talking to my husband, as we talk about family and friends and all the usual things we would while in male mode. I think as Hannah, the every day stress and to-do lists seem further away and this allows for that more relaxed free flowing conversation and presence.
When she comes in after a night out with you ladies, she is Hannah. When she’s dressed around me and hanging out, she’s not one thing. She knows my heart like my husband but is more chatty like my girlfriends. It’s not always easy and seamless, but I do appreciate Hannah and her affect on my husband. Mostly, I just love my husband very much and know its never in his heart to hurt me and I would never want him to suppress such a major part of who he is.
Does she treat you like a woman?
Hmmm, I don’t know how to answer this one. I guess I would say I treat her like a friend, a sister, someone close. I don’t treat my guy or girl friends like guys and girls, I just treat them like people, like friends. If you’re asking if I’m likely to ask Hannah to fix the toilet or save those things for my husband, I don’t do either. I fix it myself. 😉 I will ask Hannah and my husband to get things down for me, though. There’s more than a foot difference between us even without all of her fabulous heels. Don’t get me started on those! haha

Does she use proper pronouns?
I address Hannah as Hannah and use the proper pronouns. With that said everyone slips up from time to time and there has to be room for mistakes as we stumble through these things. I call Hannah by Hannah and my husband by babe or babes. Sometimes I’ll call Hannah Babe. No biggie. I know that Hannah and my husband are two very different people, but the same soul to me.

Do you see each other as lesbians while you are dressed?
No. I see Hannah as her own person separate from my husband. Her being who she is doesn’t change who I am. While I find Hannah very beautiful, I’m not attracted to her. I am attracted to men. I can always appreciate a beautiful person. If Hannah needed me to be sexually attracted to both her and my husband, that wouldn’t be fair, as this whole part of our lives is allowing us to be who we truly are and would put pressure on me to change who I am for her. I’m happy with my husband. 😉

Love, Hannah

#girlslikeus

There is a hashtag that a girl like us uses on social media.  The tag, conveniently enough, is #girlslikeus.   This tag is used to bring attention to our community for the purpose of relatable problems, whether it’s trivial such as getting frustrated that Target doesn’t normally carry heels in sizes larger that an 11, or more serious issues like our president slowly and methodically stripping our rights away from us.  It’s a tag that is used for personal pride, like when you take an amazing selfie, accomplishing something amazing (like finding heels at Target that fit) or just a way for our community to connect with each other.

It’s important that we have support, and it’s important that we have each other’s backs.  It’s very challenging to understand who we are, not only to others but also to ourselves.  But we don’t have to explain who we are to girls like us.  Sure, being trans might mean something different to each of us and we all have similar journeys but we might have different destinations.  I’m done.  I’m at the end of my journey.  I went from underdressing to where I am today.  I am no longer discovering who I am.  I have found myself, I have accepted myself, I have created myself.

But you might still be on your journey.  Maybe you just accepted yourself.  Maybe you just left the house for the first time.  Maybe you just told your wife.  Maybe you just started hormones.  Maybe you just received your updated birth certificate.  Our journeys start and stop.  We might rest for years between next steps.  We may want different thngs at different points of our lives.  There are no timelines to any of this.  You are never too old to start anything.  It’s not too late.  Besides wearing opaque stockings with open toe heels, there’s no wrong way to be transgender.

The point I am trying to make is that t-girls get it.  We may not understand ourselves, but we understand each other.  I don’t really know why I like to dress, but I know why you do.  We all remember the thrill of when we first tried on heels or panties or lipstick.  We remember how less alone we felt when we learned the word ‘transgender’.  There are others like us!  So many like us that there is a word for us!  We all can relate to the tension between us and the cashier as they rang up a dress when we first started to build a wardrobe.  We all have had the same conversations with our partners when we came out.

At some point in our journey (and for the record I want to say that I hate that word but it’s probably the most fitting and relatable), we find that we want support.  We want to talk to someone.  We may have spent decades in our heads wrestling with this side of us and we need to sort it out.  Or shout it out.  Or cry about it, whether it is because we are scared about this means, or cry from relief that we have accepted this part of us, or tears of joy.

