“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
When the pandemic hit and the little things and the big things were impacted, I looked at a lot of aspects to my life. I was reminded how important it as to support small, independent businesses that were affected by the shutdown. I realized I took meeting friends for dinner for granted. And of course, I realized just how important Hannah is to me.
I mean, I AM Hannah, and obviously we should be important to ourselves, but without having the option to get a makeover and spending the day en femme I was reminded how crucial it is to be me, to be all of me.
Being alive, being who we are, is a reason to celebrate. If you have accepted and embraced your gender identity you have accomplished something incredibly significant and special.
Yesterday I had a photo shoot with my friend and photographer of five years Shannonlee. There was no reason for the shoot. It wasn’t to review a dress or a shoe, it wasn’t for En Femme, it was just for fun (not to say shoots for reviews or for En Femme aren’t fun, they are, but you know what I mean). The theme of the shoot, if you will, was to wear a few dresses I have always wanted to wear. The location was the Stone Arch Bridge, one of my favorite places in the world.
Yesterday’s shoot featured several dresses that I never thought I would wear. Two of them had halter straps and one had straps about as thin as dental floss. The point is that my shoulders were as exposed as they could possibly be. A year ago I would have thought this would be impossible.
And I never felt more beautiful, confident, and powerful.
Here’s a bit of a preview of yesterday’s shoot. I hope you like them and I hope you all cast away your doubts and fears about what holds you back, in all aspects of your lives.
I did a lot of shopping under quarantine. I thought a lot about what I was going to do, and what I was going to wear once things returned back to normal. Of course, things haven’t returned back to normal and if they do, it probably won’t be for a long time.
One of the dresses I bought I thought of as my “out of lockdown” dress. Something that screamed dressed to kill and I found it at En Femme.
I’m tall. Tall enough where I am asked if I played basketball in high school.
As advantageous as my height would have been when it came to passing a basketball, I always felt my height was a disadvantage when it came to “passing”.
I’m used to being tall. I mean, it happened so gradually. It’s not like I shot up four inches overnight and had to get accustomed to being a new height. Wearing heels, though, that was an adjustment. I never had difficulty walking in heels. It came very easy for me, probably because I really really really wanted to get good at it so I practiced a lot as soon as I had a pair of heels to call my own.
Wearing stilettos at home is one thing, but there is nothing like the sound of heels clicking on a sidewalk. It’s the beautiful everyday music, the soundtrack of femininity. It’s my favorite song. I had longed for years to leave the house en femme, but I always felt too tall to pass, too tall to be a girl.
And then one day I got tired of being in my own house, I was tired of telling myself what I couldn’t do, so I put on a cute black skirt, black stockings, a brightly colored top, a cardigan… and black heels. I clicked my way down sidewalks and the corridors of shopping malls and I haven’t stopped.
I never feel taller in heels. I mean, I feel shorter when I take them off, but I don’t feel like I just stepped onto a ladder when I put them on. Yes, I have to crouch down a little when I look into certain mirrors, but it’s not like “wow, I’m tall”.
I opened the box like opening Christmas presents. I was entranced by the shoe, it’s beauty, it’s… majesty. This was unlike any heel I have ever worn before. I prayed to God they would fit. And thank God the fit and run true to size.
For the first time in my life, I stood up in a pair of heels and finally said “wow, I am really tall”. Six inch platforms will do that for you.
Of course, if you are looking at the picture you may wonder why in the world would need a heel like that. If you are wondering why anyone would need a heel like this, this heel is not for you.
But there are just as many thinking “OMG I need this”. If you think you need this, then you probably do need it. Well, maybe not need but you know what I mean.
How does the shoe feel? Well, it runs true to size, it’s properly balanced, the platform is smooth and it’s just as comfortable walking in them as it feels to stand in them.
But how does it feel to wear them? Honestly? I felt like a goddess. I felt powerful.
