Six Years of the MN T-Girls!

This weekend marks the sixth anniversary of the MN T-Girls!

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Almost every month (one month was canceled due to… reasons) for the past six years t-girls from all over Minnesota, and often times from outside the state, have met for coffee, plays, shopping, makeup demonstrations, as well as for support and friendship.

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Having planned almost one hundred of these monthly events, I am still a little surprised at the success of these outings.

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I tell myself that I will keep planning these outings as long as others show up.  There have been outings where only two t-girls come, and there have been events with close to thirty.  Some events are hits, some are… well, not so much.  Each event and each t-girl teaches me about how to run a club (if you will), but I also learn so much about our community.

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So, in honor of the sixth anniversary of the MN T-Girls, I wanted to share six things about our community that I learned after meeting hundreds of girls like us.

You are not alone

I think the internet has made us realize that there are more people like us than we could have imagined.  However we identify, there are others like us.  Whether we live between genders or we live somewhere in the middle, or we are starting hormones or have transitioned, there are more like us than you ever knew.

We T-Girls can be anything

Although many of us are protective of any details that are associated with our male lives, there are equally others who are open about the other side of their closet.  We can be husbands, boyfriends, fathers, sons, and brothers.  We can also be airline pilot, forklift drivers, realtors, retail managers and engineers.  You can never be sure who the male presenting individuals are in your life really are… or what they wear under their suit.

Different like you

One of the hardest things about coming out is explaining who we are.  Yes, I am transgender but identifying as transgender is different than Caitlin Jenner identifying as transgender.  I like to present as a girl, but I don’t always want to or need to.  I love feeling beautiful, I have no interest in men, I don’t feel I was born in the wrong body.  We understand each other.  We know who we are, we don’t need to explain it.

I’ll be there for you

We need each other.  We need to have friends who are like us.  Not only do we need people in our lives who understand us, but we often have complicated lives and having people around us who we can relate to is incredibly important.

No one cares

I have walked across malls, parking ramps, downtown, parks, auditoriums, and restaurants.

I have used the ladies room at coffee shops, Target, theaters, book stores, nightclubs, and grocery stores.

I have chatted with servers, baristas, lingerie clerks, gas station employees, makeup artists, and police officers.

I have been out in the real world for a long time and although there have been a couple unpleasant moments, I’ve realized that most people rarely give a girl like me a second look or a second thought.

The MN T-Girls have been all over the Twin Cities, and yes, it’s not every day you see a group of transgender women at a restaurant and we do get a few stares, but I am happy that each outing has been free of incidents and have always had positive interactions with others.  Safety is my number one priority with the group and I do what I can to make sure we are going somewhere safe and welcoming.

T-Girls just want to have fun

After six years of planning events it’s not always easy to come up with something for the group to do.  I like to get ideas from the girls about what they would like to do en femme.  The suggestions are always rather small.  Go out to dinner, go shopping, meet new friends.  T-girls aren’t necessarily looking to something HUGE and AMAZING, but doing something as normal as getting a cup of coffee en femme is an amazing experience many of us have dreamed of for years.  Something mundane that we do in male mode suddenly becomes super fun when dressed up.

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When I started the MN T-Girls, I did so with the goal of making friends with other t-girls.  Yes, going out en femme is fun, but after a while it gets lonely.  I wanted friends I could go to the mall or out to dinner with.  Beyond simply making friends, I wanted others to experience the real world.  Going out en femme is amazing, especially those first few times.  I understood why it’s scary, but it was more wonderful than I had hoped it could be.  Leaving the house is not easy, it’s a scary world for a girl, but going out in a group, or at least with a friend, makes it a lot safer and more fun.

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My final goal wasn’t necessarily for girls like us.  It was for the rest of the world.  I wanted the world to see girls like me out at restaurants, shopping, at a museum, or at a play.  I wanted the world to see us doing normal, boring, everyday things.  I wanted the world to see that girls like us are girls like other girls.  This goal was a little ambitious but a girl can dream.

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I am fortunate to be a part of this group.  I feel that the group is important and has achieved what I wanted it to achieve.  I am not sure what the group will do next but the membership keeps growing which makes me happy, but the simple fact that the group has existed for as long as it has is surprising to me.

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To every t-girl out there, it is an honor to be a member of our community.

Love, Hannah

 

PFLAG Events in November

PFLAG’s mission is uniting people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) with families, friends, and allies.  PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education, and advocacy.  PFLAG has 400 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

PFLAG was the first support organization I heard of when I was growing up.  I attended their meetings a few years ago and found it was a supportive and inclusive community.  PFLAG is a wonderful group, especially for our spouses and family members and I am happy to promote the events the Twin Cities chapter has scheduled.

November’s meeting will feature Minnesota author Ali Sands who wrote “Love Appears in Whatever Form It Chooses”.

