Sparking Joy with the MN T-Girls!

Earlier this year a Netflix show asked viewers to look at their possessions and ask themselves if what they owned sparked joy.  If it did not, perhaps it was time to donate it.

This movement is creating an increase in donations to thrift stores and consignment shops.  As someone who loves finding amazing dresses, this is a golden age.

Every month, the MN T-Girls meet for a different social outing.  Sometimes we attend a play, or visit a museum, or shop.  This month the girls and I met up for a little thrift store hopping to see if anything we found sparked joy.  Spoiler alert, joy was sparked.  Before shopping, we met for a little lunch at Doolittles in Eagan, a suburb south of the Twin Cities.  Excellent food, attentive staff, and a welcoming environment for a group of t-girls.

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After lunch, it was time to shop!  We started at a thrift shop (Hidden Treasures) just a few blocks from the restaurant.  I didn’t find anything that sparked joy, but a lot of the girls did.

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While the girls were shopping, I caught up on my reading.

After checking out (and after the girls checked themselves out in the mirror) we went over to Style Encore.  Every single time I’ve shopped here I have found an amazing dress.  Would this trip also yield success?  The girls and I got started.

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And then I saw it, THE DRESS.  Bright as a star, as if a the sun shone down on it.  Was it my size?  Did it spark joy?

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YES.  Joy was sparked.

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Our purses a little lighter and a wardrobes a little fuller, we headed home to try on our new clothes and dream about where we would wear them.

Love, Hannah

 

 

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The New Little Black Dress

I love how clothes can change…everything.  I love how certain patterns, colors, and styles can minimize or enhance certain characteristics of our body.  Black tends to be slimming, dresses with larger prints are usually flattering to us tall girls, and a skirt with horizontal strips can balance out a body that is considered top-heavy.

Of course, you should wear whatever you want.  There is also no standard one must meet to be beautiful or feminine.

That being said, I have always loved what peplum tops and dresses do for my figure.  Peplum dresses and tops have an extra piece of fabric that flares out around your hips.  Peplum style clothing is very versatile as it gives the appearance of hips to those who lack curves, but for those who are a little shapely it draws attention to other parts of our body.

Glamour Boutique recently sent me several dresses to model and to review and I am excited to share with you the first of those outfits.  I have modeled for Glamour Boutique in the past and I am excited to continue to work with them.

When I first started to build my wardrobe, I tended to gravitate towards black dresses as they were not only slimming, but they also gave off a sense of sophistication and class.  After a while, I drifted more towards brighter colors, bold patterns, and different styles.  I hadn’t added a black dress to my closet in years and I was at a point where it would take a really amazing black dress to be added to my closet…

…Such as Glamour Boutique’s Black Crossdresser Peplum Dress.  I looked at this dress on their website and I thought it looked cute, but nothing too spectacular.  When I opened the package the dress came in I was struck by how the photos didn’t really do it justice.  The dress was cuter than it appeared to be.

 

And then I tried it on.

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Wow.  The dress gives me a little more curve, and the skirt is short enough (always a plus in my opinion) to show off my legs.  The top of me is pretty square-shaped so its not easy for me to pull off a hourglass look, but the cute little flare that cinches around my waist gives my body a lot more shape.

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The bottom of the dress is in the style of a pencil skirt and it’s meant to be tight and straight.  This style helps even out my square shoulders and gives me an overall proportional look.  If you are tall like I am, it’s usually recommended to not pair a peplum look with heels, because this style can accentuate height, but as you can see I kept my stilettos and paired this dress with black stockings for a classic look.

The dress itself is true to size and when you order it please take your measurements correctly.  I went back and forth between two sizes and went for a size up and I am glad I did.  If a dress that is my size doesn’t fit me its usually because of the shoulders and not the hips, however this dress fit like a dream.  I was comfortable in it, I looked good in it, and even though I don’t drink, I felt like going to a cocktail party.

This is a fun, flirty dress.  The peplum style adds a little extra to the traditional little black dress but does not take away any of the style, timelessness, and sophistication.  I am so happy this is in my closet and I am excited to show it off the next time I go out to dinner.

Thank you to Glamour Boutique for providing this dress for this review.

Makeup by Corrie Dubay

Photography by Shannonlee McNeely

Love, Hannah

 

 

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go

If you are looking for a new perspective on life, there’s nothing like walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.

This can also be accomplished by walking through a mall in heels.