Some heels go with anything. Some inspire an outfit. These heels demand something daring, something provocative, something… sexy. God knows I love my leather (and fake leather) and it just seemed appropriate for thee heels. I almost went with fishnets stockings but I decided that the pattern would in a way complete with the criss-cross laces.
Will I wear these heels all the time? Of course not, they are probably the most impractical thing I own. But how they make me feel is indescribable. It is the truest way to embrace my height. If there is another pair of stilettos that screams confidence and demands heads to be turned better than these heels then I haven’t seen them.
These heels are not for the timid. They are not for the shy. They are not for those who want to blend in. This is for the girl who want to be seen, the girl who has confidence to burn.
Thank you to The Breast Form Store for helping me literally rise to new heights of confidence.
The very very first dress I remember wearing was a red dress with white polka dots. Of course, it belonged to my sister but I could never remember her wearing it.
Obviously I loved wearing the dress, and to this day polka dots instantly bring me back to that very special dress. The pattern represents femininity to me and there’s something classic and cute about them.
I was living on my own, I was in a relationship, and I was learning more about my gender identity.
I started to learn how to be an adult, learned what I wanted in a relationship, and how to walk in heels.
I learned my limits, and what I wanted. I learned what I wouldn’t settle for, and how to come to terms with being transgender.
I acknowledged what was holding me back, and whether or not those barriers could be overcome.
One of the most defining moments of my life came when I was driving home from work one summer evening. It was close to midnight, the world was still. It is moments like this that life or God or your inner voice speak to you. It’s up to you to listen.
Sometimes what you need to experience is a moment of clarity, a realization, or music. I had never heard this song on the radio before, and I’ve never heard it played again. If I didn’t own the CD I would almost believe that the song didn’t exist. But it did, thank God.
“Me”, written and performed by Paula Cole really summarized many of my feelings and thoughts that summer. I was not happy in the relationship and felt a little trapped. I was living out of state, and ending the relationship was a little more complicated than simply breaking up. I would need to move back to Minnesota, find a new job, and in a way, admit defeat, on some levels. When you are 20 you chalk up your victories and losses by relationships. My perspective is different these days.
In addition to being in a bad relationship, I couldn’t help but wonder where all of THIS was going. I would buy heels and a dress and then quickly purge in a seemingly endless circle. I knew this side of me wasn’t going away. But how was I going to live with it? Did I want to? Of course I did, but what was life going to be like?
I felt powerless in my relationship, where I lived, and in a way, powerless when it came to my gender identity. It was a difficult but important summer. It was humbling, too. I would buy a dress that wouldn’t fit (know your measurements, girls), look horrific in lipstick, and stumble in stilettos. I wanted to be beautiful but my confidence was lower than ever.
But that warm summer night my perspective changed. The things I wanted, like getting out of the relationship, returning to Minnesota… I could do these things. The only one stopping me was ME. The lyrics hit hard.
I am carrying my voice I am carrying my heart I am carrying my rhythm I am carrying my prayers But you can’t kill my spirit, it’s old and it is strong And like a mountain I’ll go on and on But when my wings are folded The brightly colored moth blends into the dirt into the ground
And it’s me who is my enemy Me who beats me up Me who makes the monsters Me who strips my confidence And it’s me who’s too weak And it’s me who’s too shy to ask for the thing I love And it’s me who’s too weak And it’s me who’s too shy to ask for the thing I love But I love
I am walking on the bridge I am over the water And I’m scared as hell But I know there’s something better Yes I know, yes I know, yes I know, yes I know
I bought the CD the next day and I still listen to this song. It still inspires me.
Having fully embraced who I am today, I am amazed at how much I have overcome and what I have done. I still know my limits, whether it is how long I can stay awake before I start to get really loopy, how many miles a day I can run, or what I am comfortable wearing. I know I don’t “pass” (and there’s no such thing) but I still don’t want to show the more traditionally masculine parts of my body.
So, dresses with thin spaghetti straps were out as they showed off my shoulders. My huge, manly shoulders.
