Ask Hannah!

I am having a hard time finding people, male or female, that accept my enjoyment of wearing female attire. My roommate is gay and does not accept it, nor have any of my past gay friends. Yes, I would like to explore gay sex but the guys I have met have been too aggressive sexually. I know that I am border line on everything but you must have come across boys like me that want more and can’t find the right folks to learn, explore, and grow with. I am open to all and any advice

Although we don’t need approval to be… anything or anyone we are, acceptance is pretty necessary.  Or, at the very least, we would like to not be shunned or judged based on who we are.  Even though it is almost impossible to predict how someone will respond when we come out to them, typically (and this is being VERY generalizing) the reaction falls into one of there three scenarios:


-Thank you for being honest with me!  I encourage you to be true to yourself and dress how you want

-I may not understand this part of you, but it doesn’t change how I feel or think about you

-This side of you is weird and confusing and feels wrong and strange to me.  My opinion of you has changed significantly 


Again, these are very broad and certainly don’t cover every possible outcome, but I think for the purpose of this question these sum it up rather succinctly.


Part of accepting ourselves as a crossdresser also comes with the understanding that this side of us, this preference and enjoyment of wearing lingerie or heels or countless other beautiful things, can’t REALLY be explained or understood.  And trying to understand it is really unnecessary and impossible.  It can’t be expressed in a satisfactory way.  If we try to, the person we come out to usually just responds with wanting to know more.  Sometimes there ISN’T more to be said.

I like to wear dresses.

–But WHY?

They’re comfortable and make me feel good

–But WHY?

Pretty soon we get to the point where there’s nothing more that can really be said.  The WHYs, for the most part, are really asking “but you’re a BOY, how can you resolve that you are a boy that wears girl clothes?”.  I don’t know, I just wear what I want.  Again, a highly unsatisfactory and not very helpful response.  Lady Gaga nailed it, we are just born this way.  

Of course, I don’t need to explain this to a t-girl or a crossdresser, or anyone non-binary.   What I’m trying to do is explain how someone who is cis gender may process this side of us.

Anyway!  Back to your question.  Yes, it is hard to find others that will accept this side of you.  Most people have the need to understand… ANYTHING before they can accept it.  And, like I said earlier, this side of us can’t REALLY be understood.  I’ve been wearing “girl clothes” for decades and I’ll continue to do so and I will never understand WHY (beyond me just… WANTING to).  I’ve come out to three romantic partners in my life.  One hated it, one loved that I was open and honest with her as well as with myself, and of course, the third married me.  I’ve come out to a few friends and my siblings and each reaction has been varied and has fallen anywhere between “that’s awesome!” and “please never discuss this with me ever again”.  It stings but it is what it is.  You can’t MAKE someone accept who you are.  At the most, you can just hope they come around.  

Although you would (logically) assume that someone in the LGBTQ+ community would accept someone else who is also LGBTQ+, it’s not always so, and truthfully, it’s not really an equivalent.  Gender identity and sexual identity are pretty separate as far as I feel.  Wearing stilettos and makeup doesn’t change who I am attracted to.  My brother is gay and, like my cis gender sisters, doesn’t really get why I have a closet full of dresses, but they still love and accept who I am.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that they want to get a coffee with Hannah, but they know who I am.  

As for being curious about sex with men (or with anyone else), I am afraid I can’t be much help when it comes to that. 

It’s natural and normal for a crossdresser to want to share this side of us.  But what does that mean to you?  I knew what it meant to me when I came out to my wife.  I dreamed of getting dressed and going to the mall with her.  Although that hasn’t happened we’ve had countless girls nights in and it’s been absolutely magical.  You mention wanting to learn.  Are you looking for another crossdresser to teach you how to walk in heels or select the right clothes and sizes?  Are you looking for someone to teach you makeup?  If so, you may need to broaden your search a bit.  I learned how to do makeup thanks to three different teachers:


-My wife.  She showed me the differences between highlighters and bronzers and concealers.  She taught me the basics and broadened my horizons when it comes to makeup beyond just eyeliner and lipstick.  She showed me how to apply foundation and the basics

-Other crossdressers.  I read a lot of websites and forum comments and watched makeup tutorials about having more traditional masculine facial features and how to wear makeup and what products to purchase.  I learned a lot of techniques, such as beard covering, this way

-Finally, a professional makeup artist.  I booked a private makeup lesson and learned how to contour and minimize and enhance different aspects of MY face.  Every face is different and techniques that work for some faces won’t work for others.

You may, of course, also need to alter your expectations.  Many of us want to find an amazing person to have a fulfilling and incredible life with.  BUT you add in crossdressing to that relationship (or really, ANY relationship) it’s going to complicate things.  Coming out to someone you are romantically linked with will FOREVER alter your relationship. 

Before I came out to my wife (my girlfriend at the time) we had a good relationship.  Skipping ahead all those years later, we still have a good relationship but coming out to her has not always been easy but through communication and patience we adapted.

Before my wife I dated a girl who was 100000% accepting of what I wore, but goodness that relationship was not healthy for either of us.  When we ended it, part of me wondered if I would ever find someone who accepted my crossdressing the way she did, but staying in an unhealthy relationship BECAUSE they accepted my wardrobe choices was not a good idea.