It’s quite incredible to visit somewhere en femme that you have been to previously in male mode.  One of the first times I went out during the day was to a coffee shop in Uptown.  Uptown is a neighborhood in south Minneapolis and is considered to be very LGBTQIA friendly.  Over time we are seeing fewer local businesses and more chain stores but the neighborhood still has some of that independent spirit.

This was a coffee shop that I used to go to pretty regularly in male mode.  I would park about two blocks away and then walk there to get my eight dollar coffee.  I did this almost every day for a few years.  Returning as Hannah was a different experience.  For one, I trembled like a leaf in the wind the entire time.  It was a summer day but I shook from my nerves.  I remember thinking that it took a lot longer to walk there in a tight skirt as opposed to the long strides I was used to in male mode.

I walked into the coffee shop, a place I had visited hundreds of time and I immediately looked at it through new eyes.  Did I see anyone I know?  Was anyone looking at me?  Is there anything here I should be cautious of?  Scanning a room when I walked into it was a new experience for me.  Trembling I approached the counter but I noticed how my heels sounded on the floor.  This was something I had never heard before.

The baristas couldn’t been nicer.  They smiled (without any hint of suppressed laughter) and called out Hannah’s name when her coffee was ready.  My hands shook as I took the cup.  I had passed the first trial.  I walked out, braver and more relieved than ever.  My heels clicking against the floor now sounded like music to me.

Emboldened, I went to two malls, Target, a couple more coffee shops, a bookstore and out for lunch.  I was giddy from nerves, excitement and caffeine.  The world had never looked more beautiful.  People stared but no one laughed or smiled cruelly.  My first real adventure was a success and I returned home safely and smiling.

I felt I had conquered the world.  I did conquer the world.

Before my epic journey, I searched online for places to go.  I was afraid to shop somewhere where I would be laughed at or turned away.  I wanted somewhere welcoming to a girl like me.  So, I googled things like “crossdresser friendly places” and…came up with virtually nothing.

Looking back it’s not surprising that I didn’t find anything.  Very few businesses will go out of their way to specifically state that a particular segment of the population is welcome.  It’s not much different than a business stating that all left-handed customers are welcome to their store.

I get a lot of emails asking where a girl like us can go to eat and to shop and, you know, exist.  We search online but come up with nothing.  It’s true that there are businesses out there that carry products specifically and almost exclusively for our community.  Glamour Boutique and Janet’s Closet both have retail stores and advertise themselves specifically to girls like us but if a girl like us wants to get a cup of coffee, dine out, spend the day at the museum or the mall we want to find somewhere we are welcome.

Or at the very least not be mocked, humiliated or turned away.

So, how do we do know where to go?

There’s a few things we can do.  Instead of googling using the term ‘crossdresser friendly’ we can expand it to ‘LGBTQIA friendly’.  That long acronym covers us.  Even by expanding our search to that, we may not find much.  You can modify your search to “LGBTQIA + (city name)” and you will usually find a list not unlike a travel guide to the city you enter.  When I search ‘Minneapolis LGBTQIA’ one of the first results is a website that lists various bars, restaurants, stores and events that are friendly, or at least of interest to the queer community.

We can also be be mindful of different organizations and their stance on social issues.  I shop at Target in both genders and I will continue to do so.  I find Target is more progressive than most retailers.  In 2016 they received a lot of media attention for their bathroom and changing room policy which, according to their website:

In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways. Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.

Oh, people were mad.  Boycotts were threatened but Target never backed down.  It says a lot about their company culture and values and I will gladly shop there.  Activism is something many corporations do and take a stand on these days.  Pay attention to what they do and how they donate their money.

On the flip-side, there are organizations that I will never support in either gender.  I used to shop at Victoria’s Secret and was disappointed by comments from one of their CEOS regarding the transcommunity.  I was even more disappointed by how they reacted to the controversy.  A weakly worded statement but no action.  If they were truly regretful of these words they could have donated money to an LGBTQIA charity, they could have fired the person who said these things, they could have implemented diversity and inclusivity training across the organization.  Their inaction speaks volumes.  I do my shopping elsewhere these days.

A lot of people would prefer that they didn’t know about the political or charitable donations of an organization as supporting that business may be in conflict with their core beliefs.  I vowed years ago to never go to Chick-fil-A after learning about what they do with their profits.

