Testing the Waters

When I met my wife, I knew I would need to tell her about… everything.

I was in my early thirties when we started to date and I knew who I was, I knew this was not a phase, I knew I was not going to outgrow this side of me.  I believe in full disclosure in relationships and it was only fair that she knew everything about me.  It also stressed me out keeping something, especially this, from her.  I knew that this was sometimes a deal-breaker in relationships and she needed to know as soon as possible.

The longer we dated, the more urgent the need to tell her grew.  So, one summer night I told her everything.  At this point in my life it was only about underdressing.  I wore lingerie and besides a few pairs of heels (I needed something to wear with my lingerie, after all), that was all I owned.

I insisted that lingerie was the extent of my dressing.  I told her this because it was true, but I also wanted to assure her that this was not the start of something bigger.  I knew that one of the biggest fears our partners have is that one day we want to transition or that we are unhappy in our current gender identity.

….and now we fast-forward a few years.

I remember my wife’s shaky smile as she tried to be supportive and happy for me the first time I wore a wig and full makeup.  I remember her laughing off how my shoe collection exceeded her own.  I remember the nervous conversations when she confessed how she was afraid of where this was going.  She married me, she didn’t want to lose me.  This was not something she anticipated having to adapt to in a relationship.

It’s not uncommon for our partners to feel afraid that they are losing their husbands to another women when that other woman is us.  For me, lingerie led to makeup, then dresses, then to a wig, then to a name, then to a website, then to going out…

Where was all this going?

It felt as if with every step I was testing the waters.  Every step I took felt right and made me happy.  I had never felt I was missing something in my life that I found through dressing and exploring my gender identity, but each new step just felt natural.  I thought that with each new level, if you will, was where I would stop.  I didn’t think I would have a name, until I did.  I didn’t think I wanted to go out of the house, until the pull of experiencing the real world became too hard to resist.  It became harder for either of us to believe that I was stopping anytime soon.

And then I did.

Although I would go onto starting the MN T-Girls, refining my look, and expanding my online presence, my “journey” ended.  There was no next level that I felt compelled or interested in exploring.  If anything I got to know this side of me better and grew more confident as Hannah.

If the life of a t-girl were a movie, the third act would likely see them talking to a doctor about hormones and coming out to others in their life, but I never had any sort of desire to explore that.  I have friends (in both gender identities) that have transitioned.  I listen to their stories and I don’t feel like that’s my path.  They tell me what they feel, and I don’t feel that way.  They tell me about the conversations with their therapists and doctors and those are not talks I feel I need to have.

And full disclosure, I have seen therapists before for reasons having nothing to do with my gender identity.  I bring it up though, just to talk it out and through these conversations there was never any feeling I was repressing something or in denial about who I was or what I wanted.

Looking back, it felt like I went very quickly from progressing from underdressing to where I eventually landed, but it wasn’t easy for my wife.  Even when I stopped going to the next level, my wife worried for years I would want something more.  Not that I was in denial about who I was or keeping something from her, but when you see your spouse go from panties to strutting out the door to hit the mall, they may wonder if we want anything more.

I don’t blame her.  These days I regret how scared and lonely she felt during this time.  I wish I had done more to assure her, but when your husband is dressed to kill in a wig to stilettos and everything in-between, it’s not easy to let that fear go.

What helped ease her mind was time and me being honest with her.  If she were to find that I was secretly having conversations with my doctor about hormones I would have lost her trust and all credibility.  We need to be as transparent as a mesh nightgown.

When I think back to that summer night when I insisted that the extent of my dressing started and ended with lingerie, I do not think I was in denial or lying to her or to myself.  I had tried on dresses before and previous experiences with makeup did nothing for me, so I thought that I gave them a chance but it wasn’t for me.  Of course, experimenting with makeup with no training or tutorials is going to lead to a frustrating and unfulfilling experience.  When my wife did my makeup for the first time it was a whole new world.

I loved how I looked.  I was as surprised as I could be.  I wanted a dress.  Then I wanted a wig.  We looked at a few online and a few days later, it arrived in the mail.  The first time I dressed completely was the start of who I am today.

And that start was the beginning of my wife’s fears.

She went from hearing her boyfriend open up about wearing panties to a new woman in her living room in just a few years.  It was not easy for her.  At one point she was told that there was nothing beyond lingerie to a closet steadily filling up with little black dresses.

The only way we know where our journey will take us is by exploring different paths.  The only way we know where our limits are is to test them.  The only way we can get to know this side of us is by doing.