In my opinion, if you want a relationship and you want crossdressing to be a part of it, you need to start with finding the right person, and then coming out to them.  Work on developing that friendship, that trust, that honesty.  Of course, you need to come out to them while you are in the early stages of dating, especially if them accepting your crossdressing is essential when it comes to a committed relationship.   

There are places online one can go to when it comes to finding other crossdressers.  I would recommend joining crossdressers.com or urnotalone.com.  Although I am rarely on these sites anymore, I have made friends through them.  Go to the site, create an account, and look in the forums and discussion posts for others in your area.  

To summarize, you can’t MAKE anyone accept your crossdressing.  I never made my wife accept it, but after some time passed she grew to understand that this side of me was, well, a part of me that wasn’t going to go away.  As two people create a life together they soon learn there are aspects of the other’s life that they may not understand or even like, but through honesty and communication they may come to accept the other person’s habits and personality and even clothing preferences.  

I really hope this rambling and almost aimless response helps, lol.

Love, Hannah

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

Mom Hugs

Pride Festivals are wonderful things, especially when you want to see just how much support, how many allies we have.  Of course, it’s not possible to know for sure who is and who isn’t a member of the LGBTQ+ community (at Pride or anywhere) but sometimes an ally is easy to spot.  The moms who come to Pride with t-shirts that say “Free Mom Hugs”?  Probably an ally (but again, impossible to know for certain that mom isn’t LGBTQ+).  Same with those wearing “Free Dad/Free Sister Hugs” shirts, too.  


I am…well, fascinated (jealous?) of moms like that.  I think almost all of us have complicated relationships with our parents, but perhaps I am just projecting.  I wasn’t the favorite child growing up and that dynamic has more or less lived on decades later.  I think things are…thawing between my mom and I and for the most part we have a good, healthy relationship, as long as, you know, THIS side of me isn’t brought up.  I’ve come out to her, both on purpose and, well, by accident and despite my efforts it’s been made pretty clear Hannah isn’t really someone my mom wants to know.


And that’s… okay.  I have made peace with it.  Not everyone is going to love you (or your femme self).  I wish things were different but again, I’ve made peace with it, although I have to admit I’ve had a couple “Mom Hugs” at Pride.


But I digress.


Like most things I think about, this little post is about clothes.  But this time it’s not about bodycon dresses or sky-high stilettos, it’s about a simple shirt.  A shirt that reads “I Love My Trans Kid”.  It’s not an uncommon shirt to see at Pride and I saw many moms (and dads) wearing it at last week’s Pride Festival.  Usually the parent was with a kid who was, well, a kid.  Think teenager or younger.  The age isn’t a surprise.  I’ve known and accepted this side of me at a young age.  I absolutely knew I was transgender (although I didn’t know the word) by the time I was in second grade.  Probably even earlier.  It’s like knowing you’re right-handed.  You just know.  You just… are.


The world is a different place than it was when I was discovering who I am all those years ago.  We didn’t have words in the common vernacular like “non-binary” or “gender fluid”.  We had “transvestite” and “crossdresser”.  Words that are a little outdated or not quite expansive enough (at least for me).  We also had “sissy”.  God, if I were to have come out when I was eight I would have been called a sissy or worse.  And I probably would have been called that by my dad.


Damn, a lot of baggage here, lol.


Being who we are isn’t easy.  I mean, it kind of is, it should be easier, but the world (for the most part) doesn’t make it very easy, does it?  It’s disheartening sometimes to be comfortable and to embrace who we are when we see laws being passed against the LGBTQ+ community or hear a co-worker say something nasty about transpeople.  But one thing I can’t experience is what it must be like to be a parent of a kid who is non-binary or gender non-conforming.  I mean, in principal it might be easy if you just let your kid dress how they feel and let them wear what they want.  Of course that’s probably easier said that done.  Letting your son wear a dress is one thing, dealing with the toxicity from the rest of the family or the rest of the world is another.  


Parents have to be advocates for their kids, no matter what they need.  It might be for medical reasons, or getting your child a tutor, or being their biggest defender and ally for their trans kid.  I don’t know if a parent can really prepare to, well, be a parent.  I suppose you could read every parenting book in the world but when it comes to the real thing, well, it’s the difference between reading a book on how to drive compared to actually being behind the wheel.  A parent should accept their kid and their identity.  A parent probably can’t prepare for that conversation aside from resolving to accept and love their child if they do come out.  You can’t love your kid conditionally, you can’t decide to love your kid on the condition that they are straight and/or cis.  


And at Pride you see that unconditional love.  It’s written on their face, it’s written on their clothes.  “I Love My Trans Kid”.  It doesn’t get more supportive than that.  


Don’t get me wrong, my mom is a wonderful, kind, supportive person.  But she grew up in a different era.  Her kids grew up in a different era.  I like to think that if I came out to her when I was younger in today’s world that she’d be wearing a shirt like that, too.  I am also positive if any of her grandchildren came out she’d be the supportive grandma.  


I don’t know if this website is read by any parents of trans kids but I want to thank you for being your child’s cheerleader, advocate, ally, and voice.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have come out to my own mother (at any age) and to have the support and love that I saw at Pride.  I don’t think my (ugh) journey would have led me to a different place than I am today if I had come to my mom when I was in my teens.  I love both of my gender identities today, and when I was growing up I didn’t hate or felt uncomfortable being a boy.  I just wanted to be a girl sometimes.  I didn’t grow out of who I was.  I couldn’t.  I don’t want to.