It’s hard for someone else to understand who and why we are.  They may want to support us but they will likely have questions.  It’s important that we are patient and honest with the people in our lives that we come out to.  Being patient is hard, though.  I think one of the reasons I am not out to more people is because it takes a lot of energy to do that.  I know what questions they’ll ask, I know there will be a conversation about how my wife reacted and what she thinks, and discussing what being trans means to me.

Just typing that part exhausted me.

I don’t feel I need support from anyone in my life that I haven’t already come out to.  Yes, sometimes I would like to be out to more people but I don’t feel a burning or desperate yearning to do so.  The truth is I never really felt that I needed support from many people.  I wanted acceptance and, more than anything, friendship.  I wanted Hannah to have someone to shop with or talk to.  Not only is my wife the love of my life, she is also my best friend…in both of my genders.

I think it’s important for a t-girl to have other t-girls for friends.  Not only to have someone to hit the mall with, but it’s important to have someone who absolutely gets it.  I never have asked another t-girl why they are who they are.  It’s none of my business anyway.  I’ve never been asked that either.  We don’t need to have that conversation.  We already know what we would say.

I talk to a lot of t-girls on different points in their journey (ugh, that word).  It’s exciting when we first come out because accepting yourself is one of the hardest and most wonderful things you can do.  It’s also the time when we will make the most mistakes.  These mistakes can be bigger than wearing opaque stockings with open toe heels.  We will often get lost in the pink fog and make bad decisions.

One of the biggest mistakes we make is overwhelming our partners.  Most of us want our partners to know about us, we want their support, and we want them to…well, participate.  What participation means is different for all of us.  Some of us want our wives to teach us how to do makeup, pick out a wig, hit the town, or have a girls nights in.  I see too many of us tell our partners about this, and then the next day we tell them we want to go out en femme and the day after that we ask them to come with us.  It’s easy to understand why our partners are wondering what’s next or where all this is going. Being who we are can be lonely.  We want friends.  We want to know girls like us.  We feel we are the only ones like us.  We have no one to talk to about this.  On that note, our partners often feel that way, too.

When we come out we are opening up and discussing feelings and experiences we have been silent on for years.  We are so ready for what’s next.  But our partners aren’t.  They are processing what we just told them and they need time to sort it out.  Understanding this part of us is not simple.  We don’t understand ourselves and we have had our entire lifetime to figure it out.  Our partners need more than a couple hours, or a weekend, or a decade to let it sink in.

The most important thing we can, and should do is be open and transparent with ourselves and our partners.  It’s also important for girls like us to be friends with girls like us so we have others to talk to about this.  Again, we should avoid overwhelming our partner and it’s easy to do so if they are the only person we talk to about this.

So, how do we do make friends?

I don’t need to tell you about this new thing called the world wide web.  It’s a wonderful way to connect with others.  Of course, if your partner has requested that this side of you doesn’t have social media accounts, you had best respect that boundary.  It drives me crazy when t-girls tell me they have a Facebook profile that their wife doesn’t know about.  Don’t do this.  Seriously.

You can create profiles and chat online at places like crossdressers.com, The Gender Society and urnotaone.com.  Even just chatting and posting on the forums can give you support and friendship.  I spent a lot of time online in the early days and found it helpful to read about others like me and I gained a lot of information about everything from beard cover and color correcting to understanding what our partners are feeling.

I met girls online that I later met in real life.  In fact, one of the first times I went out was to meet up with someone I met online.  I hope I don’t need to explain why you shouldn’t meet someone at a hotel room or at their house.  If you are meeting someone you know from the internet, meet in a public place.

When I was ready to make friends, I started attending a local support group.  There are a few in Minneapolis and I went to two different ones off and on for a few months.  One of those groups was PFLAG and I am willing to bet you can find a PFLAG support group near you.  Going to the groups was wonderful.  If anything, they help me get used to going out en femme.  I built confidence and it soon became second nature to get in and out of a car wearing a skirt, walking in heels outside, and interacting with people as Hannah.

After a few months, I started to feel that the groups weren’t right for me anymore.  All t-girls are different and are at different points in their lives.  Some had just started hormones, some were there with their wives as they were both struggling and coming to terms with this, some just had gender affirmation surgery and just hit the reset button on life.  I wasn’t conflicted about who I was, I didn’t want to live full-time and I wasn’t about to transition.  I was no longer looking for support, it was time to make friends.