At one point I didn’t think I would want a femme name.  At one point I didn’t think I would want to go out.  But it turns out I did, I just didn’t know it until I tried.  It never felt wrong or disingenuous to have a femme name.  Going out into the real world was just was wonderful and fulfilling as I could have wanted.

Many of us are scared to dress.  Many of us are in denial about who we are and what we want to wear.  I think for many of us that fear comes from not knowing where it will end.  It’s not unrealistic to think that a pair of panties could eventually lead to transitioning, I mean, changing your gender identity has to start somewhere, after all.  But you won’t know until you try.  I know many t-girls who dress but don’t want to wear a wig.  Or makeup.  Some even keep their male name.  They have tried femme names or eyeliner but just wasn’t for them.  I have a good friend that dresses and wears makeup but still refers to themselves with their male name and male pronouns.  For him, it didn’t feel right to call himself ‘her’.

The only way for us to know where all of this will eventually land is to try the next level.  Right now you may be all about lingerie like I was, but you won’t know until you try dresses or proper clothes.  I am not saying you need to or should, but when you come out to someone, I absolutely believe you need to know where all of this is going, if it’s going anywhere.

And that’s the point of this.

When we come out to someone, we owe them the truth.  We need to let them know where we stand (in heels or not) and what we want.  We owe ourselves the truth as well.  We all know what we mean when we talk about our journeys, and exploring gender presentation and gender identity is exactly what that means.

When we come out to someone we will get the typical questions.  Do you want to transition?  Are you gay?  Are you unhappy as a man?  Do you want hormones?

These questions are often paired with the unasked questions, especially with our partners.  Are you in denial with who you are?  Are we going to divorce in two years because you want to transition?  Am I in a relationship with someone who doesn’t know who they are or what they want?

We need to know ourselves.  Our partners need to know that as well.

Of course, what we want could change over time.  I’m not going to pretend we stay the same.  For some t-girls they realize they are ready for the next level, so to speak, decades later.  That next level could be anything from heels to going out to hormones.  As we learn things about ourselves and what we want in life, it’s essential for us to share these thoughts and desires with our partners.

Thinking about going back to college to change careers?  Tell your partner.  Fantasizing about writing an opera?  Tell your partner.  Daydreaming about a pink dress?  Tell your partner.

One of the worst things we can do is blindside our partner.  We need to do our best to be open and honest with who we are, when we know who we are.  Telling your spouse after five years of marriage that you have always wanted to get a makeover or feel you were assigned the wrong gender at birth is usually avoidable and a little unfair.  Marriage, like any relationship, is a serious commitment, the biggest one in your life, and it’s not fair to go into that commitment without disclosing everything, as hard as it may be to talk about it.  You owe it to them, and to yourself, to know who you are as much as you can.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You

I have hosted parties and organized gatherings in my male life.  I am not a particularly a social person, so for occasions like these I tend to details such as making sure there is enough food and cleaning up.  I try to busy myself and keep moving.  I try to stay out of the way.

It’s not that I don’t like people.  I know and I am related to amazing and wonderful people that I love very much.  But in my male like I am usually very goal orientated and I get a lot of satisfaction out of work.  I like to clean up after a party.  I like when all the laundry is done, folded, and put away.  I like to start things, and I like to finish things.

As I got to know Hannah, I was very surprised at how different she was from the male side of me.  I “met” Hannah at the same time and at the same pace as my wife got to know her.  Letting another gender identity and gender presentation come to the surface is an experience like no other.  You feel a wide range of emotions.  These emotions are usually triggered by what you may be wearing.  For a very long time you were all wingtips and work boots.  Neckties and facial hair.  Now you could be wearing anything from a long blonde wig, to red press-on nails, to a little black dress or your first pair of pumps.  You feel apprehensive, self-conscious, nervous, and a little afraid.  You also feel beautiful.  And happy.  And calm.  And…well, it feels right.

There’s no question that what you wear will likely affect your attitude.  Some cis-women feel silly wearing a dress, some cis-men feel stupid in a tuxedo.  But on the flip side, a bright pink dress or a three-piece suit can bring out a sense of confidence and power out of someone.

The first time, or the hundredth time, you have crossed over to a whole new wardrobe will bring out a new, or a suppressed, or a surprising side of you.  For decades this side of me was a secret.  Yes, I came out to two girlfriends in the past, but that was more about underdressing.  One didn’t want to talk about it and the other was really accepting.  But I identified as a crossdresser at that time.  Panties and nighties were really all I wanted to wear.  There wasn’t much to talk about, it was what it was.