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Ali Sands shares her experience in finding her own identity as her partner transitioned from female to male. Using humor, education and providing safe spaces for public listening, Ali creates an inclusive environment for learning about gender, identity and relationships

Please join them for their November meeting.
Tuesday, November 19th at 6:30 pm
Union Congregational Church
3700 Alabama Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55416
Love, Hannah

Ask Hannah!

Hi there! So I’m planning a trip to Minnesota and plan to be out en femme during the trip – any suggestions on makeover places and shopping I could do that would be friendly?

I hope you have an amazing time!  I am happy to recommend a few places.  However, please take a look at something I wrote about looking for transfriendly places.

In terms of places that are unique to Minnesota, I really love getting my makeup done at Rita Ambourn in Saint Paul.  I have had a few makeovers there for photo shoots and have always loved the results.

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If you are looking for a makeover and photos, then you’ll have a wonderful time at La Femme Mystique.    I visited Ava last year and had an amazing time.

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As for shopping, you’ll be spoiled by the Mall of America.  You can also check out some other options here.  You can also see what the MN T-Girls have done on our monthly events.

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Have a wonderful trip!  I think you’ll have amazing time!

As always, be safe and have fun!

Love, Hannah

 

Ask Hannah!

I am hoping for some advice on taking my sister in law shopping for the first time. She recently transitioned and has asked for my help going shopping for more feminine clothing, not that I’m a fashionista by any means. I am so excited to bond with her in this way but I want to be as respectful as possible in what choices I offer as far as clothing and if there are any tips on making the experience as comfortable as possible for her too. If you have any guidance for me on styles that would be the most comfortable or flattering in these early stages of transition I would be forever grateful. She is a super tall, super skinny, gorgeous woman and I want to help her feel that way every day.
Thank you!

Building a wardrobe is one of the most fun, but overwhelming things we will ever do.  I have had to needed to shop for new clothes for male mode when I got a new job for example, but shopping for Hannah is a completely different, but much more fun (and expensive) experience.

When it comes to my wardrobe, I have clothes for every occasion.  Whether it is a sparkly dress for a holiday party or something casual for a day at the mall, I have an outfit (and shoes and accessories) to mach.

What I would recommend is to start by thinking about her goals.  Everyone needs clothes, but what is she looking for?  Professional attire for her job?  Comfy staples for running errands?  Start slow, start small, and then go from there.

Another goal to keep in mind is what style of clothes is she looking for.  Not only from a personal preference perspective (say that three times fast!) but from a physical one as well.  I am not very curvy but I like to create an illusion of hips.  My Jolie Thigh Pads from The Breast Form Store help a lot, but I also love what a cute peplum dress does for my figure.

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I like showing off my legs, so my dresses and skirts tend to be on the short side.  Granted, when you are over six feet tall a dress will usually be on the short side anyway.  I also like to avoid exposing my shoulders.  I have plenty of dresses that are sleeveless, but I usually don’t wear spaghetti straps.  Many of us have features we like to show off as well as features we like to downplay.

Truth be told, I know (and care) very little about fashion.  I wear what I like and what I think is cute.  Putting together a skirt and top combination is something I struggle with, but I find mannequins and Instagram quite helpful, to be honest.  This outfit is cute…

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… but everything I am wearing is exactly what a mannequin at H&M wore.  It looked cute on the mannequin and I thought I could pull it off.  Matching a strip top with a tan skirt was not something I thought would work, but seeing it on display won me over.

I look at the style category on Instagram for inspiration as well.  I saw a lot of girls wearing cute, pleated skirts and I had to have one.  The problem was knowing what top to pair with it.  I saw a lot of girls wearing a sleek black top with the skirt, so I thought a black bodysuit would be perfect.

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I think I was right.

I don’t try to keep up with trends or what’s in at the moment.  It would be exhausting to try to keep up.  Everyone should wear what they want to wear.

I would also recommend knowing your measurements.  Dress Barn and Forever 21 both have different ideas what a size 12 dress is, but if you know your measurements it will make shopping (especially shopping online) a million times easier.

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Knowing her goals and measurements are important, but the most important thing a t-girl needs, whether it is shopping or anything else, is something you have already given her: support.

You are a gem to help her, encourage her, and shop with her.  I would rather hit the mall with a supportive person than a fashion writer.  It’s obvious you are supportive and enthusiastic about helping her and right now (and always), she will need that more anything.

Have fun!

Love, Hannah

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

 

Both Sides of Us

As someone who lives and presents as two genders, I think about gender identity a lot.  When en femme, I identify as transgender and bristle when feminine pronouns are not used by others when interacting with me.  I know one should never assume someone else’s pronouns, but when I am dressed to kill in a dress and heels and spent $65 on a makeover, I think it’s pretty safe that I am a her.

