Sunday, March 5, 2023

Stay Safe out There

Photo from the 
Jessie Hart Archives

 These days it seems, with all the Republican anti LGBT bills which are mainly directed towards transgender women and trans men, it's increasingly difficult to relax in public. Who knows when the next shoe will fall and another person will confront you about living as your authentic self.  Sadly, in today's society people are less into minding their own business and more into minding yours.

All of this creates the extra gender pressure I previously mentioned. Through it all, the ability to present yourself authentically becomes extra important. Sadly for some of us cis-women are seemingly not so into taking advantage of what nature gave them. If I was going to go out and run errands right now, I'm sure I would see almost no women who took the time to wear any makeup and dress up at all. The real dilemma for transgender women is to look feminine without really trying. It is certainly a product of having to try harder than the average cis-woman to be accepted.  All ready there are stories surfacing about cis-women being rejected from using the woman's room by over zealous gender bigots. 

Rest rooms of course produce a unique challenge to the average transgender woman. Unless you live in the rare state or area which you are protected by law to use the restroom of your choice, it pays dividends to pay extra attention to your surroundings and be careful to use common sense women's room etiquette. Examples are many but a few of the most important ones are to sit when you pee (look at the seat first) always stop to wash your hands, don't be afraid to make eye contact with other women and don't put your purse on the floor. Perhaps the most important point to remember is to have the confidence to use the rest room of your choice.

It hasn't always been easy for me during my transition to use the women's room. Years ago I had the police called on me as well as other harrowing experiences. The scariest experience came when my wife Liz and I were on a tour bus trip from our native Ohio to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The bus made regular rest stops which were bad enough but the one at the border of Mississippi/Alabama was the worst. First of all, I had to wait in a line of women just to pee which I did. When I finished and opened the stall door I came face to face with two hostile looking women glaring at me. I hurriedly excused myself and went to wash my hands and got out of there. It took me a half hour on the bus to finally relax. I half expected a highway patrolman to pull the bus over and seek me out but it never happened. 

Of course, perhaps the major loss of male privilege we experience when we transition away from the "men's club" is personal safety. Growing up we never had the chance to learn what other cis-women are raised to know. Some men are predators and need to be steered clear of. As a male I learned how to not exist with toxic males by being the better guy no matter how hard that was. By bigger I mean the times I had to "puff" myself up to ward off any unwanted angry advances. It was a real gender upbringing when all of that was stripped away and one night I learned the hard way how a man can trap a woman and force himself on her. Nothing happened when my wife walked in except learning a valuable lesson concerning my new life. It could have been much worse. 

These days, more and more cis women face the same pressures we trans women do when it comes to their personal safety. It's important we all keep our heads on a swivel to stay safe when we go out in public. Stay safe out there.

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