I came out to my wife as a crossdresser a few months after we dated.  Once the first few days after the revelation passed, we didn’t talk about it much.  But once I stepped into the next level, we talked about it all the time.  We talked about it when I wasn’t dressed as well as when I was dressed.  For something that we keep a secret and at the same time desperate to share with someone else, it is usually hard to talk about this part of us.

However, Hannah had no problem opening up.  Sitting in our living room, me dressed in everything from mascara to sky-high heels and sharing a bottle of wine, I had no problem talking about…everything.  How did I feel?  AMAZING.  But a little self-conscious.  I felt beautiful but at the same time I felt a little let down that I didn’t look like Sandra Bullock or Dita Von Teese.

I felt vulnerable but comfortable about my feelings.  I felt exposed.  I mean, here I was wearing a beautiful little black dress and lipstick, presenting a side of me that was a hidden secret that was shoved to the back of a closet for years and years.  And here I was…I was OUT.

When people see your hand, you have to play it.

I gave into her.  I let how I was feeling win.  It sounds pretentious and a little odd, but it was a rebirth or a reincarnation.   Just as my wife was getting to know Hannah, I was too.  I was confident and beautiful, insecure and awkward.  I had amazing insights into gender roles and how I understood how humbling putting on makeup or a dress could be.  I wondered how Hannah would fit into my life.

My wife wondered the same thing.

Those first few months my wife and I learned that Hannah was chatty, relaxed, a bit of a gossip and a Taylor Swift fan.  Hannah brought out parts of my male personality that were there but took a little coaxing, a little wine, and a little eyeliner to bring out.  Hannah was “me” with my guard down.

Hannah was chatty and social at home, she wasn’t always thinking about work or what needed to be around the house.  I was curious, excited, and interested to see who Hannah was in the real world.  Me in the real world is a mission of purpose.  If I go to the mall it’s because I need something.  If I go somewhere, it’s because something needs to be accomplished.

But when Hannah goes to Target, yes, she may need something, but she tends to browse around, look at clothes, and take her time.  Interactions with baristas are chattier and friendlier and go beyond simply ordering a cup of coffee.  Hannah talks to cashiers, people in line, she smiles at people who stare at her as they process seeing a t-girl.

It’s not that I am unfriendly or rude when I present as male.  No, I am someone who does things when they need to be done.  I’ll schedule a morning of errands whereas Hannah will happily spend an afternoon simply wandering around a museum.

I am pretty confident in both of my genders, but Hannah has a level that surprises me.  I suppose she needs that if she is going to strut through the Mall of America wearing stilettos and a bodycon dress.  But that confidence is there online, too.  Hannah has no qualms with reaching out to businesses like Glamour Boutique or The Breast Form Store about modeling or product review opportunities.  Could I ever do something equivalent in my male life?  Could I ever be so bold?  I wonder.

Starting the MN T-Girls was probably one of the most significant points in my life.  On one hand, it requires the organization that I excel at so well at in my male life.  But it takes the confidence that Hannah has when it comes to organizing events.  Hannah confidently reaching out to a lingerie store to arrange for a private shopping event is on a level that I have never come close to in my male life.

The MN T-Girls have events that range from going out to dinner to shopping events to holiday parties.  The group was started to help other t-girls feel comfortable in going out and part of that means making sure everyone feels welcome.  When we open up en femme we all feel vulnerable and guarded, but we will also start to let our defenses down.  We have all been there.

At these events Hannah is the hostess.  A role I never thought I would have.  At the annual holiday party she talks to everyone and tries to make everyone feel welcome.  At similar events in male mode I am happy to be more behind the scenes, but Hannah is there in a sequined dress and matching heels shining as bright as a mirror ball.  Hannah is on a social level I never dreamed I, in any gender, could ever be.

At first, my two genders were very different from one another, but over time the best parts of Hannah, the ability to talk about my feelings and thoughts, and her social tendencies spilled over to my male life.  It’s not inaccurate to say that Hannah brings out the best in me, in both sides of me.

Of course, all of this sounds like a psychologist’s dream.  I understand that.  We all have different sides to us.  We all are a little different in different situations.  I am different, in subtle and significant ways, when I am interacting with my work colleagues or having dinner with friends.  How I am dressed impacts my behavior in a way, too.  I tend to be more serious and reserved in a suit and more relaxed in jeans and a t-shirt.

It’s not that much of a stretch to see how being dressed in heels and a skirt can bring out a side of us that a polo shirt and khakis can’t.  Hannah wandering around Sephora with her friends is a different “me” than me trying to find a belt or whatever at Sears.