I talked to my wife one night after a meeting.  I felt ready to start going out to other places besides the support groups.  I was ready to move from seeking support to finding a social circle.  A group to shop with, go out to dinner with, and just do…stuff.  Places to go that weren’t built around gender identity.  I didn’t want to just frequent gay bars or drag shows, I wanted to go to the mall and Starbucks.

So, my wife suggested I start a group like that.  And I did.  As of this writing, the MN T-Girls has existed for almost six years.  It started small like most things do, but the group now has hundreds of members from all over the state, the midwest, even girls from outside of the area who travel to the Twin Cities on a regular basis.

The first step in creating the group was to decide what kind of group we would be.  This was kind of like writing a mission statement.  I remembered the first time I went out and how scared I was.  I could think of nothing but the sad and horrific and terrifying stories of girls like me getting harassed, attacked, or worse.  These instances understandably stop many of us from leaving our living rooms.  So, safety in numbers became the driving force behind the group.  Not only safety from those who may hurt us, but the security we give each other when we know we are not the only ones like us.

The second goal of the group was to create a social circle for those like myself.  Most of the members of the group are secure in who they are.  Most know where they are in their journey.  Most members of the group live comfortably with their gender identities and go back and forth between them.  In 80% of their lives they are husbands and fathers but every other Saturday they strut out of their closet looking fabulous.  Most of us are out to our partners.

Sure, support for each other is a given.  It’s not uncommon for members to talk about something they, or their partner, is struggling with.  Our shared experiences help each other and offer a perspective we may not have had before.  So, I guess I created a support group after all.  But I like to think the group offers a social part that many of us need.  The group meets once a month and we have different adventures.  Sometimes it’s the group going out to dinner, or attending a play, visiting a museum, annual holiday parties, or going to a pride festival.  We’ve had a lot of private shopping events where businesses will host our group after hours which gives us an opportunity to shop for everything from lingerie to shoes to clothes to accessories.  Our most popular and requested events are the private makeup lessons that I organize at least once a year.

Our first event was meeting for coffee at a cafe owned by a transwoman.  There were about five of us there.  Today the group has close to 300 members.  Growing the membership was one of the hardest parts of starting the group.  I had been blogging for a couple years at this point so I had a little following.  I was active on forums and had attended local support groups and knew a few girls like me.  I wrote about the group on my site, I told others about it at the support groups I attended and soon word spread.  After a few months of, well, recruiting I guess, we had our first meet up.

The group was formed for girls like us to find and make friends with others like us.   I wanted to meet other girls like me, I wanted to shop with girls like me.  There wasn’t a local group that offered that, so I created one.  I’m glad I have the group and thankful for the friends I met because of it.  I get emails from t-girls from all over the country looking for a group like this.  I encourage them to start one.  It takes dedication, consistency, and probably a kind of madness to do something like this, but it can be done.

I keep the group going because I know how important it is for me to have friends who are like me.  It’s important to every girl like us.  I wholly believe the group is a form of activism in a way.  We are showing the world that girls like us go out to dinner, shop, and do whatever everyone does because #girlslikeus are just like everyone else.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Hannah’s…Wife

We know what it is like to be us.  We know how complex, stressful, conflicting, and wonderful it is to be who we are.  Sharing this side of us is not easy and I do my best to write about what our partners may be feeling, thinking, or worried about when it comes to being in a relationship with someone like us.

Most of the questions I get are about making this work within a relationship.  Much of what I write about is about being considerate of what our partners may be experiencing.  The truth is that every relationship is different and there is not a roadmap as to how to make this work for every couple.

Talking to other t-girls and their partners gives me a lot of perspective on how this side of us affects their relationship.  How this works, how it doesn’t, and what someone is feeling.  There are many things that these relationships have in common but there are also elements that are as unique as every relationship.

My wife and I talked a lot in the early days.  I learned a lot then, and now years later I am still learning and listening.  Some things she felt then but couldn’t voice them at the time.  One thing that was always there was a feeling of loneliness when I came out to her.  Who could she talk to?  Who could she confide in?  Who would understand?

