Be Worth It

If you are reading this, there is a really good chance you could, and do, identify as transgender.  I define that term rather broadly so whether you are on hormones, living full-time or just wearing a cute pair of panties or have pink toenails there’s a really strong likelihood you fit within that definition.

Based on the comments on this blog and the emails I receive, I suspect that most of you are like me.  I happily go back and forth between genders, I am secure with who I am, I have no plans to transition and I am at peace with who I am.

I am also happily married.

Relationships with those like us are not easy.  For either partner.  We wrestle with if we should tell our partner, how we should tell them as well as the fear of what will happen if we do.

I will make the first one easy for you  YES TELL THEM.  Tell them while you are dating.  Tell them when the relationship gets serious.  Tell them when it feels like you want to be with them for a long time.  Tell them before any commitment is made, whether that commitment is moving in with each other, getting engaged or getting married.

You need to tell them because this part of you is not a phase.  It is not going to go away.  It will not fade over time.  You will not outgrow it.  Some of us hope that we will because it creates a lot of conflict and tension within themselves.  It scares them.  I understand.  We all wonder what this means, why we want to wear heels or eyeliner or feel a little… strange when someone calls us a typical guy.  We wonder if we were born in the wrong body, we wonder if we need to transition.  We wonder where all this is going.

Our partners wonder the same thing.

Truly the only way you can determine for yourself where this is is all going and what it means is to let yourself find out.  We need to embrace and accept this part of us.  We need to stop being in denial about who we are and what we feel.  If you want to wear that dress or skirt, then you need to wear that dress or skirt.  How does it feel?  How do you feel?

Does the next step feel right?

Growing up I thought all of …this was about pretty panties and lingerie.  When I got older I realized it wasn’t.  In my early thirties I had a makeover, a wig and a little black dress.  I kept going to the next “level” and each step felt…well, it felt wonderful.  It was normal (and scary) for my wife to think about what was next.  But there was nothing next.  I continued to, well, let’s call it evolve, but there was no consideration from me about hormones or transitioning or anything.  I was done.  I found out where all of this was leading.  I even attended PFLAG meetings to talk to others like me and discussed this with a therapist to make sure I wasn’t in denial.

In terms of how you should tell your partner, well, I can’t answer that for you.  I get emails several times a week from others like me asking me to email their partner, girlfriend, wife, spouse or family and talk to them and explain this to them.  I’m not going to do that, obviously.  It’s not my place.  Coming out to our partners, or anyone, is a private and personal conversation.  The best advice I can give is to approach this as it were potentially devastating.  We have all had to break difficult news to someone.  We needed to be gentle and honest in those times.  We need to be gentle and honest with this.

It’s normal to be afraid of the aftermath.  No matter how well you know someone you will never be able to predict how they will react.  That fear is no excuse for not being honest with your partner.  They deserve to know so they can make their own decisions about their relationships.  If they do not feel they can, or want to be in a relationship with someone like us they deserve the right and ability to make that choice.

If this is a deal-breaker for them that does not make them a bad person by any means.  If it is, then they should be respected for being honest.  And you should know that you did the right thing by being upfront about who you are.

But if this is not a deal-breaker, then the two of you learn how to live with this.  And it likely won’t be easy.  Compromises may be made, boundaries may be set.  For the love of God please respect them.  If they ask you not to post photos online or leave the house, then don’t do it.  Just don’t.  It is a violation of respect and trust.  If you get caught then why should they believe anything you say?  I believe lying about this is the worst thing you can do to someone.

The dust will settle, the shock with subside and the two of you will enter into a new reality.  This new reality could take on many dynamics.  It could be ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, it could be the two of you getting makeovers and hitting the mall.  It could be a million different things in-between.

Every marriage is different.  Every marriage handles things in different ways.  It could be finances, raising children, or how two people adapt to the husband rocking a miniskirt.   I could write a book about relationships and being who we are but the point I want to make is that you know who you are and so do they.

Even if the two of you go out to the movies or the theater or dinner dressed to kill, there’s a good chance that it took a lot to get there.  It could have been a lot of time, patience, tears, conversations, arguments, counseling or anything else.  Regardless of where the two of you have landed, it was not easy to get there.