Although this all may come off as a reason to be examined for having multiple personalities, every t-girl reading this knows exactly what I mean.

What we wear can affect how we feel.  How we feel determines how what we do.  In any gender.  I can’t make it simpler than that.

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

 

SEX

Now that I have your attention…

Accepting yourself and identifying as transgender is one of the most significant and life-changing moments you will ever experience.  This acceptance can lead to feeling anxious, feeling free, feeling burdened, feeling confused, or even just feeling relieved that we have touched on why we feel what we feel and figured out who we are.

This embracing of yourself will often lead to the question of what’s next.  Okay, you’re trans, this is more than just about wearing panties, what do you do now?  The short and bitchy answer is, well, anything you want.  You can go fishing if you so desire.  Being transgender is not like building a bookshelf from Ikea.  There is no clear step two.   There may not even be a step two.  You don’t even have to do anything next.  Well, you should have a conversation with your partner, of course.

But there usually is a next step.  We usually want to…well, keep going.  We learned and accepted something huge about our gender identity and it’s normal to keep going in that direction.  It’s not much different than being on an airplane and not getting off when it lands.  For some of us we want to try other clothes.  That dresser full of lingerie might be a start of a new wardrobe.  We own a dress…but maybe we should find a cute pair of heels to go with it.  Maybe the next step is seeking support from a group or a therapist or counselor.  Maybe it’s time to talk to a doctor or your family.  Maybe you are ready to schedule that makeover.

Or maybe you don’t do anything.  You don’t HAVE to do anything next.  You don’t have to do anything right away.  For some of us we lived with the conflict or uncertainty of who we were for decades.  It took a long time to get to the point where we accepted that we are transgender.  But making decisions too quickly and without thinking things through is a bad thing.  Beware the pink fog.

Acceptance of yourself is more important than passing.  Mainly because accepting yourself is real and passing is not.  If I waited to experience the real world until I “passed” I would still be sitting in my car in the garage.  When I think about everything I have experienced or done over the last few years it makes me so happy that I opened the door, strutted out and never looked back.  It makes me wonder what else I missed before I was convinced I needed to pass.  I never passed.  Still don’t.  Never will.

Once you accept yourself and start experiencing the world presenting as your preferred gender (and this can be your preferred gender for the day or for the rest of your life), you have grown more powerful than ever before, even if your knees are knocking and you shake in the heels that you practiced walking in for weeks.  You will interact with the world and the world will react to you.  This will result in varying outcomes, some wonderful, most of them mundane and unremarkable…but there will be some that will break your heart and some that will make you angry.  Some will make you want to go home and never leave again.  All of these things will happen.  Sometimes in the same afternoon.  Yes, someone will likely give you a dirty look but remember, this will never be okay.  Don’t let some jerk steal your sparkle.

Whether you are dressed from head to toe in wig and heels or in male mode with painted nails, when you are outside the traditional social gender norms you will experience the world in a new way.  And you will likely want more.  I know I did.  The first real time I went out during the day it was just to experience something as every day as getting a coffee.  But that went well and I wanted to do something more.  So I did.  A trip to Target, a couple of malls, more coffee shops…

Over the last few years I have done so many things I never thought I would be brave enough to attempt.  Whether it was a makeover or a trip to the mall to try on dresses or attending a Pride festival, I’ve experienced more than I ever thought possible.  There’s very little left that I can think of that I still want to do.  Some of these things I did because I simply wanted to see what it was like to shoe shopping en femme.  No surprise, but it was a lot more fun.

The point is that many of us want to experience things en femme.  This can range from everything from watching a movie at home dressed to the nines, doing laundry in leggings to wearing a negligee during sex.

So, let’s talk about sex and the t-girl.

This is a very intimate, serious, and sensitive subject.  There is nothing more personal than the sexual relationship between two people.  Obviously I am not going to share anything about my own experiences here or…ever.  Instead I want to talk more broadly about what many in our community and their partners have shared with me regarding their experiences.

I go back and forth as to whether or not I wear what I wear because I am transgender or I am transgender because I wear what I wear.  I think kind of a gateway to something new and something bigger.  Perhaps something fascinating and forbidden.  It was ingrained in us at early age that boys do not wear bras or nightgowns which only fuels the curiosity, intrigue, and longing.  Lingerie is a beautiful secret that you wear.  Going to the office wearing lacy panties and matching bra under your suit is really kind of amazing.  Its something you wear for yourself…or possibly for someone else.  Someone might wear sexy undies to bed because they like it, or they wear it because their partner likes it.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that there are some who dressing up is nothing more than fetish and is completely sexual.  Simply put, dressing turns them on, they wear lingerie (or whatever) when they want to…ah, well, you know.  They dress up, they have sex, or masturbate and…that’s that.  Until the next time.  Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with this.  You do you, I guess.  But like anything sexual between two people, both have to be on board.