And then the pandemic hit. Things we took for granted were gone, and my time out of the house en femme was gone. Before I go further, I want to recognize that many of what I am thinking, and feeling, and writing about is incredibly shallow and self-centered in comparison to how the pandemic has impacted others.
I would look through my wardrobe and get a little sad about not being able to hit the mall or visit a museum en femme (again, I own my shallowness). I would buy dresses and heels and wonder when I would wear them.
And then I saw a super cute dress. It was unlike what I usually wear… it wasn’t form fitting, a little longer than I normally wear… and the thinnest straps I’ve ever seen. I saw it, I loved it, and I wished I had the courage to wear it.
And then I bought it.
I promised myself that as soon as I could, I would wear this dress the next time I could go out en femme.
I’ve held myself back in my life so many times, and when I got tired of listening to that voice and would do the thing I was afraid of, I was always thrilled to do so. I also wondered why I stood in my own way for so long. It’s true, we are our own enemy sometimes.
I am so excited (and proud of myself) to show the photos Shannonlee and I took that day of the dress. The photo shoot was for a shoe review I did for The Breast Form Store but I couldn’t help but show off this dress… and my shoulders… and confidence.
Of course, the first pair of heels I purchased were black. What is more classic and sexier than black? I was probably twenty years old when a pair found their way into my closet… and then purged lest my girlfriend at the time found them. Thus began my ongoing obsession with heels.
After coming out to my wife while we were dating, this world continued to open up. The purging was behind me, and my wardrobe began to properly grow. Obviously this would include heels. And of course, the first pair to find a permanent home in my closet were a pair of black heels. This time they were patent stilettos, but still, they were black.
Creating a wardrobe is amazing and a lot of work, and it can also be overwhelming. Expanding my shoe collection wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Of course red heels, and heels that sparkled with gold and silver were added to my collection, but I wasn’t sure where to go next.
My wife said that I needed a pair of beige heels. And I thought nothing could be more boring than heels that more or less matched my skin color. When I wore black or red heels, they really stood out. The screamed for attention, which I absolutely wanted (and needed in the early days). I didn’t see the point in beige heels, but I soon added them to my closet. My wife is amazing at putting together an outfit and matching accessories, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt.
And she was right. I found myself wearing my beige heels more often than I expected. I found they were a perfect match for beautiful, spring outfits. They paired perfectly with a yellow dress.
It wasn’t long before my beige heels became my go-to for an outfit if I wasn’t sure which shoes went best with it. They were subtle, they helped dress down a dress in a way, and did the opposite that my red patent heels did: they didn’t scream for attention. The heels didn’t compete with my outfit. They complimented it. Yes, at first glance they weren’t as eye-catching, but this is not a girl who wears flats, so beige allowed me to wear heels but not draw attention from my usually bright, summery dress.
To me, there is nothing beautiful than small attentions to detail. Something that isn’t noticeable at first, but a second glance or looking for a couple moments longer and seeing a really beautiful accessory or an intricate dress pattern is really sexy. A small, subtle thing to reward the person who pays attention to an outfit is one of my favorite things.
They come in a variety of colors, but these heels in beige are exactly what my wardrobe needed.
The best heels inspire an outfit. Many times when I pick out my dress for the occasion I start with the heels I want to wear and I go from the there. When I opened the book and saw the shine from the patent leather, my mind raced. The elaborate criss-crossing is simple but sexy. This is not a pair of heels you simply slip into, they require a commitment, the strap belies a sexiness that rewards the person who catches a glimpse of these seemingly innocent and subtle.
I knew exactly what dress to match these gorgeous heels with… and inspiration like that only comes from the best accessories. I paired these heels with an animal print, low-cut dress with thin straps. I’ve had this dress in my closet for a couple of months waiting for the right moment (and perfect heels) to wear it.
