Thoughts From the Dressing Room

The world is filled with exciting and fascinating places, but is there anywhere more thrilling (and humbling) than a dressing room?  Most of us know the fear and excitement that bringing a dress into a changing room can bring.  Within a few minutes either your mood is ruined or you feel like a princess.  And yes I know this is a little superficial and extreme but there you have it.  Before I was ready to leave my home en femme, I did my shopping in boy mode.  After a while, with an extreme amount of courage, I started to take a few dresses into a changing room.  When I was ready to shop en femme, using a changing room was easier mainly because I didn’t look like a man in a necktie stepping into the changing room to try on a dress.  This also got easier because I was brave enough to step out into the real world as Hannah, so using a changing room was a breeze.  

Trying on clothes is a wonderful and super fun thing to do, but it can also be frustrating.  I can try on two dresses that are the same size and one can fit like a dream and the other I can’t zip up.  How one presents can also change how a dress fits.  In male mode a dress might fit me but I don’t get the full effect until I have my curves, courtesy of my corset, breast forms, and thigh pads.  But this can also work against me.  Foundation garments can add a tiny bit to my waist and bust and all of a sudden a dress that fits perfectly in male mode can’t be zipped up.  

As I mentioned, this can be a humbling experience.  Some dresses look super cute on the rack but when we try them on we realize it’s not quite the dress for us.  If we can’t zip up a dress we might feel fat.  We might feel not-cute.  Or feminine.  We might feel foolish that we ever thought we could be pretty.  As often as a dress makes me feel like a queen, there are just as many, if not more, outfits that make me feel ugly, fat, and MALE.  None of these feelings are kind and I don’t like feeling these things.  No one does.  We need to remember that we can’t let a dress or a skirt or anything to have that much negative power over us.  And yes, this is waaaaay easier said than done.  

My birth certificate was checked MALE when I was born because of my anatomy.  And I still have all the parts I was born with.  As I grew my body developed the way bodies for most cis male do.  I’m tall, I have broad shoulders, and no curves.  I am a rectangle.  When I present as male I don’t give my shape or body a second thought.  But when I am en femme or trying on a dress then I put myself under a microscope.  I do my best to not be tooooo critical in a changing room.  I try to resist any thoughts about being too male, too fat, too anything for a dress.  I try to be objective and not let a dress hurt my feelings, if you will.  When I try on a dress I try to look at it as if it’s right for my style, right for my body, and just… right for me.

Recently I visited Blackbird, a cute boutique in Mankato and I found SO many cute things and since I overthink I had a lot of thoughts when I was in the dressing room and I thought I would share them here!

The first dress I tried on was this cute sparkly dress.  It was stretchy and super cute.  The zipper glided up and fit like it was made for me.  Since I look at my body under a microscope when I try on a dress, I checked myself out from a few different angles and thankfully still liked how I looked.  The only thing I didn’t care for was the shoulder pads (my shoulders don’t need the help) but thankfully they can be removed.  I unzipped the dress, put it back on the hanger, and hung it on my “keep” peg.

Next up is this super sexy green party dress.  I walked past this dress a few times and with a little encouragement from the salesclerk I let her put it into the changing room.  As much as I adore plunging necklines and high slits, I had a feeling this dress wasn’t going to end up in my closet.  It fit and had I tried it on in male mode I probably would have bought it.  BUT! since I was wearing stockings and breast forms I quickly realized that this dress wasn’t for me.  For starters, the neckline was waaaay too plungly.  The bra I like to wear with my breast forms was showing too much and that’s sometimes not a problem because I can just tug the dress up a bit.  BUT! the high slit just got higher when I did that.  The top of my stockings were showing (as you can see in the photo) and between showing off waaaaaaaay too much leg and flashing everyone my bra, I decided that this dress was a better fit for someone else’s body.  I know I could skip the stockings but I love how they smooth out my leg and even out my skin color.  Nylons and pantyhose could do the trick, but they can make using the ladies room a little trickier especially when I was wearing a tightly cinched corset.  AND! I prefer stockings for a very practical reason.  If they get a run I can replace one stocking as opposed to tossing out a pair of nylons or tights.  And! I prefer stockings for a very superficial reason.  They are sexy.

As a t-girl, I have a love/hate relationship with dresses that have sleeves. Sometimes the sleeves are too tight, sometimes there is not enough accommodation for my broad shoulders (which can lead to split seams), and sometimes the sleeves simply aren’t long enough. I wasn’t expecting to love this dress as much as I did because of the sleeves, but I am happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised with it. The dress also has a nice cut which compliments my bust without it being toooooo plungy. The dress is short which, if I am being honest, I have no issues with. ūüôā This cute dress is hanging in my closet and I’ll probably wear it on my next time out.