It is not unheard of that a t-girl wanting to wear lingerie in intimate moments.  Lingerie might help someone feel beautiful no matter what they are doing, during sex or simply under your clothes when you go grocery shopping.  Someone wearing a lacy nightie to bed is something they are doing for themselves, and possibly for their partner.  However, t-girls need to be aware that surprising their partner by doing something similar can be… well, it probably won’t go as planned, especially the first time.

This is one of those moments that both partners involved want to avoid.  Nothing derails a moment like an awkward (to say the least) surprise.  This is something that should be discussed before it happens, especially if going outside traditional gender norms regarding clothes is new to the relationship.  Don’t tell your wife you are a crossdresser on Friday and then greet her in the bedroom on Saturday wearing a corset and stockings. (Unless she asks, of course.)  Communication between a couple is important and it’s never more evident than when it comes to intimacy, fantasies, and what happens in bed.  Or the living room, if you are so inclined.

Many t-girls and crossdressers want to experience things as a different gender identity.  Sometimes it’s going shopping en femme and sometimes it’s being intimate en femme.  This is not uncommon.  However, your wife being okay with you wearing panties under your work clothes is not the same as her being okay with you wearing them in an intimate moment.  You should not assume she will be.

The best, and only way to know what your partner is comfortable with in the bedroom (or anywhere) is to ask.  Tell them what you want to try, what you want to wear.  If they are not comfortable with it, then drop it.  It may be hard to let go of a fantasy or a desire, but…drop it.  Move on.  Seriously.  If they change their mind they will let you know.  You don’t need to ask again.  Drop it.

If you partner is receptive to you dressing in bed, wonderful.  Their feelings are still something you need to be conscious of.  Maybe she wants to be the pretty one in bed sometimes.  Maybe leave the lingerie in your drawer once in a while.  She may feel intimidated by your matching bra, garter belt, panties and stockings when all she has on is a simple teddy.  She may not want to have sex with a woman.  She might want to have sex with her husband.  Again, beware of the pink fog.  Sometimes it clouds our judgment, sometimes we choose to let it cloud our judgement.  I think you know what I mean.

We know being in a relationship with someone like us is not easy.  This is part of that.  Be kind.  Be generous.  Be worth it.

Driving a car is different in heels, having sex in heels (among other things) is different too.  Some crossdressers and t-girls may, well, take on a different role.  Or different behaviors.  They may want different positions, accessories, different role-playing scenarios…  Some want to be called their female name.  Sometimes these changes are a turn on for our partner…sometimes it isn’t.  You and your wife watching a movie while you are dressed up is not the same thing as you being in bed en femme with her.  Don’t assume your partner is okay with “her” in your living room and the bedroom.  Again, communication.  Both verbal and non-verbal.  Pay attention.  If your partner is communicating something to you, don’t ignore it.  Don’t pretend that you aren’t picking up on it.  Communicate.  Before.  After.  During.

If gender is…well, flexible, then it stands that sexuality can be as well.  Some t-girls say they are straight in male mode but bisexual as a girl.  Some are attracted to men when they dress up, or at least that’s when they admit it.  Dressing en femme can bring about different feelings.  Different aspects or parts of our personality can appear when we are wearing certain clothes.  Some men feel confident in a certain suit, some feel a sense of hometown pride when their wear their team’s football jersey.  Some guys get a boost of confidence from a pair of expensive sneakers.  When I am dressed I feel different, too.  I don’t feel like sleeping with a man, but I feel more social, chattier, and braver.

There are those who feel the attention from men helps them feel more like a woman.  The attention validate them.  It’s flattering to some.  Some t-girls and crossdressers want to experience as many things as they can en femme and for some that includes having, or fantasizing about, sex with men.

To the partners out there, yes, I know this is a fear.  It’s hard enough finding out your beer drinking, Fantasy Football playing man likes to dress up, but the fear that they might want to be with another guy is a different level.  There is nothing more important than trust between two people, and many partners entered into committed relationships without the full disclosure of their partner’s gender identity.  It’s not uncommon to feel betrayed, deceived, or mislead.  There’s no excuse for lying.