This is a dress that screams confidence, especially for me. I have always, always felt conscious about my shoulders. I have always felt they were too… manly. Wearing a dress with thin straps like this shows them off in a way I have never done before, and the pattern of the dress just… demands to be acknowledged. I myself am not going to turn any heads, but my god, this dress will. This dress will not be ignored.
The heels are not trying to take away one’s attention. The dress is not subtle. The heels are not competing, so to speak, for someone’s eye. But these heels do exactly what I want them to do… they compliment the dress. Yes, the dress is hard to miss, but if you happen to glance down and see my heels, you’ll see a beautiful shine, you’ll see small details, you’ll see a sexy strap wrapped around my ankle. A perfect heel, a subtle stiletto that rewards a careful look.
The heels themselves are gorgeous. They shine, literally. They run true to size, and sizing is always hit or miss when to comes to shoes. The strap is long enough and has enough notches to fasten comfortably without pinching or digging into my skin with each stride. The heel itself is centered perfectly and I never felt unbalanced regardless whether I was standing or strutting.
Simply put, beige heels are a must for my wardrobe, and these heels are exactly what I need. An overlooked color, but an essential one. The criss-cross strap works in beautiful, perfect contrast to such an understated color. And the shine!
Thank you to the Breast Form Store for these absolutely gorgeous heels.
I wanted to share some behind the scenes shot from my photo shoot for En Femme‘s spring and summer line that I did earlier this month. Please note they were taken with an iPhone without the normal touch ups that Shannonlee does.
And! Since they are behind the scenes and taken between shots, please forgive me if I look a little distracted… or tired. 🙂
As shelter-in-place restrictions are eased, we are able to slowly and gradually return to parts of our lives that have been off-limits for a while. I am excited for this for a number of reasons. One would think these restrictions are being phased out because the curve is flattening but that doesn’t seem to be the case, unfortunately. That would be the reason I would be most excited about, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Regardless, I am excited to go out en femme and resume MN T-Girls events and photo shoots. I have a shoot in June for En Femme and another shoot for some amazing stilettos I was sent to review.
Part of my review for the heels will be about matching the shoes with an appropriate outfit. Which mini-dress looks best with a pair of sky-high stilettos, for example. Sometimes the answer is obvious, sometimes this decisions keeps me up at night (not really. Okay, maybe a little).
This side of me has an amazing wardrobe with a zillion different possibilities. On one hand this is wonderful, on the other hand, it can be quite intimidating. Putting together an outfit with everything from earrings to stockings to shoes to a top and making sure it all goes together is a learning curve. I still have a hard time matching a skirt to a top which is one of the reasons I mostly wear dresses.
I’ve been thinking about which dresses I will wear for the shoes over the last few days and I think I have decided on two out of the three, but still considering the final pair. Putting together an outfit is not unlike playing dress up with paper dolls.
Have you found putting together outfits easy? What are some of your fashion rules?
This might be a weird question, but I just passed the anniversary of my biggest milestone, so I wanted to ask you:
In your “journey” (I know you hate that word) as Hannah, what would you say have been your biggest milestones? I have a few that I would happily share in a comment, but I’ll keep this brief… so what are some of the key moments that have defined who Hannah is today?
Congratulations on your milestone!
This is a really good question. Thank you for asking it.
I thought about this for a while and I think this comes down to four key instances.
If I look at who I am as a journey (and yes, I totes hate that word but dammit if it isn’t an appropriate one), then my journey started when I was very young with trying on my mom’s heels, being fascinated my lipstick, dying to try on lingerie, buying my first dress, and so on. I remember progressively going from underdressing to sleeping in a nightgown to learning makeup. All this time I was discovering who I am, and how I wanted to look and what felt right. As we learn makeup and build our wardrobe, we learn what we like and what looks suit us. In many ways, my first real wig was the end of one part of my journey but also the start of another. It was the final part of moving on from identifying as a crossdresser to realizing that all of this was more than just clothes. It was about identity. I didn’t know it at the time, but I should have realized at that moment that I was transgender.
