Thursday, June 11, 2020

Strutting Away from Shame

By Hannah McKnight
There are a zillion ways someone like us can identify as. From the day I learned the word I identified as a crossdresser. When I heard the word transgender I felt it encompassed me more, but it was years until I identified that way. I define transgender as anyone who is outside of the traditional gender norms. A boy who wears eyeliner or paints his nails? Someone killing onstage in drag? A man who wears panties under his three piece suit? I believe they all fall under the bright pink transgender umbrella. Under that umbrella is a term that probably describes who I am the best: I am bi-gender.
I present as either HE or SHE. Yes, there is a little crossover such as wearing panties in boy mode or sleeping in a nightgown, but most of the world sees me in either patent black stilettos or in work boots.
When I make that beautiful transition from one gender presentation and identity to another, I am aware of how much I am changing physically. I have my thigh pads, my hip pads, my breast forms, my hair, both body and wig. My makeup causes my eyes to pop, my face is contoured, my lips painted a bright, glossy red.
But for as many things I can and do change, there are parts of me that no matter what I do, they cannot be altered. I am tall, I have large hands, I have broad shoulders. These are my most "male" features. Yes, I can minimize my shoulders visually, I COULD skip the heels (I will never skip the heels), and I could hide my hands more.
Before I go any further, I wish to clarify that no one, absolutely no one is too tall, too.... anything to be beautiful, to be a girl, to identify however they want. I have met cis-women who are taller than me, even in my highest heels. And I have some high heels.
But these are the parts of me that if I COULD change, I would. I don't believe in passing, of course. As I said, no one is too tall or anything to be a girl. There are no standards that one needs to meet in order to be feminine.
I used to not feel this way, though. I used to think I was too tall to go out, too tall to wear those heels. But it wasn't my height or hands or anything one could see that was holding me back. What was keeping me home was my own thoughts and doubts and fears. Eventually I got tired of strutting around my living room and finally went out that front door and never looked backed. And I thank god every day for that decision.
The more I went out, the less self-conscious I was about my height, my hands, and everything else. Of course people stared, I'm fabulous But kidding aside, people stared because I am wearing a bright pink dress, I am (probably) overdressed for the mall, and I am a transgender girl. Of course people will stare. And when I say stare, it's more like a double-take. They see me, they look again, and we all move on with our lives.
Each time I go out, I feel more empowered than I did the last time. I am conquering an unseen force... my doubts, my fears, my dysphoria. Each time I walked through the front door of a museum, theater, dress shop I was walking away from the part of me that said I couldn't, or shouldn't, do this. Dressing is empowering to me. Going out is empowering to me. Wearing those heels that make me the tallest girl in the city is me saying that no one, not even me, is too tall to be a girl. I am tall, I am an amazon, I am a goddess, I am a six foot tall girl, before the four inch heels. I look down (literally) on those who hate me. Let's see them walk in these stilettos.
If being en femme is not empowering I don't know what is. We are being true to ourselves, despite the world wanting us to suppress who we are.
People are going to see me. Let them look. Let them stare. It doesn't bother me a bit. I spent $80 on a makeover, they better look, lol.
When I feel and look beautiful, I feel I can take on anything. Dressing (for the most part) has always felt empowering to me. Yes, mastering walking in stilettos and being able to do winged eyeliner feels as if I am conquering something, but the real strength comes from letting ourselves listen to this part of us. Accepting and embracing who we are when almost all of society says to stay in our gender lane. We are told to not wear pink, don't wear that skirt, don't paint your nails. We listen for a while... and then some of us stop listening to THEM and we start listening to HER. That is the victory, that is the empowerment.
But before we can feel empowered, many of us have to face the opposite: the shame.
I do not think we are born feeling shame when it comes to wearing or identifying with anything feminine. I believe we are taught this shame. Boys are told not to cry like a girl, boys are mocked if they throw a basketball like a girl, run like a girl, bake like a girl... we are taught that being a girl is something we should be ashamed of. The damage this does to us is severe, not to mention the damage this causes girls who overhear this type of ridicule. We hear these horrible things in our childhood, often right around the time we are starting to pay attention to what we feel, and what we want to wear. These feelings of shame can be entwined with our wanting to wear that dress, those shoes.
This side of us is wonderful. It is nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing wrong with us. We are all goddesses. We are women.
And fear? Of course we're afraid. I'm afraid of the stem of my heel snapping, I am afraid of my stockings getting a run in them. Joking aside, I am afraid of being harassed. As powerful as I feel en femme, sometimes a snide comment can destroy my confidence. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. I am afraid of being attacked, of course. I am afraid of being seen by someone I am not out to, especially if that someone is not someone I want to be out to ...ever. It's natural to be afraid. It's normal. But fear is not something that we should let control our lives. Rather, we can mitigate it. Afraid of being seen by someone you know? Go to a different town. Afraid of being attacked? Go to a very public place (which is scary in a different way), but I feel more at ease in a crowded mall than anywhere else. Afraid of your stockings running? Keep a second pair in your purse. I know I do.
Just like there are a zillion ways we can identify, there are countless feelings and emotions this side of us can bring. Sometimes we feel them all at once. My legs tremble with fear at the same time my skin tingles with joy when I step out. It's exhausting.
There is no shame in who you are. There is no shame in beauty, in being feminine. Being true to yourself is the most powerful thing you can be.
Love, Hannah

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

By Carollyn Olson

Ooooooooooooh, to wish I knew then what I know now. But, then again, would I have put everything I have learned in near 40 years of crossdressing into practice?