Will your partner want to be with a man?  Maybe?  Sexual and romantic preference and gender identity have little in common, so while it’s understandable to worry that they will want to be with another male because they wear lingerie in bed, it’s not necessarily the same thing.  I do not believe it is inappropriate to ask your partner this question.  Your partner coming out as a crossdresser or transgender or as someone who likes to dress up every once in a while will trigger a lot of questions, feelings, and confusion.  You are trying to process this.  This is likely new territory for you.  Ask us anything you want.

I know its not easy.  I know it can be…shocking, off-putting, a mood killer, even heartbreaking and devastating to see your man in a corset and panties.  It’s a lot to take in.  This doesn’t mean you aren’t supportive of the LGBTQIA community.  You fight for equality and love your gay friends, but seeing your spouse in a garter belt is a little different.  You choose your partner for many different reasons.  You choose them because of their personality, sense of humor, interests, and probably because of their appearance.  You were, and hopefully still are, attracted to them.  Seeing someone you love in a dramatically different gender presentation, whether it is everything from wig to those cute bedroom heels or them wearing a simple nightgown takes some time.  It may take a few minutes or it may takes years or it may never happen.  And that’s okay.  Tell them how you feel.  You can be an ally and a fighter for the community even when you struggle with your emotions and thoughts regarding your partner’s gender identity.  Your feelings count too.  And you will have feelings about this.

You may feel that this isn’t the person you married.  We insist we are.  Many of us tell our partners that whether we are wearing lingerie or a suit that we are still the same person.  I don’t think this is necessarily true.  Coming out and accepting yourself changes someone.  We feel braver but at the same time we are feeling more vulnerable.  We just shared something that for decades was a secret.  This becomes an elephant in the room.  In the days, weeks, and months ahead this hangs over the pair of you.  It can create tension, stress, and unspoken thoughts.  Resentment, albeit temporary, is not unheard of.  It can consume both you and partner.  While you might be trying to not to think about it, we might be dying to talk about it.  We may want to ask for help with shopping or applying eyeliner.  We want our partners to go out with us.  We want to share this side of us with the most important person in our life.  We have been wanting to tell you since the day we met.  We have for years kept this side of us private and now we are ready to slam the pedal to the metal.

But we lived with the secret for years.  Our partners need time to catch up.  They cannot go as fast as we are ready to.  We feel we are the same person regardless of how we are dressed…because this is who we have been our entire lives.  But we have just revealed another side of us, the biggest side of us and it’s understandable that others in our lives might look at us in a different light, at least for a while.

Our partners are processing this.  And it’s not easy for us to be patient as they do that.  We are wondering what they are thinking and the reality is that they are thinking a million things.  Or they might be trying to not think about it.  They can’t always express just exactly what they are feeling or going through.  Your partner looks and thinks of you differently.  You have something about you that they never suspected.  They may have thought there was…something about you that they couldn’t quite put their finger on, but this probably wasn’t what they imagined.

I felt different when I came out to my wife, my mom, and my siblings.  I wasn’t the same person.  It was a feeling of…well, like there was a new reality.  They knew about me, they knew the half of me that was a secret that I kept every single day up until that point.  It was awkward, it was uncomfortable at times.  I gave them space and was honest with their questions.  We can do no less for our partners.

Think back to when you’ve come out to someone.  Life all of a sudden felt different, didn’t it?  You feel different.  You might feel a weight has been lifted or that you turned the world inside-out.  My point is that we might think we are the same person before and after we come out.  We might think we are the same person whether we are in jeans or a nightgown.  But we know we are not.

Finding a balance between more than one gender identity is not easy but it can be done.  We need to find that balance in our own lives, but we also need to make sure the balance works (as much as it can work) for our partners.  It might not.  I am not going to suggest that every marriage will be able to make it work.  In many relationships this is not what our partners signed up or what they expected.  If your partner does not want this in their relationship it does not make them a bad person.  This is a lot to ask of someone and it’s a reminder why it is important and necessary to come out to your partner before the relationship gets serious.

Finding a personal balance varies from person to person.  We might want to dress up three times a week, but that might be too much for your partner.  It’s not that different (but it’s also totally different) than you if you wanted to go out for beers with the guys after work several times a week.  Be considerate of your partner’s feelings.  Be there with them.  Be present.  Be worth it.

All the time.

In every room of the house.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coloring Outside the Lines

I have FABULOUS eyebrows.

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Yes, I love how I look.  Yes, I know it gets annoying.  But I work hard to have the body that I have.  Are there parts I wish I could change?  Sure, but as I get older I find it harder to think of what those changes could be.  Ten years ago I would have loved to be eight inches shorter, my shoulders less broad and my hands smaller but I don’t believe in passing and I am beautiful no matter how tall I am.  (I do wish I could wear a smaller shoe size so I could expand my heels collection, but you can’t win them all.)