There’s no replacing a mom, no matter what you’re going through.  I mean, who loves you more than your mom?  No one.  No one is “supposed to”.  And yes, I know that not all of us have the support and love we need from our parents, regardless of one’s gender identity.  I know I have my mom’s love and support and friendship.  I don’t have any grudge against my mom because of her… uncomfortableness with Hannah.  I know that coming out changes a relationship, it impacts the dynamic.  You may be a fierce advocate of the LGBTQ+ community but, let’s face it, it’s a LITTLE different when your own child comes out.  It’s not easy to accept sometimes, it’s not an easy conversation to have.  Sometimes you just need to pretend you never came out.  I mean, that’s kind of what my mom and I do.  Again, don’t misunderstand me, I love my mom and I know as her son I have her love and support.  


And that’s enough.  It has to be.  


Love, Hannah

Neckties and Necklaces

Mother’s Day was just a few days ago and judging by the greeting card companies, mothers equal flowers.  Almost every card I looked at had flowers on it.  And that’s fine, some moms like flowers.  My mom does.  I suppose it’s hard to summarize exactly what a mom is and what a mom does.  My dad was always an alcoholic and lost his job when I was in high school.  He never found another one.

He eventually left our home when I was 18 and I think I’ve seen him twice since then.  It’s better this way.  I suspect he’s still alive but I really am not sure. My point is that my mom raised me and my siblings pretty much on her own.  Not only did she do all the things two parents typically share the responsibilities in, she also had to do all of that under the threat of an abusive spouse.  It wasn’t easy living in our family for a long time. 


As I get older I realize how hard life was for my mom, especially under those circumstances.  She was, and still is, very strong.  Despite how complex my relationship is with her (in both of my genders) I have nothing but love and respect for her.  Knowing all this, and after experiencing everything she went through, a card and a bouquet of flowers doesn’t seem sufficient for everything she is, and for everything she did.  As we move from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day I have similar thoughts when it comes to how men are portrayed and thought of.  The greeting cards are already out and judging by what is on them, you’d think that fathers love nothing except grilling, fishing, and beer.  And that’s fine, people can like those things.  Father’s Day, as you can imagine, was a complicated day for me and my siblings.  How (and why) would you “celebrate” such an abusive person?  There’s not a greeting card for that.  Well, unless you picked up one of the beer-themed ones.


I haven’t had to purchase a Father’s Day card or present in decades and again, it’s better this way.  Greeting cards and suggested gifts are a window into how much of the world sees someone in a particular role.  It’s almost a stereotype, an extreme exaggeration.  In looking at anniversary cards you’d think the most romantic thing a husband can do for his wife is letting her have the remote control for the day.  


Some t-girls are parents.  For those of us who identify as anything besides cisgender, we may have clearly defined lines between our gender identities, our wardrobes, and our lives.  I love my femme life, and I love my boy life.  There is very little overlap.  You also may be a parent, a dad, in your boy life.  And yes, perhaps the greeting card companies are right, maybe you DO like to fish while having a beer.  Maybe you are handy and a master steak griller or whatever.  Please know I am not trivializing anyone’s hobbies, interests, or talents.  I wish I were handy and could repair stuff.  I can fix my eyeliner but I can’t fix a leaky faucet.  


For those like us, we are more complex than any greeting card could ever guess.  There are countless dads out there that would prefer a necklace over a necktie on Father’s Day.  They love their kids AND they love a cute skirt.  They love being a dad and they love strutting in stilettos.  I can’t imagine Hallmark having a card for someone like us.  


My point is that there is more to everyone than you could possibly imagine.  My mom is stronger than any flower, some of Hannah’s friends are dads who are beautiful.  Some of us have come out to others in our lives and have completely stunned them.  So many of us keep this side of us a secret because it’s the last thing anyone would ever guess about them.  If you are reading this, there’s likely a side of you that seemingly contradicts with how much of the world sees you.  You might drive a big truck on your way to work at the construction site, but no one would imagine you have pink nails under your steel-toed work boots.  


Father’s Day is a somewhat uncomfortable and awkward reminder of how much of the world sees MEN and what they think a MAN is and should be.  I hate the world’s assumption that just because I present as a man most of the time that there’s nothing more to me than what they think a man IS and what a man SHOULD be.  I have a much more interesting wardrobe than the shirt and tie my co-workers see me wear. So for the dads out there that are reading this, please know that although you may be getting a a new fishing pole or a greeting card with a grill on it next month, there are many like you who would also love a gift certificate for a manicure.

Love, Hannah

Double Genders, Double Standards

Hi! 


I write a lot about coming out and the wildly differing responses and reactions this revelation can result in.  Deciding who we come out to, why we do so, and how we have this conversation are different decisions for all of us.  I do feel we are obligated to come out to our partners and our significant others, but like everything there may be some caveats to that.  But beyond that, I don’t think we have an obligation to come out to anyone else we know.  Of course, there is a difference between telling someone that you like to wear panties and telling someone you plan on living full time.  One revelation is a personal preference when it comes to undies, the other is a major lifestyle change.  I don’t think your best friend needs (or wants) to know what you wear under your boy clothes, but if you are going to present and identify as a gender other than the one most people know you as, perhaps it’s time to have that conversation.