Many of you know, from my earlier articles, I was a late bloomer when it came to crossdressing, starting at age 32. When I began, the internet was non-existent and Payless Shoes, or any major department store for that matter, did not carry women’s shoes above size 10. Now, at age 72, so much has changed and there are so many opportunities for younger crossdressers to develop into “the woman they want to be” at an earlier age. And, for the older crossdressers, we can continue refining ourselves.

A friend of mine once told me “when you go to sleep at night and if you haven’t learned something during the day, the day is not worth living.” I’ve taken my friend’s advice to heart and try to discover something new every day, no matter how small the revelation may be. I’ve learned so much and it has enhanced my ability to age slowly – I feel like I’m 55 and believe I look even younger – and continue to enjoy being out-and-about as an accepted crossdresser.

Even though I have always tried to dress age appropriate, when I was younger I desired to be sexier and show more cleavage than I do now. Unlike many girls, I have never had the sensation that is the sexual component of dressing. However, I do know a number of girls who did, and have related to me, that the feeling has diminished and/or vanished as they grew older. For most, when they were much younger, there was always a sexual tension that went along with dressing, and being sexually aroused when one looked into the mirror. Now, as we all age, one can simply enjoy the look of a pretty woman.

The biggest plus from my early crossdressing days was that I have always been accepted when out in public. I don’t know if I can give credit to my mother, who always looked young, or to my genes. Either way, I have never received negative comments or been treated meanly when dressed as a woman.

For me, there are good physical signs that come with growing older which make me feel even more natural when dressing.

Gravity and old age have helped with creating more natural breasts and a bit of a beer belly. For years I have worn 38C breast forms, but now, I have enough sagging “male boobs” tissue to fill a 38B…and if I want to go larger, I can wear a padded bra or add a little extra cushion. Another friend of mine, who is the same age, has become so natural, she has developed perfectly formed 38C breasts and is often asked if her breasts are real or if she has had implants. She loves to tell the “inquiring fan” that “they are mine.”

A corset has become a necessity to eliminate the stomach bulge. Ten years ago, I would never have thought of wearing a corset in lieu of a body shaper and hip pads. Now, I would not dress without one, as my waist measurements can be reduced from 34 to 28 inches unless I pull the cords even tighter…ouch!!!

When I was younger, I needed to shave the blonde hair on my legs at least once a month. Now, due to aging, the hair on my legs has virtually disappeared. What a pleasure to not have to “lather up” when showering.

What to wear has never been a problem for me. I have always tried to dress appropriately and somewhat conservatively. Short dress hemlines and low-cut sweaters and blouses are still in vogue, but I don’t wear short skirts or expose my breasts as often as I did in the past. Both are still fun, but at my age, I dress more discreetly.

I love wearing dresses, so it is easy to find lovely outfits, many of which I have purchased from my friends at En Femme. I can’t keep track of the compliments I receive when wearing my En Femme dresses. My favorite may be the blue and white checked Hi-Lo dress, which I purchased last year and have worn so many times when visiting my hair salon or out with friends for a movie or dinner or at social gatherings.

There are definitely a number of negatives about getting older, but I try not to worry and compensate the best I can.

The biggest drawbacks are “wrinkles” and a “turkey neck.” One always wants to look their best and as young as possible, so I use anti-aging creams, some temporary enhancers for under the eyes, a bit of taping on my forehead to lift my eyebrows, and taping under my jaw line to get rid of the “turkey neck.”

Applying makeup and getting dressed seem to take longer than in the past, as well. I once could apply my makeup and dress and be out the door in less than an hour, but now it has stretched out an additional 30 minutes or so. However, the older I get, the more of a perfectionist I have become. I will always want to look my best.

Mostly gone are the days of wearing 4-inch heels for almost every occasion, but that doesn’t bother me. What’s an inch less anyway? You can keep your balance and still look stylish. I have to remember I’m not 35-40 any longer.

Confidence remains the key to crossdressing, no matter what age you are. Being older, I have found an even greater desire to be out in public, even though I never was “closeted” or afraid to get out and do things when I was younger. I always felt that “if I worked so hard to get dressed, why wouldn’t I go out and enjoy myself.”

Being an older crossdresser, I have also developed a number of relationships with other “girls” from around the world who have become confidants and dear friends. When I was younger, I felt so alone and prayed to find a few crossdressing friends. Obviously, when and as the internet developed, it played a huge part in opening the world to crossdressers, and thank God it did. I recall the first crossdressing website I discovered was Vicki Rene’s Prettiest of the Pretty. I could not believe the beautiful men-turned-women on the site. It definitely helped me with my desire to look “the best I can be.”

What does the future hold? I know I will never give up my desire to crossdress. It is embedded in me as it is with most “girls.” I figure, if a friend of mine who is in her 90s can continue to enjoy being a woman, why can’t I??? And, so can you!!!