For either of you.

This is not an easy thing to discuss or understand.  Tying to help someone else understand who we are is almost impossible.  It’s a dynamic that most people don’t anticipate having to deal with in their relationships.  It could be a lonely thing for a wife to live with.  In a way, this is not as simple or direct as their husband having an affair.  This is not something that many people can relate to.  Many spouses may feel like there is no one they can talk to that might help sort out their feelings.  They may just keep their feelings to themselves where the fear, doubt, confusion, or perhaps resentment, grows.

If you are a partner of someone like me and are struggling or looking for support or understanding, please seek out a local PFLAG support group.

We as human beings and as partners need to be the best people we can be.  Always.  It’s kind of a basic thing, you know?  But for those like us we need to be better than the best.  Our partners are coming to terms with this side of us just like we had to come to terms with this side of us.  This is not something most partners anticipated living with in their relationships.

So, be worth it.  They are, or have, struggled with this.  They may be stressed, scared or lonely.  Be gentle with them, not only when it comes to this but also with everything else the two of you live with.  Be honest.  Surprise them.  It could be with flowers or power tools or a massage or anything else they might want.  Talk with them about anything besides this.  Be their husband, be their boyfriend, if you know they need their man, too.  Fixing something or wearing work boots does not diminish this other side of you in any way.

We always need to show our partners we appreciate them.  However, just like there is something a little bit more to us, we need to be a little bit more to them.

Love, Hannah

 

 

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Sharing the Secret

I am at a point in my life where I rarely feel the need to tell others about who I am or how I identify.  I’ve told a few friends and family members and I don’t think anyone else needs to know.  However, I am also at a point where if I were…”caught” I would be open and honest about my identity.  Who I am is still a secret, but keeping secrets is exhausting.

As far as I know, I have gone through my life without anyone “finding out” unless I specifically told them.  I’ve never bumped into someone into the mall that didn’t know about me.  I’ve always kept my guard up, avoided areas in the city where my family and friends tend to go and have gotten good at stealthily shopping in male mode if I need to pick up a pair of stockings or foundation.  Thank goodness for self-checkouts and online shopping.

We have always known who we are.  If we keep who we are a secret, then that is on us.  And it’s perfectly understandable why we may not reveal everything about us to everyone in our lives.  Not everyone needs to know.  There are some people in my life that I would like to know about me.  There are others that I don’t care one way or the other, and there are those who I thank God every day that do not know.

But there is someone who does need to know.  Our partners.  Whether we are in a committed relationship or we are married, our significant others need to know.  They need to know when the relationship becomes serious.  Not after you get married.  Not after you move in with each other.  Not after you get engaged.  Before.  Before any of this.  They need to know who you are.  You need to know who you are.

I understand how one can change how they identify as one grows, and I understand we may not always know what we will want in five years, and I absolutely understand how complicated all of this is, but my point is that we need to be secure and comfortable in who we are and how we identify before we pursue a relationship.

We need to know this before we are in a committed relationship.  It is unfair to get engaged and then tell your fiance that you are unsure if you want to transition, take hormones or anything else.  I understand people change.  I get that.  Before I was engaged I thought all of this was about lingerie but I have evolved.  But I knew then, I know now, and I have always known that transition or living full-time was not for me.

Revealing who we are is scary.  No matter how long we’ve known someone or how well we know them, there’s no way to anticipate how they will react.  You might have a suspicion, but there’s no way to know for sure.  If my uncle was a Baptist preacher from the South I think I would have a pretty good idea how he would react, but the point is that no matter who they are, there’s no way to really know until you tell them.  How scary is that?

Confiding in someone can absolutely feel amazing, especially the first time we do it.  For a long time, we have kept everything a secret.  Whether it’s that brave first admittance that we wear panties or showing a photo of our femme selves.  Finally, finally we can open up and talk about this.  The weight is off our shoulders.

