Showing posts with label personal safety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personal safety. Show all posts

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.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

While my Blog Gently Weeps

Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance when we pause to remember all of the transgender women and trans men who have tragically lost their lives this year. Just trying to live as their authentic selves. In addition to the thirty two deaths reported in 2022, the news of the mass shooting at a Colorado Springs Sunday morning (CNN was reporting) a shooting at a LGBTQ nightclub which left five people dead and at least eighteen injured which will surely increase the total.

Just saying this is sad and tragic is not enough of course. Too many of the deaths come from the ranks of transgender women of color and some of them were engaged in the sex trade. Mainly because of family problems when they came out and couldn't find employment because of discrimination. Most had two strikes against them before they ever had a chance to live.

 The lessons to be learned from the Transgender Day of Remembrance are few and impactful. Without living in fear due to potential violence, there are plenty of common sense rules you can follow to help insure your safety. First of all you have to remember when you leave the boys club to play fulltime with the girls you immediately lose a certain amount (or all) of your male privilege. The most important privilege you lose is access to personal safety. An example is don't leave yourself open to being accosted in a dark deserted parking lot, when you enter the world of cis women everywhere. All cis women of course know the possible dangers they face in certain situations. It's why cis women travel in groups when they have to go to possibly dangerous situations. 

Whatever excuse you may try to explain what women go through, very simply neither gender should have to go through violence often perpetuated by toxic males. The moral to the story is to never live scared but learn to watch your surroundings and simply know women have much more to be careful of. Plus,  the extra sad part of transgender murders comes with the element of surprise is thrown in. Or, when a guy is negatively surprised when he is suddenly attracted to an attractive transgender woman. 

Every year this time I hope the new year brings a huge decrease in the number of transgender deaths due to violence. Sadly, it seems a whole political party has dedicated itself to restricting LGBTQ rights, so change will be difficult to come by. Even still, in the future, I hope to weep fewer tears. 

Saturday, April 2, 2022

The Mean Streets


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

When you get down to it, many streets or parking lots just aren't safe for women. All women, cis  or transgender. Yesterday when I was going back to my parking lot alone, I keenly felt the pressure of walking two blocks down an urban street alone. To my benefit, the time I was doing it was just before dusk so there was still plenty of light. Along the way I began to wonder why I didn't see (or notice) any uniformed police presence. Usually, the Cincinnati Police has an LGBT Outreach unit they send. Perhaps they decided to be present at the Transgender flag raising ceremony the same morning at City Hall.  One thing is for sure, I noticed nearly no one during my walk.

I don't move so well anymore so I couldn't move quickly if I had an incident. 

My paranoia proved to be just that and I made it to my car without an incident. There was a time years ago when I didn't. I was still very much a novice when it came to being in a feminine world. I still didn't realize how much of my male privilege I was giving up as I transitioned to a transgender woman. One of the biggest was my personal safety. No longer could I ignore parking in poorly lit parking lots or streets and it came back to haunt me in the worst way.

One night (late) I was coming out of one gay venue in downtown Dayton, Ohio I used to visit on occasion. When I left I was confronted on the sidewalk by two guys wanting money. Luckily I was able to defuse the situation by giving them my last five dollar bill and they let me go on my way. From then on whenever I went back there I made sure I was not alone. I remember vividly the first time I asked a trans man I knew to escort me to my car one night when I left a big gay club. Lesson learned which was reinforced on the night I have written so much about when I was physically threatened by a man at a party I attended. 

As I wrote, none of this is new to a cis gender woman. They grow up living in a world where they are in physical danger at some point in their lives.  One of the most important lessons you need to learn as you begin to navigate the "mean streets." 

None of this is meant to make you paranoid.  It is meant as a gender warning. Just as if you have faced a point in your MtF gender transition when you were treated as a second class citizen , potentially losing your personal security is even worse. 

As many cis women will tell you, welcome to their world. If you are careful, you can negotiate the mean streets just fine as your authentic self. Just don't make the mistake of thinking you can bully your way out of it. Plus, I know some transwomen who carry firearms to protect themselves. Even with my Army weapons training, if I did, I am afraid I would shoot myself before anyone else. Instead I choose to not be alone on the mean streets if I can help it. I am fortunate in I usually am with Liz who is very familiar with Cincinnati and knows where to go and where to stay away from. 

As they used to say on the old "Hill Street Blues" police show, let's be careful out there!