How we come out is different for each of us as identifying as trans (or bi-gender, or as a crossdresser, or genderfluid…) means something different for all of us.  Yes, I am trans and were I to come out to someone today (not planning on coming out to anyone today, but the day is young) I would explain that identifying as trans doesn’t mean transitioning or hormones.  When I came out as a crossdresser to my mom and siblings years ago it didn’t quite explain who I was as accurately as perhaps a different term would.  


Why we come out is also different for each of us.  I feel we need to come out to our partners because I think it is important (and fair) to let them know who we are, in case our gender identity (or wardrobe) is a deal-breaker for them.  Beyond that, we come out to others in our lives for different reasons.  I have considered coming out to my two best male friends because sometimes I feel I am being dishonest and I would hope they would feel it would be safe to have a similar discussion about themselves with me.  I came out to a roommate because I was tired of not being able to wear what I wanted in my own home.  


Why we come out to someone is tied to who we come out to.  Sometimes we come out to someone because we feel strongly they would be an ally.  A friend, a confident.  Someone who can help us with makeup.  But I think it’s fair that for some people in our lives we have more reasons to NOT come out to them than there are reasons to do so.  For example, I would never, ever come out to my homophobic relatives that post anti-queer statements on Facebook.  Do you think they care or understand the little nuances of being non-cis?  Coming out to them would absolutely ruin my life.  It’s true you can cut out toxic people in your life, but let’s face it, some people, especially relatives, can never go away.  


I have come out to a very select number of friends in my life.  Coming out to someone that I am not in a romantic relationship with has, in a way, very few repercussions.  You are friends, not dating, so coming out doesn’t impact your relationship as significantly.  Coming out to a girlfriend brings up a lot of questions.  They may ask themselves if they want to date someone who wears lingerie.  They may wonder if committing to someone who is on a journey (uuuuuurgh) of gender identity and all the twists and detours this adventure can have.  They may wonder (or worry) that in a few years their boyfriend (or husband) might want to transition.  Who we are is hard enough on ourselves, but sharing this secret (if it is a secret) is a lot to ask of someone else.  As much as we worry about “getting caught” our partners wonder about the implications on their own life if our secret was revealed. 


Have I come out to every girlfriend?  God, no.  When I was twenty I dated a girl who came from a very religious family.  I can’t say she was completely committed to Christ but her family’s influence (and her need of their approval) was a big reason for everything she said and did and said she believed.  She would openly mock anyone from the LGBTQ+ community, she would smugly say lesbians were going to hell.  Coming out to her would be The Worst Idea ever.


And yes, some people might wonder if perhaps she realized that someone important in her life was non-cis perhaps she would become more enlightened.  And yes!  That is a fair point and not unrealistic, but even if she was accepting her family would not be, and that would be enough for her to condemn me.  They didn’t like me anyway, lol.


Looking back I can’t believe I dated someone like her, but I was young, emotionally fragile, and had just gotten out of a rather traumatic relationship.  I needed love, I think.  And in my defense she was not “gays are bad” when we started to date.  She was primarily like that when she was around her family.  


But that relationship is a perfect example of what is on my mind this morning.  She said she was a Christian and although it’s been a while since I’ve been to church I am pretty certain that Jesus’ whole thing was to love others and that only God can judge.  “Whatever you do so to the least of people, you do unto Me” and all of that.  To know someone who proudly declared themselves a follower of Christ but had so much hate and contempt for anyone who wasn’t cis or straight was baffling to me.  It was hypocritical.  


The first girlfriend that I came out to, and the first person I came out to EVER was as enthusiastic and supportive of the LGBTQ+ community as you could imagine.  She identified as bi and said her last boyfriend did drag.  I came out to her for two reasons.  Firstly, we were dating and I had wanted us to, you know, keep dating.  That meant putting my cards on the table.  But I also came out to her because I thought it was safe to do so.  Based on her sexual identity and her previous relationship I didn’t think she would freak out that her boyfriend loved wearing lingerie.


I was WRONG.


She listened but kindly asked for reassurance that I wouldn’t do it anymore.  That I had outgrown it.  That I wouldn’t mention it ever again.  I was stunned and heartbroken.  Heartbroken because I had let someone in, I had shared my secret with someone for the first time and it went BADLY.  But more so I was stunned.  After all, she talked about her support for the LGBTQ+ community but when it came to supporting her LGBTQ+ boyfriend, well, then it was different.  At the time I felt it was hypocritical.  Why did she brag about her ex doing drag but her current boyfriend wasn’t “allowed” to wear panties?  Why was it okay for her to be bi but I couldn’t be a crossdresser?


To be fair, ‘crossdresser’ was (and probably still is) primarily considered a fetish and being viewed as kinky is not necessarily the same as simply wanting to wear lingerie.  In her defense she might have had a different reaction were I to have come out using terms that more accurately described who I was, and who I am.  


But my point is that her reaction surprised me.  I had felt that coming out to someone who identified as a member of the LGBTQ+ community would be “safe”.  I was wrong.  One’s identity does not obligate them to be supportive of everyone else’s identity. 


Even if someone identifies as straight/cis they may still be an ally and supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.  My mom and siblings are Good People.  I am glad to be related to them.  One would imagine that coming out to them would be a positive experience.  I mean, my brother is gay so I feel there is so precedent there.  My mom had a yard sign for marriage equality on her lawn, we all have friends who are gay, so I felt coming out to them would be safe.  


I was WRONG.