Finally we have a vegan leather dress.  I love love love leather, and I particularly love vegan leather.  It has more of a stretch, it’s shinier, and it usually tends to be more affordable than real leather.  This was the first dress I picked out when I started shopping and as long as it fit, it was a definite buy.  Ironically enough, this dress also caused the most uncertainty of everything I tried on.  Although vegan leather tends to be stretchier, I am never super confident how well it will fit.  I picked the same dress in two different sizes to try on.  I am happy that both fit (especially the smaller of the two, lol) but therein lies the dilemma.  I liked the smaller size because it fit better.  Leather is supposed to be somewhat form fitting and I like to show off my curves (again, thanks to my corset, thigh pads, and breast forms).  BUT! the larger of the two was a LITTLE baggy.  I looked, to be honest, a little frumpy.  Can’t have that.  The smaller size was sexier and hugged my body more… but it was shorter and hung on my body differently.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted the tighter dress or the slightly more modest one.  This might be a surprise but there are some dresses in the world that even I think are tooooo short.  In the end I picked the smaller size.  I actually picked two colors (one black and the other white) of this dress.  I can never have enough black leather dresses but I didn’t have a white one.  Although the dress is short, I reminded myself that some dresses are meant to be worn while I am sitting, and some, like this one, should only be worn when I am standing.  


I am happy with what I picked out.  I hope my thoughts, my insecurities, my circular decision process was insightful if not relatable.  You are more than a dress size.  Not every dress will fit you.  Not every dress is designed for every single body.  Don’t let an ill-fitting dress ruin your day or dull your sparkle.


Love, Hannah 

New Year, New Clothes!

This past weekend was the first MN T-Girls event of 2022 and THEEEE best way to kick off the year is by doing a little shopping. We were invited for a private shopping event at The Blackbird in Mankato.

The Blackbird sells clothing, accessories, and gifts and it’s probably the cutest boutique I have ever been to. And I found so many cute things! I strutted out of there with four new dresses, some accessories, and some jewelry. It was so fun.

I can’t wait to wear my new outfits and to return to the Blackbird for new clothes. Much thanks to Ali and Brie for hosting us and helping us pick out new items for our closets. Mankato is a BIT of a drive from the Twin Cities but absolutely worth it.

Love, Hannah

Ask Hannah!

Hi Hannah, I was wondering if you know of any transgender friendly hair salons that do wig styling in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area?

Hi! There are several places I would look into. All three of these businesses sell wigs.

Creative Hair Design
Merle Norman

Rita Ambourn

Anyone in the Twin Cities know of anywhere else?

Love, Hannah

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

The Future is Inclusive

These are the words at the top of page for Zhe, a new line of lingerie for transwomen.

Zhe was founded by designer Karyn Elizabeth and, according to their website, is a lingerie brand designed with the fit and function needs of the TGNC community. Our lingerie was designed to address the specific needs of transgender women and femme identifying people.

I was given the privilege of reviewing Zhe’s Wicked panty recently. My first impression of opening the package was saying “cute, cute, CUTE” out loud. The front of the panty is deigned to minimize our feminine flaw, but it’s not the same as a gaff. A gaff helps girls like us TUCK, this amazing panty compresses and minimizes our frontal anatomy thanks to the multi layer mesh lining. I wore them all day and never, ever had to adjust. They were comfortable and effective, if you know what I mean. ūüėČ The back is super cute with a beautiful and playful lacy pattern. I couldn’t stop checking myself out, lol.

The lingerie was, from their website, designed with a wider gusset and also include a supportive multi layered front panel. Our medical grade power mesh is soft and luxurious, while also having a high spandex content to help with smoothing and support where necessary.

Is this panty a substitute for tucking? Yes, if you find tucking uncomfortable. But since the gusset is wide than most panties I was able to tuck comfortably however I think the mesh is incredibly effective when it come to smooooothing and suppressing. Bottom line is I don’t think I need to tuck when I am wearing this.

This is a cute panty and like the best lingerie, it is sexy and practical and I am excited that Zhe exists, and I am excited to have this pair in my wardrobe.

Thank you to Zhe for being a supportive resource for girls like us, and for providing this cute panty for review.

Love, Hannah

New En Femme Blog!

My new blog for En Femme is up!

The latest from blogger, trans-activist and fashionista, Hannah McKnight is now available in our¬†Learning Center! Hannah’s¬†blog¬†discusses more in-depth her life as a self-described T-girl.¬†

In her newest article, Hannah talks about finding the support we need, especially after coming out to someone in our lives doesn’t go as hoped.¬† Read it now>>

Love, Hannah

Mom Hugs

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


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


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


But I digress.


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


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


Damn, a lot of baggage here, lol.