I take care of my skin, I moisturize, and I exfoliate.  I do this because my skin is, well, skin is important.  A good makeover starts with good skin.  You need to take care of your skin at all times, not just the day of a makeover.  Your dentist knows if you just start flossing two days before your check-up.  Your makeup artist knows when you started to exfoliate.

Corrie Dubay of Femme Makeovers has written about skin care in her newsletter and she has kindly given permission to reprint her writings.  You can (and should) read them here.

Many men regard skin care as a “girl” thing.  Now, I have noticed that many men also have skin so the idea that taking care of your skin is something that only women do is kind of baffling to me.  Like leggings, clean and healthy skin that is well taken care of feels amazing and, like leggings, is something too many men won’t ever experience.

Taking care of my skin is something that both of my genders benefit from.  It helps with shaving and ingrown hairs and makes it easier to apply foundation.

There may be things that many of us want to do with our skin, our bodies, and our wardrobe that we are hesitant to do because it might leave, well, let’s call it evidence, of our femme side.  Skin care is not one of those things, however.  I don’t think anyone looks at my pores and thinks that I have beautiful dresses in my closet because I take care of my skin.

I also don’t care most people think.  It’s easy to not care what others think when you don’t actually know what others think.

Accepting yourself goes hand in hand with giving no regard to what others might think about you.  But for those of us in relationships our partners and their feelings are important and must be taken into consideration.  You might not care if anyone notices leftover traces of your bright red nails while you are in male mode, but your wife might not be comfortable with that.

In male mode I never really liked my eyebrows.  They were thick, bushy and curly and were growing closer with each passing year.  But I never really noticed them until I started wearing makeup and realized at how much they stood out.  Do you need to have pencil-thin eyebrows to be a woman?  To be beautiful?  Of course not.  There are no expectations or standards one must meet to identify as female.  Eyebrows are also one of those things that have trends that come and go pretty frequently.  My eyebrows might be stylish today but might be soooooo 2018 in a couple of days.

I like to keep my eyebrows well-maintained.  It drives me crazy when they look unruly as the stray hairs start to grow back.  There’s really no getting around the fact that if you do start to shape, thin and/or arch your brows they will look more feminine which is exactly the effect some of us are going for.  I get my brows threaded (google or youtube it), but you can also have them waxed.  If you decide to have a professional groom your brows, tell them what you want.  When I get my brows done, I ask the technician to clean them up, but I can also ask them to define them, shape them and thin them…either by a little or by a lot.  They are professionals, and trust me, you won’t be the first man to ask for a little definition in your brows.

However, the truth is that most men do not groom and trim their eyebrows, so it’s quite likely yours will be noticed when in male mode…but it is not very likely that anyone will say anything.  How often do you discuss someone’s eyebrows with them?

Has anyone ever mentioned my eyebrows to me?  Yes.  When I am getting makeovers the artist will often tell me that I have fabulous brows.  Has anyone commented on them while presenting in male mode?  Yes, but only from girls.  Girls notice things.  Girls appreciate a good brow.  If the girl at Starbucks notices them, you can bet your wife’s sister does too, however.  More on that later.

I know, the idea of shaping your brows can give you the look you want in girl mode, but it also will change your appearance in male mode.  Will people notice?  The short answer is probably.  They might.  Will people care?  Maybe?  But why would they?  I don’t care what your brows look like.  I care about mine, no one else’s.  I suspect you are the same.  Will they say something? Probably not.  How many times in your life have you come up to someone and said something about their eyebrows?

The point is that people might notice, they might care, but you’ll probably never know what they think.  It’s highly unlikely they’ll say something and I doubt many of us ask others about their opinions on our eyebrows.

So, pluck, wax, and thread away.  If you want.  You don’t have to do anything extreme.  You don’t have to do anything at all.  A simple and subtle arch and grooming can make a lot of difference.  Corrie also has written about eyebrow options here.

In addition to me loving my brows, I also have legs for days.

 

I promise all of this will come together.

I love my legs.  I work hard to have the legs that I have.  I am very tall and although I was initially bothered at how my height prevented me from blending in better, I realized that having long legs is worth it.  I like keeping my legs in shape and three hours a week on the Stairmaster at the gym helps me do that.

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I’ve been shaving my legs for years now and it’s hard for me to remember having hairy legs.  I remember the first time I shaved them, however.  It was AMAZING.  Pro tip: if you do start shaving your legs you may want to give them a quick run with a pair of electric clippers first.