Again, I take some responsibility as to HOW I came out.  I came out as a crossdresser.  Again, there may have been some lingering… ah, prejudice against the term and it’s association with fetishism/kink/sex but I wish I had explained myself better.  Overall the reaction was more or less “that’s nice but let’s not talk about.  Ever”.  And we really haven’t.  At least not on purpose.


I suppose I could come out again, but to be honest after the less than welcoming reaction I feel it would be pointless and would be setting myself up for another disappointment and rejection.  
My reaction at the time (and is still my reaction) is (and was) wondering if their response was hypocritical.  Why was it okay for our brother to be gay but wasn’t okay for me to be who I was?  Why are you supporting transgender equality but won’t talk to your trans family member?  


In their defense I will acknowledge that if I came out as trans (or bi-gender) or explained myself better their reaction might have been different, but that ship has sailed.  I know I could have come out in a more descriptive way.  It is important to be gentle when we come out.  As overwhelming and as complicated it is to understand ourselves, it is ever more so for our loved ones.


Labeling someone as hypocritical is a pretty big brush to paint them as.  I like to give people the benefit of the doubt but in my experience these are just reminders as to why coming out is as complicated, risky, and as nerve-wracking as it is.  

Related reading

Identity and Responsibility

Meeting Your Heroes

Sharing the Secret

Love, Hannah

A Better Son/Daughter

Years ago I wrote for Frock, a magazine focusing on the trans community. It is sadly no longer being published. The other day I was thinking about an article I wrote shortly after I came out to my mom.

The article was very much written in the moment and was very, well, optimistic. I had hoped my relationship with my mom would have improved and she would get to know Hannah. In my naivety I had thought that by opening up to my mom would have improved our relationship.

My relationship with her has gotten better, actually. But it’s not because of Hannah. Time did that.

Coming out will always change things. We only have one chance to do it and I wish I had discussed this with her in a different way. I understand myself and gender identity in a different way compared to when I wrote this in 2013. I came out as a crossdresser, not as transgender or bi-gender. Today this revelation would go a different way.

Love, Hannah

I remember sneaking into my mom’s closet all those years ago and trying on pretty much everything.  I was very careful to put everything back how it was.  Every time I would dress up I would think to myself that she could never find out about this.  So last year I was surprised to find myself wanting to tell her about my crossdressing. 

Like my most crossdressers, my hobby has certainly grown and evolved.  Once I accepted I was a crossdresser, I was mostly drawn toward lingerie.  At that point in my life, I would have never dreamed of telling anyone.  As I got into my early 20’s, I started sleeping in nightgowns and wearing dresses and skirts once in a while, though never for very long.  At the time, wearing “real” clothes wasn’t something I was used to.  It wasn’t until my wife taught me how to do make up and helped me buy a wig when wearing a blouse and skirt really felt right.  I adopted the name ‘Hannah’ for when I was dressed up, and soon Hannah had her own life.  Her own website, new friends and in a way, a different personality than the male part of me.  My wife started to notice differences between “me” and Hannah.  Hannah was more patient, she listened better, she was more vulnerable, she communicated better…she understood my wife in ways her husband didn’t.  As Hannah, I feel I can relate to my wife in different ways.  In some ways, crossdressing has really strengthened our relationship through communication, hard work and love.  I am a lucky girl, and a lucky man. 

It was a warm spring night and my wife and I were on our porch having a glass of wine.  I was wearing a blouse, black pencil skirt and stilleto heels.  “So…when are you going to tell your family?” my wife asked.  I smiled, I had been thinking the same thing.  Back when crossdressing was just about panties, the idea of telling anyone was out of the question.  Whether its panties or boxer shorts, no one wants to know what anyone wears under their clothes.  But as Hannah became, in a way, a real person, I wanted people to meet her.  After a few months, I told my sisters and brother.  It’s difficult to explain crossdressing to someone, but I think they understood. 

My relationship with my mom had always been difficult.  In my teens my parents went through a rather nasty divorce.  The divorce was a good thing, it should’ve happened a long time before that, and perhaps that’s where my anger started.  My mom and I fought constantly.  Once I entered my 20’s I calmed down a bit but my mother and I were never really close.  As I got older, I wanted to have a better relationship with her.  I always felt I had a wall between her and I.  When I told my siblings about my crossdressing, I felt a wall came down.  I wanted that with my mom and by telling her, I hoped that it would break the barrier between us.  I would be vulnerable and honest with her.  Telling someone about crossdressing is, in a way, giving them power.  Its saying that they know something about you that few people understand, and to please be mindful as to what you do with this information as it could change the way people see me.  I have been lucky that everyone I have told has been accepting and happy for me.  But if my employer were to find out, I would likely be out of a job.

On a Saturday night, we sat down and I acknowledged our difficult relationship and wanted to be closer to her.  I told her I was a crossdresser.  She was shocked.  I had expected all the normal questions about if I was gay or going to transition…but she never asked.  I told her that I had been crossdressing all my life, how I was never ashamed or confused by it and how happy I was.  She told me that she loved me and that she loved Hannah and she just wanted her children to be happy.  Her reaction and acceptance surprised me just as much as I had surprised her.  The conversation could not have gone better.

I spoke to her after what I told her had sunk in a bit.  She was still digesting what I told her but she still loved me.  Since that night, I have making more of an effort, more than I’ve made in the past, to be a better son.  I hope someday she meets Hannah.  I think she would like her.