But the weight is still there… it’s just shared.  Whoever you come out to carries that secret now.  You must respect your significant other’s feelings about this.  If you are comfortable going out and your partner is not, you need to respect that.  If you don’t care if someone sees the outline of a bra strap under your t-shirt but your significant other does, you need to respect that.

Your significant other needs to know and deserves to know this about you…because you will never outgrow this.  This is not a phase.  You may be able to suppress this side of you, but it’s always there.

For some relationships, this side of us is a deal-breaker…which is exactly why this conversation needs to happen before any sort of commitment is made.  If people want different things in a relationship, then that needs to be considered.  If one person wants children and the other doesn’t, then those two people probably shouldn’t get married.  I believe this side of us is not that different than something like that.

If your significant other knows about this side of you (and I sure hope they do) then they will find their comfort level with this part of you.  This is also something that may change over time.  Whether your significant other is on the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t talk about it’ side or the two of you hit the mall together dressed, the point is that they know and we need to respect (and yes, compromise in some cases) how they feel and what they want to do with this information.

For some of us, this secret is a lonely secret.  Many of us feel there is no one we can talk to about this.  We have lived with this part of us for years.  Decades.  We have had the time to think about this and sort this through.  There’s a good chance we know who we are and what we want.  When you come out to someone you are dropping a (glitter) bomb into their life.  Your significant other coming out as transgender is not something many anticipate.  Sharing this secret also can mean sharing the loneliness.

I’ve spoken to many partners of t-girls and many of them share with me how alone they felt with this secret.  It’s not an easy thing thing to talk about.  Every transperson is different and we have to talk about who we are to the person we come out to, and then that person needs to be able to explain it to someone else… if they share this secret with someone else.

And they have that right.

It’s not fair to tell your significant other about who you are and then ask them to not talk about it with anyone.  Some significant others need to.  They want to.  I’m sure we can understand needing and wanting to share this.  When you trust someone with a secret, you are also trusting what they will do with it.  But where does one start when it comes to talking about that their partner is trans?  You can always start with PFLAG if someone is looking for local support.

There’s no right way to come out to someone, especially your significant other.  There are a lot of wrong ways to do it.

-Don’t get caught.  That’s not saying to keep it a secret.  Tell them.  Tell them before they find your hidden stash of lingerie.  Tell them before they see your web browser history.

-Don’t surprise them.  A t-girl told me they came out to their wife by dressing up and waiting for them in the living room when she came home from work.  I can’t think of a worse way to tell someone about this.

-Don’t tell them around other people.   I would hope that this is obvious but you never know.

-Don’t tell them in a public place.  A t-girl told me she told her wife while they were on a plane.  She was afraid of her wife walking out on her and thought that if they were on a plane they would be “forced” to sit and talk.  I take what I said earlier back, this is the worst way to tell someone.

So… how do you share the secret?  You know your significant other better than I do.  You may have had to share big, potentially bad news with them before.  How did you break it to them?  This might be the biggest thing you will ever share with them.  It will forever change your relationship.

Let me say it again, it will forever change your relationship.

When I came out to my wife, I shared my secret with her about a year before we lived with each other.  As I evolved from wearing lingerie to…well, who I am now, her feelings and fears also changed.  As she saw me try on my first wig or leave the house, it was natural for her to think where this was going.  Was I going to keep going?  Was HRT in my future?  Were hormones?  What was next?  For years she lived with this uncertainty.  This changed our relationship.  I shared my secret, but now she had a secret to keep, too.  Not only did I have the normal feelings when I went out (someone seeing me, getting harassed), but now she did too.

Change is not always bad.  This side of me helped our relationship too.  I’ll expand on that in a future post.

I am not an expert on relationships.  Every relationship is different.  I am not an expert on being trans, every transperson is different.  A relationship with a transperson is not an easy thing.

What I am an expert on is keeping this part of me a secret.  Well, I suppose if I was an expert on secrets I wouldn’t have a public blog with a zillion photos of me on it, but I think you get my point.  I suspect you are an expert on this too.  We know what it’s like to keep this a secret.  We have kept this a secret for a long time.  We need to remember how it feels to keep this a secret.