Many of our partners felt, and feel, this way.  The internet wasn’t helpful and in many ways added to her fears.  There are resources for those who have partners who are transitioning, but not many resources for those who are married to people like me… and probably you.

Seeing this lack of resources, my wife has offered to answer some questions.  My wife is many things, but it’s her gentleness, honesty, and realistic perspective that I feel are among her strongest traits.

If you are transgender, and especially if you are the partner of someone like me, please add your questions to the comments before.  You can post anonymously or you can email me at hannahgotta(at)gmail.com.

I assure you confidentially if you send an email.  Names and email addresses will not be posted.

I can’t promise every question will be answered, but every one will be read by her.  Questions will be taken for about a week and her responses will be posted at a later date.

Love, Hannah

 

Ask Hannah!

I’m curious if you’ve ever felt any hostility from the trans community regarding your definition of transgender? I mentioned on a Reddit post that I consider myself transgender even though I’m ultimately just a guy who likes to dress up every now and then, and I received a large amount of hostility and even some relatively harsh replies. I think I deserved some of it (saying I’m just a man who likes to dress up can definitely act to group others on the more “transition” side of things as an attempt of grouping them with me), but I was shocked at some of the comments (such as “no… you’re a crossdresser, and that’s it. Don’t use our term!”)

I’m just curious if you’ve ever had any similar responses, or what your view on the whole thing is.

This is a pretty familiar conversation our community has.  I have a friend who has a little joke about this:

What’s the difference between crossdressing and transgender?
Six months.

This is also a pretty common question we all ask ourselves.  Many of us start by identifying as a crossdresser and many of us will transition (no pun intended) to identifying as transgender.

I think some people feel that if it’s all about, and only about, the clothes, then it’s just crossdressing.  But once feelings and gender identity are factored in, then it crosses into trans territory.  Others say it takes hormones to strut into trans-land.

It’s not easy to explain who we are.  Usually we stumble through coming out and get frustrated because it’s hard to really pinpoint the reasons we are who we are.  It’s even harder for someone else to understand.

It may be hard but if we want others to understand us then we have to do the best we can to communicate with them.  Of course, you are under no obligation to explain to anyone (besides your significant other) who and why you are who you are, but if you do, then you need to take the time to do some soul-searching and kind of sort yourself out.  To this day my mom thinks I am a crossdresser as opposed to being trans.  Why?  Because that is how I can out.  I came out to her about five years ago and I didn’t quite do it correctly.  I told her it was about clothes, about dressing up, and that I didn’t know why I did it.  It is what it is.  Perhaps I downplayed it in an effort to spare her feelings or calm her worry?

But pulling these punches did me no favors.  Were I to come out today to her, or to anyone else, the conversation would be more about my perspective on identity and not feeling restrained by societal and gender norms and how I don’t know why I am who I am and that I don’t really care about figuring it out.  Just like I don’t lie awake wondering why I like coffee I don’t lose sleep over why I heart mascara.

The sticking point is that there are many perspectives and opinions on these terms and there’s no universally agreed upon definition.  I suppose it would be fair to say that these terms are open to interpretation and your definition is likely different than someone else’s.

What this thinking falls under is that there is no right or wrong way to be trans.  Just like there is no standard or expectation you must meet to be able to identify as a girl, you do not have check off certain boxes to be able to identify as transgender.  You do not have to wear a size 8 in heels to be a girl, you do not have to transition or live full-time to be transgender.

Just like you can’t let anyone tell you that you are or are not the gender you identify as, you can’t let others tell you if you are transgender or not.  If you say you are, you are.  Personally I would say you are transgender but my opinion means nothing.  It’s all about what you identify as.  I think the transgender term can, and does cover more specific ways to identify.  Some identify as gender-queer, agender and non-binary.  I think I identify as a bi-gender.  Crossdressing, drag, all of these terms fall under transgender.

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If you haven’t done so already, I recommend reading Mia Violet’s book ‘You Are Trans Enough’ which talks about this better than I could.  I have never experienced any push back from our community about my definition.   In many ways my definition is my perspective and my opinion.  Were I to be challenged on it I wouldn’t fight to the death trying to convince someone else of my definition.  I would impress upon them that this is my opinion and no one has to agree with it.

I hope this helps!

Love, Hannah

 

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