According to Vox:

The Chick-fil-A Foundation donated more than $1.8 million to three groups with a history of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in 2017, according to recently released tax filings analyzed by ThinkProgress. That year, Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm gave $1,653,416 to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a religious organization that requires its employees to refrain from “homosexual acts”; $150,000 to the Salvation Army, which has been accused of anti-LGBTQ discrimination and advocacy for years and whose media relations director once claimed gay people “deserve death”; and $6,000 to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Christian residential home that teaches young boys that same-sex marriage is a “rage against Jesus Christ and His values.”

So, not very friendly to our community.  I like knowing information like this because I absolutely believe this is a reflection of their company culture.  When I bring this to someone’s attention it’s not uncommon for them to shrug this off and continue to dine there.  Some people have core values until it is in contrast with what they want.  It reminds me of a Bob Dylan lyric:

people don’t do what they believe in,

they just do what’s most convenient,

then they repent

I think about this every time I drive past one of their restaurants and I imagine you will too.  Hopefully you keep driving by as well.  I sincerely believe if we want to find more “crossdresser friendly businesses” we need to stop supporting organizations that aren’t.

A guide I find helpful is if a business has an ‘All Are Welcome Here’ sign on their door or window.  That’s about a good of an indicator one will get.  It’s not uncommon to see this image on a company’s website these days.  An all-gender bathroom is also an encouraging sign.

Another thing to keep in mind is that every single business is staffed and run by people.  Company core beliefs and policy aside, not everyone you interact with is going to be happy to see you.  I don’t know of a single organization that specifically tells their employees to be mean to the transcommunity, but that doesn’t mean they won’t.  You can go to the queer-friendliest place on the planet, but if the cashier is having a bad day, or they hate everyone, or, let’s face it, they specifically hate transpeople, you’ll not have a pleasant experience.

The MN T-Girls have done a lot of private shopping events and I am always appreciative of the kindness of the salespeople who volunteer to stay after hours to help our group pick out everything from lingerie to foundation.  I am thankful that companies are willing to pay their staff to work these events for our group.  Again, this says a lot about their core beliefs.  These events are also a little nerve-wracking because as supportive as a company is about our community, they also want to make a little money.  I keep my fingers crossed that when the T-Girls have a private shopping event that we spend enough to make it worth it for them.  Time after time these events are more financially success for them than they expected and we are invited to come back for another event any time we want.

I love hearing that.  I think it sends a message to retailers that when there are salesclerks out there that understand and respect us that it can be profitable.  Of course, if they are only doing that to make money and lack any sincerity in supporting our community then that’s a different story.

I know that this isn’t easy.  I would love to be able to list a hundred places in every major city that would be tickled pink to see us, but it’s just not realistic.  Being who we are requires us to stop waiting for the world to love and accept us.  It will never be okay.   We can’t wait to go shopping or dine out until the world loves us.  That day will not come.  Instead we need to shake it off, put on our big girl panties and hit the mall.  If a cashier is rude to us or a server stifles a snicker, then leave.  Never return.  Send an email to their corporate headquarters.  Or don’t.  Take your money and business and time elsewhere.  Life is too short and too beautiful for us to be treated rudely.

 

Makeup Shopping with Drag Queens and Other Things to do on the Weekend

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Flip-Phone organizes different drag-themed events all around the Twin Cities.  They host drag brunches every Saturday at Union in downtown Minneapolis as well as various pop-up parties.  Previous events have included drag story hour at different libraries and future drag themed brunches including homages to Prince and Whitney Houston.

Flip-Phone and Rosedale Mall recently created some controversy when they announced an event on May 19th that is aimed to be a family friendly event which will include stars from Rupaul’s Drag Race, local celebrities and shopping.

According to City Pages:

(Flip-Phone director Chad) Kampe’s seen this kind of thing before. Last year, he helped the St. Paul Public Library system put on its first drag story times, with glitzy queens reading books to kids. The same kinds of sentiments began to pile up online. They claimed drag was inherently sexual or kinky or “inappropriate,” and that it was going to indoctrinate ruin kids.

For the record, it didn’t. In fact, it was standing room only, the library’s most successful event of the year.

Kampe soon discovered these new comments seemed to have a central instigator: a Facebook group called Child Protection League Action. It calls itself a “nonprofit organization that works to protect children from exploitation, indoctrination, and violence” by “mobilizing the public.”

Earlier this week, the League posted about the Rosedale Center drag show. It accused the mall of “normalizing degrading sexual costuming and performances that are found at gay bar scenes,” as well as “targeting” kids. It urged followers to contact mall management and businesses. 

Kampe says the event is kid-friendly, featuring Top 40 songs, with no scanty costumes or raunchy humor. In other words, it will be more child friendly than “walking past a Victoria’s Secret store.”