If we remember how it feels to have this secret, then we will know how it feels for our significant other to know this secret, too.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

 

Ask Hannah!

Has Hannah affected your relationship with your wife?  Has your wife seen Hannah? Has she had “girls nights in” with Hannah? How does she feel about Hannah?  How has her relationship with Hannah evolved since your early  days of blogging?

I could probably write (and maybe I should) a book about the dynamics and evolution and impact that crossdressing/being transgender has on a relationship, but I will try to keep this concise.

Being who we are is likely hard on our partners.  This is not a part of us that will change or go away, so we will never “outgrow” this part of us, this is not a phase we are going through.  Too many of us try to suppress this part of us when we meet someone and start a relationship because we don’t want to scare this person away by revealing this part of us.

But of course no matter how hard we try to deny it, this is who we are and we shouldn’t try to do that.  What we should do is be honest with ourselves and be honest with our partners.  I get emails from people like us who tell me that they don’t plan on telling their partners about this side of them until after they’re married.  Their thinking is that it’s too late for them to go anywhere.  This is hurtful, cruel, unfair and dishonest.

I told my wife about this part of me after a few months of dating, once I knew I wanted to marry her.  I’ve come out to a few partners in my life when I felt the relationship was strong and serious enough.  At the time I came out to her, I felt that this was all about under-dressing and I didn’t have a “male mode” or a “female mode”.  I was just a man who wore panties.

But people change and evolve.

After we’d be married for a few years, she asked if I ever wore makeup or clothes other than lingerie.  I had, but never really to the point of a full makeover or head to toe with a wig and heels.  She did my makeup that night and helped me order a wig.  Up to that moment she didn’t really understand why I liked lingerie but she understood the feeling of wanting to be beautiful.

I started to buy dresses with her help.  My wardrobe grew and our relationship now had a new part of it.  We were both learning about Hannah and getting to know her.  We had constant and honest communication about what… all this meant.  There were times where she was concerned about me wanting to transition and where all this was leading to.  Those concerns faded over time.

It’s easy to understand her concern.  I went from wearing panties to doing my makeup and having a closet full of heels in a few months.  My evolution accelerated and it was like going from a nice leisurely drive to a million miles per hour.  But eventually I stopped my gender exploration and landed where I am today and her concerns about me wanting to transition subsided.

This part of me has allowed me to be more open, honest, vulnerable and transparent with my wife.  Not only as Hannah, but as in my male side as well.  This took a lot of patience on her part and a lot of effort to try to understand me.  It took a lot of time, sometimes difficult communication and open and honest conversations.

So yes, she has seen Hannah.  We both met her at the same time, in a way.  We’ve had many girls nights in, whether it was a nice quiet night in wearing leggings or me rocking an amazing gown with winged eyeliner.

My wife and I used to feel that Hannah and my male side were two very different people.  Of course, we have very different wardrobes but over time Hannah and I have kind of… well, balanced out.  Hannah would tend to be more relaxed and chatty whereas I was more preoccupied with whatever was going on or needed to be done.  I don’t relax much, but our girls nights in gave me a chance to dress up and slow down and watch a movie or sit and talk.  My wife and I don’t feel there’s as much of a difference between my two genders (besides physician appearance and presentation) as there used to be.

I make all of this sound very easy and idyllic, but as with any relationship things are always more complicated and nuanced than it sounds.  I am lucky to have my wife for many reasons, not only because of this.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

Ask Hannah!

I’m a married man that crossdresses. My wife knows about it. I’ve been crossdressing for quite some time now and the one thing I’ve always wanted to do is go out in public. My wife is not ok with me going in public all dressed up. I was wondering if you have any advice for that.

Yes, my advice is to listen to her.

Relationships and…what we do and who we are, are not easy.  Some of us have partners that participate and help us shop or put together an outfit or hit the mall with us.  Some of us have a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” policy, some relationships are very tense due to this, and some of us haven’t come out to our significant others.