At first I was nervous about having smooth legs (and eventually arms) and was worried about what people would think and say.  But no one said anything.  I don’t know what people think because I don’t ask them what they think.  Notice a pattern?  Shaving my legs, like my fabulous eyebrows, are not a typical conversation topic.  People usually have more to worry about than my grooming routine, or at least I hope they do.

But shaving your legs and arms and arching your brows are not things guys typically do.  It’s naive to think no one will notice.  It’s not likely anyone will say anything, though.  The first time you talk to someone after having your eyebrows waxed you will probably feel as if everyone is staring at you.  They might be.  They might be looking at your face and realizing something has changed but they are not sure what.  Or they know but are processing it.  They may say something, but in my experience they probably won’t.

And if they do?  If someone says to me that I have great eyebrows I tell them thank you.  99% of the time the conversation stops there.  What else is there to say?  If someone asks me if I shave my legs I tell them I bike a lot.  Which is true.  It helps with keeping my legs looking shapely.   But no one asks.  I don’t think people think twice about it.

You are under no obligation to explain or apologize to anyone… unless you have a partner.  Want to shave your legs?  Sure, it’s your body, but we need to keep our partner’s feelings in consideration.  We will likely feel a little paranoid that everyone is staring at your newly groomed eyebrows…but your wife is likely feeling just as on edge as you are.

Probably more.

I underdress all the time.  Underdressing is a way to stay connected to that part of me that is beautiful when I am in boy mode.  A cute pair of lacy undies with a pink bow on them is about as femme as you can get when it comes to clothing.  But there are other things that I wear that do not scream GIRL as loud as a pair of panties.

As a boy I am very much a t-shirt and jeans person.  Hannah is very much a heels, stockings, winged eyeliner and a dress to kill kind of girl.  I have boy t-shirts and jeans and I have girl t-shirts and jeans.  Hannah doesn’t wear the girl tees and jeans, but I do in male mode.

I feel obligated to reiterate that I do not think that clothes are for boys or girls.  Heels and…uh, football jerseys, I guess, are for all of us.  When I say boy jeans and girl shirts I am referring to what part of the store that you can find these items in.

There’s no question that girl jeans tees are softer.  True, they are cut differently and have like no pockets, but I think they are simply more comfortable to wear.  Same with girl tees.  The necklines are different and the sleeves might be shorter but they do not feel as course as the boy version.

Some cis-women I know get frustrated about the endless options of jeans and shirts.  Want a black t-shirt?  Great!  Target has a zillion options.  Some are the cold-shoulder look, some have mid-length sleeves, some have a mesh overlay on top, some have an open back and require a different bra style with them.  And jeans are not easier.  Skinny, boyfriend, boot length and countless others.

If I need boy clothes it takes about thirty seconds of shopping and I’m done.  It’s easy but it’s also kind of boring.  I love the variety that is available on the other side of the store.  I like girl shirts with a large scoop neck so I can wear a cute cami or tank under it.  I love tees with mid-length sleeves.  But to be fair I am not shopping on that side of the store for any practical reason.  I am not looking for clothes for my everyday wardrobe.  If I lived full-time I would have a different perspective on shopping.

I wear girl jeans on a regular basis, but I do take into consideration what I am doing that day.  Running errands or staying home?  Sure.  Dinner with friends?  Probably not.  Now, I don’t think there are many noticeable differences between my boy jeans and girl jeans… but I might be seeing (or not seeing) what I want (or don’t want) to see.  I don’t get caught up in the pink fog as much as I used to but I recognize that sometimes I tell myself that this pair of jeans or this shirt look less girly than it really does.

Again, I don’t know or care what someone at the mall thinks about my clothes, regardless of what gender I present as.  But I do care that my wife’s friend might notice that my jeans look a little like her jeans.  Again, we need to be considerate of our partner’s feelings.  Someone might not say anything to us, but they might say something to our wife.

Our wives know that someone might notice.  They know someone might say something to them.  Or worse, someone says something behind her back and it becomes gossip.  It’s understandable that she might be terrified of that.  She probably is.  Our partners share the weight of our secret.  It’s not fair to them.  We need to remember that.  We should not take any risks that could potentially embarrass, or worse, our partners.

There are things boys do and there are things boys wear.  There are also things that boys do not do and there are things boys do not wear.  This is silly.  It’s okay to go beyond the typical societal norm and expectations of gender.  Everyone reading this paragraph likely knows that.  We know that it’s okay to color outside the lines, so to speak.  I just wish everyone else knew that, too.