I remember looking into the mirror for who knows how long the first time I was in full makeup, a dress, and a wig. I didn’t look like me, and I was a far cry for what I look l like today, but at that moment I had never felt more beautiful. I realized I had wanted to look and feel beautiful for my entire life. It was one of the happiest moments I can remember.
The second instance was about a year after that. After dressing fully at home and plucking up the courage to go out at night, I was ready to step out during the day. I planned a day where I would wake up early and go into Minneapolis to buy a coffee at a cafe. That was the plan. That was the dream. It was something I did almost every day in male mode, but this, this was something new.
This was significant in many ways as it was the first time I was interacting with the “real world”. I had been out at night a few times to a LGBTQ+ nightclub, but this was my first time at a normal, everyday place and being seen by others outside of the LGBTQ+ community. I had fears of people laughing at me, pointing at me, being harassed, and worse. Thankfully nothing like that happened. I was so ecstatic from the non-eventful reactions from others that my confidence shot way up. No one cared. Sure, they knew I was trans, but I don’t think anyone really gave me a second thought and if they did, I didn’t notice. Although I had planned on only getting a coffee, I ended up going to two malls, a few other stores, and out to lunch. This experience gave me the confidence to go out again. And again. And again.
The third milestone was the first meeting of the MN T-Girls. I had been attending a trans support group off and on for a few months and it was a wonderful group with incredible girls. But I didn’t really fit in. The group was mainly attended by girls who were or had transitioned and many of the meetings involved conversations about hormones, surgery, and the legal process of legally changing your name and gender. It was an important and necessary group for our community and I am glad it existed.
But my journey (ugh) was something different. I had no plan or wish to live full-time or transition. The group wasn’t for me. So at the suggestion of my wife, I started to create a group for girls like me who weren’t necessarily looking to transition, and girls who just wanted to make friends and hit the mall. Yes, it’s a little shallow, but my thought was that I can’t be the only one who wants to look cute and wander around a mall looking for heels.
Thankfully and surprisingly, I learned that I wasn’t. Not by a long shot. Today the group has close to 300 members and has been going strong (well, on hiatus under the shelter-in-place orders) for over six years. But the group had it’s humble beginnings. Our first meeting was in a coffee shop with about a half-dozen attendees. Having others show up was huge. If they hadn’t, I probably would have ended it right there. But that day was the start of something I am very proud of.
Finally, modeling for Glamour Boutique and En Femme has been incredibly significant to me. Doing my makeup, finding the right wig, and creating my look has been a humbling process. I cannot tell you how many times I looked in the mirror and wanted to give up. There are countless days where I spend an hour doing my makeup and seeing a boy in the mirror. I have felt fat, felt ugly, felt too tall, too… male. There have been days, there are still days, and there will always be days where I feel this way. It happens.
But modeling has helped me feel beautiful. I know it’s shallow. I really know this. But being considered pretty enough to model clothes and represent a business is incredibly affirming to me. When I feel ugly or male, and I do a lot, it’s helpful to look at photos from a shoot or to look at the clothes I will be modeling next.
As I look back on all of these moments, I realize that all of them boosted my confidence in some way. Whether it was how I looked or being able to create something. Going out into the real world requires a lot of confidence, but a positive (or at least not a negative experience) can also boost your confidence. I can do this. I AM doing this. I think when I present as male I take my confidence for granted. I could look in the mirror and shrug and tell myself that this is just how I look.
But being en femme is a different story. Looking male in a dress can crush my self-esteem. A bad makeup day can be devastating. Someone staring at me (in a rude way) can destroy me. Although I can strut through hell with my head held high, I am faking it most of the time because I know that someone pointing at me or a bad wig day can reduce me to shambles. It can often take an $80 makeover and a new dress to make me feel beautiful, but all it takes is a suppressed smile or a mean comment on Twitter to ruin my day. Or week.
Anyway, that ended up getting depressing. 🙂
I loved this question and I would love to hear about everyone else’s milestones in the comments.