Telling our partners (mind, I use the term telling our partners as opposed to being caught by our partners) can be a huge weight of our shoulders.  We need to be honest with ourselves and with our partners.  I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s the truth.  And we need to have these conversations when the relationship get serious.  Not after you move in with them, not after you get engaged, not after you get married.  Before.  Before any of that.

Keeping something as big as this a secret is almost suffocating.  But we need to tell our partners.  It’s better to be up front with this than it is to be caught.  Once this secret is out, then we need to conscious of how they will react to this.  They are coming to grips with this, too.

And yes, once you come out to your partner, they will likely set boundaries.  Sometimes it’s not telling the kids or telling anyone else, or not posting photos or not chatting with anyone online or not leaving the house.

Sometimes boundaries can be a small price compared to stress of keeping a secret.  Out of respect for your wife, respect these boundaries.  She is dealing with this, too.  Be respectful of her and her feelings and her request.

If you go behind her back, you run the risk of losing her trust.  And nothing is worth that.

Love, Hannah

 

Ask Hannah!

I’m in a sexless marriage. I started to dress a while ago because it makes me feel special. Are there any places near Ann Arbor Michigan that I can talk to ?

I would encourage you and your spouse to seek out counseling when it comes to your marriage.

I would also recommend reaching out to PFLAG, who, according to their website, unites people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) with families, friends, and allies, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education, and advocacy. PFLAG has 400 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas in all 50 states.

There are chapters all across the country, including one in Ann Arbor.

Take care.

Love, Hannah

So, This Happened…

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

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

I saw my mom.

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

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

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

 

I could have pressed, but I respected her feelings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

unnamed

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

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

Love, Hannah

Ask Hannah!

Dear Hannah,

I came out to my wonderful, selfless near saintly wife of 18 years. She knows what transgender is just not who it is. What I know is that she loves me and that will not change :):):)
It can be delicate for a while. Both of us just letting it digest. This can take overnight or it could take years (this would be a mutual denial) This is my greatest fear. The girl wants out and she wants to be acknowledged. To just go into a holding pattern would be worse then internalizing it.
Support groups? Books? Therapist? ( OK, I have one)
Any advice?

-Valerie

Coming out to anyone, especially your significant other is probably one of the hardest things we will ever do.  I’m sure it wasn’t easy and I’m glad you did it.  It’s always better for us to come out as opposed to being caught.  I get at least one email a week from a significant other of a crossdresser or t-girl who pour their hearts out because they caught their boyfriend, fiance or husband or discovered their wardrobe.  Many times it’s not about the clothes, it’s about the lying and not being honest with them.

I know it’s not easy, but I urge you all to please, please tell your significant other about this side of you before get married or live with each other.  I know it’ll be hard, but you owe it to them.

But I digress.

When you come out to someone, especially a significant other, it’s easy to let things get out of hand.  For many of us we have kept this part of ourselves secret for so long that it’s a relief to talk to someone about it.  It’s possible we’ve never talked about this to anyone else and soon our experiences, desires and secrets just pour out.  This can be very overwhelming.  The person you came out to is still processing this information and when you add more to it, it can be a lot to take in.  Take it slow.

When it comes to what’s next, well, that’s up to you.  What do you want to do?  What do you currently do?  Do you dress at all?  With my wife I did not go from coming out to dressing completely in a couple days.  It took time for both of us to adjust.  It started with her seeing panties in my dresser and her getting used to that.  Then sleeping in a nightgown and so on.  It was about four years after I came out before I was in a dress, makeup and a wig.  I didn’t always make the right decisions during this time and I got lost in the pink fog a lot, but my wife is an incredible person and she was always honest and direct with me with what she was thinking, feeling as well as what she was and wasn’t comfortable with.

Don’t be surprised if this is two steps forward and one step back for a while.  Don’t fight her if she asks you to not dress up for a few days…or weeks or around her.  If she sets limits or boundaries, respect and honor them.  You mention you have a therapist, perhaps you may consider a couples session where the two of you attend to discuss this part of you.  She may also need someone to talk to independent of you and I would recommend PFLAG, a wonderful organization that provides, among other things, support groups for our friends and families.

Good luck!

Love, Hannah