Related reading

So, This Happened

Meeting Your Heroes

The Lying, the What-Ifs, and the Wardrobe

I remember the first pair of panties I had.  When I wasn’t wearing them I kept them hidden in a drawer.  I was fifteen.  I was terrified someone would find them.


Paranoia is often crippling but it can save our lives.  It holds us back from stepping out en femme.  What if someone sees us?  What if we run into someone we know?  We replay these scenarios over and over and over to the point where we become so frightened that it becomes easier to deny this side of us than to live with the anxiety that the endless “what ifs” bring.  
For some, the anxiety of living a denied life becomes greater than any risk that this side of us brings.  We accept that whatever happens, happens.  We dress, we drive to the mall, and…  no one cares.  It is this moment that the next part of our lives begin.


Of course, the paranoia we had becomes useful, in a way.  We likely replayed scenario after scenario of what we would do if we saw someone we knew.  Although we have stepped out of the house, we don’t let go of the thoughts that held us back for so long.  We look around everywhere we go, we avoid places that our friends, families, coworkers shop, we scan every store to see who is in there as we wander around in it.


We’re still living a secret life, but it’s also as public as it gets.


The more we do, the more we venture out, the more possible scenarios play out in our heads.  Despite how long and how often I’ve been going out, I still think about the “what ifs”.  Last summer I did a photo shoot where I stood on top of a narrow ledge next to a building.  I couldn’t help but think that were I to tumble to the ground… well, what then?  I pictured an ambulance, I wondered how I would explain to my friends that I fell because it’s hard to balance in stilettos on top of a wall.  Luckily I lived (and captured a few great pictures) and my worrying, my paranoia, was for nothing.


When I was fifteen and when I wore my panties I was as nervous as I could be that someone would see the lacy detail poking out of the top of my jeans.  When I wasn’t wearing them I was scared to death my mom would find them.  Basically I was a wreck all the time.  But this is a good example of choosing to live with the fear of being caught as opposed to the stress that denying who I am brings.


When I was nineteen I had my first apartment.  The panties tucked away in my dresser continued to multiply…  but so did my anxiety.  My girlfriend had a key to my apartment so I traded the fear of my mom finding out with the fear of my girlfriend finding out.  


Eventually we broke up but panties, bras, stockings, continued to have a place in my dresser.  Of course, my lingerie soon took up more room than my boy clothes and I soon had to get a storage bin.  And a second one.  When I was in my twenties I rented a room in my friend’s house.  I had my storage bins in my closet, behind other boxes.  It was unlikely he would find my collection, but still, the paranoia was there.


I had spent so much money over the years buying lingerie, purging, and then buying new lingerie.  I was tired of that.  I was tired of tossing out beautiful bras and panties.  I was tired of pretending that I could stop.  Acceptance leads to more “what ifs”, however.  Just as our thought process starts with “what if I see someone I know” to “what if they see me and tells everyone about me” to “what if everyone in my life thinks I’m a freak”, my thought process started to turn to “what will happen were I to die and my family found my lingerie and heels while they were attending to my belongings?”.


It’s not a comfortable topic and it sounds a little morbid but many of us think about what our family will think were they to find out about this side of us after we die.


On one hand (and I don’t mean to be glib or talk lightly of something so serious) some of us likely aren’t concerned about what people think of us now or what they may think of us after we have left this world.  I feel that way to a certain extent when it comes to some people in my life.  But for others I feel a little guilt that such an important part of me is a secret from some of the people I care about the most.  I would feel….  a lot of things were I to find out about something along these lines about one of my best friends and how they felt they couldn’t tell me about it.


As I let the “what ifs” play in my head, I usually wondered how I would explain something that really couldn’t be explained.  It can’t be summarized quickly, every t-girl and crossdresser is different when it comes to this side of us.  It can take countless conversations over the course of years for someone else to “get it” or at least come to terms with it.  Having an opportunity to answer questions, to talk about our feelings, our lives, can help someone, well maybe not understand this part of us, but perhaps helps make it a little easier to ease someone’s mind.  


But when we pass on, our family may find a beautiful wardrobe…  and a lot of unanswered questions.


If I am going to come out to some, I want to do it on my terms.  I want to portray who I am HOW I am.  If you come out as a crossdresser to someone and they google that same word…  well, they may get the wrong idea about who we are.  At least when I am alive I likely have an opportunity to talk about what crossdressing means to me.  But when I am gone unless Ouija boards work, then people will make assumptions without knowing this side of me.  


When someone finds out about this part of us, it will impact them, to put it lightly.  They may feel hurt that we kept a secret, they may be confused, they may be angry., they may feel obligated to continue to keep our secret.  When we come out to someone, it turns their world inside out.  When our world does this, regardless of why, we usually need to talk to someone, and it’s easiest to talk to someone that understands, someone who went through what we are going through.  But finding out our husband/son/brother/friend is a crossdresser isn’t something that most people don’t talk about.  With no one to talk to, we become lonely, frustrated, confused.  


I knew this could happen were I to pass away.  As complicated as my relationship is with my family (both before and after I came out to them), there is, and has always been, love there.  I didn’t want them to feel alone.  I wanted to, as best as I could, explain who I am… FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE.  Again, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I am trying to keep this as light as I can.  So, I did the only thing I could think of.  I wrote a letter.