Being called male pronouns when en femme can also sting in a way that can ruin my entire day.  Sometimes I can shake it off, but other times, especially if I am having an ugly day, it can linger in my head for longer than it should.

Sometimes someone can mistakenly use pronouns when speaking with me, but they will quickly correct themselves.  But when it appears they are using male pronouns on purpose in an effort to be vindictive, then it becomes an issue of common courtesy.  To intentionally call someone by the wrong pronouns is simply cruel.  When someone uses the wrong pronouns, I will always correct them.  Well, unless it’s clearly pointless.  T-girls are pretty adept at knowing when someone is mis-gendering them intentionally.

Identifying as transgender covers a lot of gender identities.  Not that labels matter, but I feel that bi-gender is a more specific term when it comes to my identity.  I have two gender identities, and besides underdressing or something subtle, such as wearing “girl” jeans, my wardrobes do not crossover with each other.  Like my closet, my gender identities are very separate from each other.

Gender identity, pronouns, specific labels are very significant and important when en femme, but in male mode these things do not come up very often.   When I present as male, no one ever calls me by pronouns that do not match my gender presentation.  This is cis-privledge.

Last week was International Pronoun Day.  According to their website, referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people’s multiple, intersecting identities.

Users on social media were commenting on their own pronouns regardless if they were cis, trans, or non-binary.

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Although providing pronouns on a social media profile is pretty common for our community, I am also seeing it more often for cisgender people.  The more cisgender people state their pronouns, the more normal it becomes when someone who is transgender states theirs, especially when it changes.  I also see this happen as a show of solidarity and support for the trans community.  Why should only transgender people have to state their pronouns?  Why doesn’t everyone?

I appreciate anyone showing their support for the transgender community.  Even a small and subtle thing such as this makes me happy.  It’s reassuring to know we have allies out there.

Through my blogging, the MN T-Girls, and just simply being visible in the real world, I feel I am a positive voice and representative in the transgender community.  But I wonder if I am doing enough for our community in my male life.

I vote for candidates that support the same social issues I support.  I use the correct pronouns for my non-binary coworkers and friends.  I defend our community when someone attacks it.

But could I do more?  I write a lot about activism and awareness here, but I rarely bring up the same things on the social media that I use in my male life.  Hannah goes to Pride celebrations, but perhaps I should go presenting as male.

In the few people I have come out to, identifying as transgender or bi-gender or as a crossdresser is the last thing they would have guessed about me.  I wonder if that means me being an ally for our community is also just as much of a surprise.  Maybe I should do more to show my support and solidarity in my male life.

As a straight white male, I have never had to fight for my rights.  I have never had to fight for the right to vote, to own property, or to marry who I wanted.  This is another example of cis/hetero/white privilege, to be perfectly honest.  When marriage equality was passed, it took the entire LGBTQ+ community fighting for it, but it also needed the support of the non-LGBTQ+ community as well.  Similarly the transgender community is waiting for the Supreme Court to decide on whether or not sex can be a determining factor in cases of employment discrimination in regards to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Of course, the transgender community is involved with making sure that we are protected, but the cisgender community needs to be involved, too.  Like many issues, this decision should not be based on gender identity, but it should be a basic human rights issue and it’s a little insane this is even being argued.

In order for the transgender community to have all the rights and protection and respect that we deserve, it’s going to take everyone, regardless of gender identity, fighting for it.

It’s going to take both sides of me fighting for it.

Love, Hannah

 

 

 

Ask Hannah!

I’m wondering if you can share with me where girls like us hang out in the Twin Cities? Back in the day the Town House was good on Thursday nites & The Camp Bar on Sunday nights.

Many of us look for places where a member of our community can feel welcome and bars and nightclubs are a pretty common place to find that.  I think it’s important to support businesses that are inclusive and supportive for our community and to avoid businesses where we are not welcome.

For me personally I tend to frequent malls and museums and have never been much for the bar scene, but perhaps you’ll find something fun to do in Minneapolis/Saint Paul here.

I have gone to The Townhouse a few times, and it was the first place I went en femme.  Located in Saint Paul, The Townhouse was the Twin Cities’ oldest LGBTQ+ bar, but it was purchased in 2018 and has been renamed The Black Hart.  I have not been there since they have changed owners but they still feature drag shows and other events that The Townhouse was known for.  Despite the name and owner change, members of the MN T-Girls tell me they still frequent there.

Camp Bar is also in Saint Paul and has a theater which features cabaret style shows, music, and other types of performers.  From what I understand, Camp Bar used to be known as a LGBTQ+ bar, but their website doesn’t specifically indicate that.

I have gone to Lush a few times and I have always had fun there.  The MN T-Girls have gone here as a group several times for drag queen bingo and other events.  The food is good, too.

The Gay 90’s is also a popular place to go, but I haven’t been there in a very long time.

Love, Hannah

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