I wanted to bring some attention to this as it does affect our community.  I know some of us go to great lengths to explain to others that what who we are and what we do is not drag.  However, I think it’s important that we stand by our sisters who are also outside the gender binary.

You can stay up to date with future Flip-Phone events here and here.

Love, Hannah

Ask Hannah!

Hello, I really love to know how I could be more femme.  I am a very tall guy which I really hate.

There’s a zillion things you can do, and what makes one feel femme is different for everyone.  For some nothing is more feminine than bright red nails, or a matching bra and panty set or literally anything else.

You specifically mention being very tall.  How tall is too tall to be feminine?  Remember, there is no standard that one has to meet to be a woman.  I am also tall but once I learned to embrace my height I was that much happier.  I used to want to blend in.  I didn’t want to be noticed, I didn’t want to be seen.  I thought being tall would make me stand out more.  But I realized that I am going to stand out no matter what.  I wear bright pink dresses.  My makeup has more drama than a high school.  There’s nothing about me that blends in, so why not wear whatever I want?

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So I rock the sky-high heels and I am hard to miss.  It’s funny, wearing tall heels makes me feel more feminine that I ever thought I could feel.

The best advice I ever heard about being a tall girl and heels was given by talk show host Wendy Williams.  She says it better than I ever could.

The best thing we can do is embrace ourselves.  Embrace all of you.  Your height, your body, everything.

Love, Hannah

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

 

Specially Designed Luxury Lingerie For Transwomen

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From The London Economic

A transgender woman has launched the world’s first range of specially designed luxury lingerie – for trans women.

She said trans women who haven’t had surgery have few options to help conceal their genitals – and what’s out there is a far cry from anything found on the shelves of Victoria’s Secret and Anne Summers.

Carmen Liu, 27, from London, has designed flattering underwear that ‘tucks’ the genitals in while featuring pretty bows and lace trimmings usually found on conventional lingerie.

Slamming the traditional ‘gaff’ – which she describes as the “love child of Borat’s mankini and a jock strap” – Carmen says all women deserve the experience of wearing sexy lingerie.

She is also adding bras to the range to match her innovative bottoms, which keeps the area down below looking flat with a secret combination of design and fabric.

As well as underwear, the entrepreneur is also bringing out her own ‘tucking tape’ – which is safe for skin and a less painful alternative to household tapes that many trans women use.

More here!

Love, Hannah

 

 

An Alluring Evening!

After the comments by a Victoria’s Secret CEO a few months ago, many in our community, including myself,  have decided to stop shopping there.  It’s hard to deny that they had really cute panties and for the most part, many of us had very welcoming and comfortable experiences there.  So, where’s a t-girl to go?

There are other options.

However, shopping online and shopping in a store are different experiences, especially when it comes to lingerie.   A few members of the MN T-Girls reached out to me and asked where a girl like us could go for a bra fitting in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area.

I live to serve.

IMG_1830For the February MN T-Girl outing, I arranged for a private shopping event at Allure, a really wonderful lingerie boutique in Saint Paul.  Like other private events we’ve been to, this took place after the store closed to the general public in order to create a safe, supportive and inclusive night of shopping en femme.

There’s no denying that Allure is just a really wonderful lingerie shop.  It’s warm, intimate,  and has a really incredible selection of panties, bras, bodysuits, shapewear and pajamas.  Their sizing is also inclusive which can go up to 3x and bras that go up to 48k.

For our event we had three amazing hosts who helped us all with bra fittings, recommendations, and special orders.  But the most important thing they did for our group and our community is showing how supportive they are.

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There were about twenty of us at the event and we definitely kept our hosts busy.  Our hosts were amazing as they helped us with bra fittings and educating us with everything from bra care to explaining how to find our cup size for those of us who wear forms.  Our hosts helped us find matching panties for beautiful bras as well as shapewear for those who are looking for some curves.  Some of us came to the event who were just looking to start building their lingerie wardrobe, some of us were looking for new sleepwear but for myself I wanted a new matching bra/panty set and a new black push-up bra.  I am thrilled with what I found.

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It was a wonderful night.  I am so happy that we have such an amazing store in the area.  There are other locations across the Twin Cities as well as in Wisconsin and Texas.

Here are some pictures from the event.  Huge thank you to Allure, our hosts Hannah, Angela and Ann and to all the MN T-Girls who helped create a really magical night.

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Love, Hannah