Hanna was born November 12, 1968, in Portland, Oregon. At age four, she moved with her family to Calverton, Maryland; as Hanna's father changed occupations, the family moved several more times. Hanna's parents divorced, and she returned to Portland where she graduated from Lincoln High School. Hanna first became interested in feminism around the age of nine, after her mother took her to a rally in Washington D. C. where feminist icon Gloria Steinem spoke. Though several years would pass before she became an outspoken feminist, with Hanna eventually referring to herself as a radical feminist, the event left an impression on her. In a 2000 interview with BUST magazine, Hanna recalled: "My mom was a housewife, and wasn't somebody that people would think of as a feminist, and when Ms. magazine came out we were incredibly inspired by it. I used to cut pictures out of it and make posters that said 'Girls can do anything', and stuff like that, and my mom was inspired to work at a basement of a church doing anti-domestic violence work. Then she took me to the Solidarity Day thing, and it was the first time I had ever been in a big crowd of women yelling, and it really made me want to do it forever. "