Trans Crisis Management


Image from the Jessie
Hart archives. From the Ohio 
State Student Union. 

Over the years as I went through the process of living my life as a transgender woman, I encountered many instances of crisis management. 

Some of the encounters were funny, some were anything but funny. Several come to mind as I write this post. Probably the most humorous account came at the ill fated expense of a water balloon I used as a breast form one night when I was going out to my regular venues I loved the feel of the balloons. They provided a realistic bounce and even matched my body temperature if I filled them with water of a certain temperature. Of course, as I was doing all of this, I knew how fragile my fake breasts would be. And, a night I remember well, it happened, one of my beloved water balloons broke sending water down my clothes. I was lucky in that I was headed from my seat at the bar to the rest room and had just made it to the safety of the women's room, if it was empty at the time. It was empty and it saved me from any rushed explanations of the water which I caused. The only crisis management statement I could come up with was I was pregnant and my water broke. What really happened was, I gathered my one breast self together and left the venue like nothing happened, then headed home determined to find another form of realistic breasts. 

The next  profound crisis management encounter I remember was one of the worst I ever have had. It happened in another venue I went to regularly. After consuming my usual amount of beer, I naturally needed to innocently use the women's room. When I did, I didn't notice the woman who came in after me and I should have. I saw her and an older woman  I perceived to be her Mom come in the door and pass nearby me at the bar. The older woman wasn't shy about glaring at me but kept on going, minding her own business. I should have known my relaxation would come back to haunt me because when I came out of one of the stalls in the restroom, I was confronted by the daughter. Out of the clear blue sky, she started screaming at me and began her tirade by calling me a pervert. 

At first, my fight or flight mechanisms kicked in and my first inclination was to vacate the rest room. Instead, my inner female kicked in and faced the red faced screaming woman. Somehow during her rant, I was able to learn she ran her own hair dresser salon. When she slowed down, I asked her for a business card so I could pass it along to a very influential local LGBTQ organization and naturally tell them about my negative experience with her. It worked because she abruptly stopped and left the rest room while I not so calmly washed my hands, checked my makeup and returned to my seat. The whole experience taught me to always be aware of my surroundings and other potential problem people in it. 

Of course, these two examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dealing with our own brand of trans crisis management. From makeup and fashion  struggles when we first come out of the closet, all the way to unwanted government discrimination, we face it all. I am sure all of you have faced your own crises over the years. Maybe going back all the way to being caught cross dressing in your Mom's or sister's clothes when you were growing up. Surviving it all was the challenge while preserving our mental health. Sadly, with the extremely high rates of suicide in the transgender community, too many don't make it. In fact, we just had a local trans musician commit self harm and die last week. 

Crisis management with all of us just needs to be a priority.