Perched atop panties, bras, garter belts, stockings, was an envelope.  Inside was a note where I acknowledged that finding these clothes was likely a shock.  I apologized for adding to what was likely already a stressful and emotional time.  Dealing with a family member’s passing is difficult (to put it lightly) but discovering a secret just adds to it.  I wrote, as best as I was able, about this side of me.  I provided a few websites where my family could turn to, such as PFLAG, if they needed someone to talk to.  I did this as sincerely as possible.  It wasn’t an easy letter to write, but I knew I had to do it.  I didn’t want them to feel I was keeping a secret from them, but really, that’s exactly what I was doing.  I didn’t want them to think I was lying about who I was, either.  Even on death, I wanted to come out on my own terms.


I tossed the letter, along with my lingerie, on my next, and what would be my final purge.
I still think about the “what ifs”.  But that’s just who I am, even outside of this side of me.  As I get older I think more about the future and making plans.  Plans for retirement, plans for my passing. 


I have quite a collection of books.  I also have a friend who shares the same passion for reading and books as I do.  I told him that when I pass, I need him to take care of my book collection.  It’s a huge collection and it’s not something I want to burden my wife with after I die.  I have similar requests of others in my life, such as my finances.  


I can have all the contingency plans (if you will) that you can imagine, but if I die suddenly I know my wife is going to inherit a huge wardrobe.  My wife and I have very few similar tastes when it comes to clothes and she’s going to need an evening gown or a PVC dress so it’s not like her wardrobe is going to expand in a way that she’ll necessarily benefit from.  I do wonder what will happen to…  everything.  I suppose the easiest thing would be for her to simply donate what could be donated.  I’m sure some nonprofit charity would be thrilled to receive a leather minidress.


As old as I feel these days (mentally, that is) I am not ready to make any decisions of course.  But again, we can’t stop thinking about the “what ifs”.

Love, Hannah

Related reading

Sharing the Secret

Identity and Responsibility

Meeting Your Heroes

Let it Go

Ask Hannah!

I am 52 and have been cross dressing since I was 11. I have been married for a while and have never come out to my wife, do you have any tips or advice on me telling her about my feminine side? I’m tired of sneaking around and would like to finally let her know. Thanks 

I would really think twice about dropping such a bombshell on your wife during a pandemic.  I know you’re tired of concealing this side of you and our partners are never prepared to have this conversation and there truly is never a good time to have this conversation, but we need to read the room, if you follow.  We are all stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted and this conversation might be more than your wife can handle at the moment.


That being said, I have written a lot about coming out and everything that can come with it.  This is not a conversation that you will have once or even fifty times.  There’s going to be a shift in your relationship that will be forever be impacted by this.  


There’s really no right way to have this conversation.  Every relationship is different, every marriage is different.  How I came out to my wife will be different than how you might do it.  

Take some time and read what I have written about this over the years: 

Writings about marriage

Writings about family

Good luck!

Love, Hannah

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

Stuck Inside on Coming Out

Yesterday was National Coming Out Day.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Love, Hannah

Identity and Responsibility

I was out for a run the other day and usually a run allows me to lose myself in my thoughts and to let my mind wander.  Being outside, getting exercise, is a great way to gain some perspective.  It helps me work out problems and occasionally have a brilliant, random idea.  On this particular run I thought to myself “we need to take responsibility for our gender identity”.  And I was like yes!  We do!  And then I thought “what in the world does that mean?”


As my run continued, I started to break down this thought.  My core belief is that this is who we are, we can’t change that.  Call it nature, call it being born this way, we are who we are.  We do not have a choice.   The choice lies in how we respond to who we are.  We can deny it (good luck), we can ignore it, we can accept it, we can embrace it.  And we can act on it.  Or not.  


Our choice also lies in how we respond to those around us.  When en femme I get a lot of looks.  That’s not to say people are just fawning over me and they’re like OMG look at the pretty girl.  No.  Most of the looks are people seeing me and processing me.  It’s not common to see a girl as tall as me, so I am given a second look.  Not every girl is wearing heels and a beautiful dress at the store, so I am a little out of place.  And of course, I am trans and there’s really not enough of us (but more than you think) where we are so common that we kind of blend in and are unremarkable.  I am aware of the impact I have on people.  That is not to say that I am enchanting everyone around me and everyone thinks I am beautiful or whatever.  No.  I am fully aware that I am a t-girl, I am wearing a cute outfit, heels, amazing eyeliner, and regardless of if someone thinks I am attractive or not, I am noticed and I am likely causing some sort of reaction.  Reactions can include anything from “cute dress!” to “hey, a transgirl, cool” to “this chick is in my way” to “goddamn tranny”.  


Regardless of the gender I present as, I take responsibility for everything I do.  If I make a mistake at work, I own up to it.  If I am too sarcastic and hurt someone’s feelings, I apologize.  If Hannah makes you feel uncomfortable well, too bad.  I don’t care.  Get over it.  BUT!  I am aware that gender identity can be a complicated discussion and something some parents want to have with their children when it’s the right time and when both parent and child are ready to have the conversation.  In my experience if I see a kid with a parent they will usually stare at me as they are processing what they see.  Someone who is pretty clearly masculine wearing a pretty dress.  I fully accept (and expect) that they may wonder, often out loud, why that man is wearing a dress.  This is probably not a conversation many parents want to have while they are out running errands, even if the parents are extremely accepting and supportive of the trans community.  So, because of this, I become hyperaware when I am out in public and there a lot of kids around.  I don’t feel I am damaging them, but I feel I am presenting a perspective on gender that is likely outside of the experience they have had up until now.