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


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


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


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


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


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


And that’s enough.¬† It has to be.¬†¬†


Love, Hannah

Wandering and Wondering

This past weekend¬†was the Pride Festival for Minneapolis.¬† Since the MN T-Girls didn’t have a booth this year I was able to spend a lot more time wandering around the park.¬† As I wandered, I let my mind do the same thing.


The world is a harsh place.  People can be cruel to one another, there are laws in place that hurt our community, and more being written each day.  Friendships and families can be forever shattered when we come out.  We walk a tightrope on eggshells as we navigate this side of ourselves, regardless of where you are on the transgender spectrum.  You might be getting weekly estrogen shots, you might be a boy who wants to do drag.  You might be somewhere between.  We just want to live our lives but we are held back by the (justified) fear of living our truths, of being ourselves, of being who we want to be.  Of being who we ARE.


When we come out we have to face reality.¬† I think about coming out to more people in my life but then I have to face the reality of that.¬† I don’t think it’s likely but there will always be the possibility that coming out to certain friends of mine might end that relationship.¬† Although I have no plans (nor do I feel the need to do so) to live full time, I know were I to do so I risk discrimination (both legal and otherwise) at work and in healthcare.

  
It’s not fair.¬† It’s exhausting.¬† It’s demeaning.¬† It’s heartbreaking.¬† Because of the reality we face we deny ourselves what we want, who we are, and what we want our lives to be.¬†¬†


However.


If we only watch the news it’s easy to think that the world hates us.¬† That we are alone.¬† It feels like that over the last few years there has been an increase in violence and hate towards the LGBTQ+ community.¬† It feels like every week there’s a new law that attempts to suppress our rights and to make it legal to deny us healthcare.¬† And there is some truth to this thinking.¬† It’s very… ah, popular in certain circles to hate us.¬† It’s very popular to turn us into the scary monster in the ladies room when all we want to do is, well, use the ladies room.¬†¬†


But it’s important (and essential for our mental health) to switch off the television and stop doom scrolling and get out into the real world.¬† It’s important to stop denying who we are, yes, but it’s also important to see for ourselves what the world thinks of us.¬† Of course, it doesn’t matter what the world thinks of us.¬† And we won’t really know what the world thinks of us, but we can get an idea.¬† Last month I finally got to spend some time at my favorite art museum, something I had been wanting to do for over a year.¬† I was dressed in my favorite pair of black patent heels and one of my favorite dresses.¬† My makeup, as the kids say, was LIT.¬† I wandered around the museum for a couple of hours, had a snack in the cafe, and browsed the gift shop.¬† It was, well, it was lovely.¬†¬†


And the best part was that no one cared.¬† I mean, they might have cared and kept their thoughts to themselves, but smiles were returned when I caught someone’s eye, no one pointed or stared.¬† Everyone just paid attention to the art (which is what one does at an art museum).¬† The world seemed a lot less cruel (and a lot more wonderful) than the news headlines suggested.


And Pride was the same thing.¬† Of course, I understand Pride is a celebration for the LGBTQ+ community and it’s the last place in the world where someone would stare at a t-girl, but Pride is also attended by allies.¬† Of course I saw other t-girls, drag queens, gay couples handing hands, and countless others of the LGBTQ+ world.¬† But I also saw people wearing t-shirts with the world ALLY on them.¬† I saw women walking around with signs that said “Free Mom Hugs”.¬† I saw people who loved us.¬† People who wanted us to know that they supported who we are.¬† It’s overwhelming to know we can get a hug from a mom, something we need, especially if we can’t get one from our own.


I can’t say how many people I saw (or saw me) at Pride in the two hours I was there.¬† But like when I went to the museum, I was just another girl enjoying the day.¬† “Vibing”, as the kids say.¬†¬†


Pride really underscores the importance of having friends like ourselves, of being involved (to any extent) in our community.¬† As a t-girl I want to do, well, non-LGBTQ+ things.¬† And I do.¬† I don’t only go to LGBTQ+ cafes and shops.¬† I go to Starbucks and Target, too.¬† But it’s important to stay involved in events like Pride.¬† To be visible, to add to the number of people who attend Pride.¬† To show the world that there are a LOT of us, and that we still stand (and strut) no matter how many people hate us.¬†¬†

Love, Hannah

MN T-Girls at Pride!

This weekend was the mini-sized Pride Festival in Minneapolis. Due to, well, the whole COVID thing, this year’s Pride’s celebrations were a little smaller than in previous years. Usually the MN T-Girls have a booth but we skipped it this year since the festival was only recently announced and there wasn’t much time to plan.


Although we weren’t there in officially this year our little group had our monthly event at Pride. It was a nice little change from previous years as I normally don’t get a chance to wander around and visit other booths but this year we got to see so much. Like always, the people watching was excellent. ūüôā

I am looking forward to next year when we are back with a booth but it was a fun day and we were happy just being there.

Love, Hannah