This, I feel, is taking responsibility for my gender identity.


But for grown-ups, I really, really don’t care if I challenge your opinion and perspective and concept of gender.  Grow the hell up.  Let others live their best life.  I don’t care what you think or feel.  Lalalalala I can’t hear you.


BUT!  It’s different for our family.  My racist, homophobic uncles do not know about me, and they never will.  But if they did, they would HATE me.  And I wouldn’t care.  Really, that’s their problem.  I haven’t spoken to most of my extended family in decades anyway, so why would I care what they think?  Especially when it comes to something like gender identity?  Really, if you are transphobic or homophobic, that is 100% on you.  I am not going to change your mind and I am not going to spend any energy trying to do so.  I don’t know how to explain to someone why gender identity or sexual preference are not things to judge someone by.  
BUT!  Extended family is one thing, our siblings, parents, and especially our significant others, are another.  My relationship with my mom has always been complicated and has rarely been easy.  It’s gotten better as we have both gotten older, but i have accepted that she and Hannah will never go out for coffee.  Accepting this is one thing, but I still hope for it.  My mom’s opinion on one’s gender identity impacts me a little more.  I love my mom, and her perspective on me, my gender, my choices, my life hits differently than my racist uncle.  Who I am is important to me, and when people I love and care about have an opinion and perspective that differs from me about something as important as gender identity, well, it hurts, to be honest.  


When I came out to my mom I knew this would have a huge impact on her.  I didn’t know how it would go and I was nervous as to what our relationship would be like going forward.  Let’s be real, most relationships can be divided between Before Coming Out and After Coming Out.  I didn’t think she would disown me or anything, my mom is very liberal, my older brother is gay (not that being trans and gay at the same thing but there is some non-cis/non-hetereo precedent in our family).  I came out to my mom on a Saturday night.  The next day was a family gathering.  The coming out conversation was planned this way on purpose.  I wanted to open up to her in a way I never did before, and I wanted a family gathering the next day, just to re-establish a little more normality in her life and our dynamic and to kind of show her that although I was who I was, I was still who I’ve always been.  


Of course, our talk the night before was all that she could think about.  It was still sinking in.  Even after all this time it’s probably still sinking in.


A few years ago my mom properly met Hannah.  At the mall, of course.  This, however, was not planned.  Having a talk is one thing, seeing your son in a cute (well, I think it’s cute) pink dress, stilettos and makeup is another.  I reopened the conversation completely unintentionally.  Honestly I felt bad about that day.  I knew she didn’t understand or even want to talk about this side of me, and then here I am 10000% en femme at JCPenney (hey they have cute dresses once in a while). 

This had an impact on her in a different, more intense way than the chat we had at her dining room table a few years prior.  Although my gender identity is mine and personal and is really no one’s business but my own, I was, and will always be, aware of how who I am can affect the people I love.  I can’t, and won’t change who I am, but I certainly know how this side of me makes someone feel.


The most serious and sacred relationship one can have in their lives is the one they have with their spouse or significant other.  You dedicated yourself to each other, you made a commitment.  You invested your time, money, and energy to your relationship.  Perhaps you have children, or own a home, or a business.  You go through life’s challenges and successes and failures with each other.  Everything either one of you does has an impact on the other.  You owe it to them to consult with them on most of the decisions you will make in life.  As your life goes on, individually as well as together, things change.  Your children grow up, you change careers… and it’s possible your gender identity evolves as well.  When things change you have an obligation to have honest and productive conversations with your partner.  
They may not understand, they may not accept, they may not like this part of you, but your gender identity will have a significant impact on your relationship and on your partner.  It’s hard to come out.  It’s so scary but I believe if this side of you affects you significantly then you probably should have the talk with them.  And yes, it’s hard to go into a conversation where you don’t know the outcome will be.  I get it, I promise I do.  


As we keep our gender identity bottled up, the desire, our feelings only grow stronger.  They may get to the point where we don’t care about anyone’s opinion about who we are.  And that isn’t a bad thing.  When I stopped caring about complete strangers might think about me it gave me the freedom to dress to the nines and go everywhere from the gas station to the theater to Pride.  But we can’t think that way about our spouse.  You may be at the point where you are willing to risk it all because you need to acknowledge who you are, you may be at the point where you don’t care what anyone thinks.  You may be at a point where you feel if others have a problem with this, well, that’s their problem.


And yes, you are not wrong….


But you can’t think that this is only your partner’s problem.  You don’t have the luxury to not care what your wife, your significant other, thinks about your gender identity.  


When you start to acknowledge your gender identity has changed since you have gotten married or made a commitment to someone this isn’t “their problem”.  You HAVE to care.  This is now something the two of you need to work through and work out.  


Who we are is sacred.  It is important we are honest with ourselves.  It’s important we are honest with our partners.  We made a commitment to them and yes, relationships change and sometimes they get to a point where two people are no longer happy, or in love, or the relationship has run its course.  Our marriages require a lot of communication and mutual respect.  Our actions impact them, and we must take responsibility for what we do, how we feel, or how we identify.  


Love, Hannah

Ask Hannah!

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


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

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

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

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

Love, Hannah

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