This afternoon is my oldest grandson's birthday party/dinner. Without hesitation, my wife Liz and I said we would attend. Not so long ago, my response would not have been so quick or so easy. Similar to so many of you transgender women and trans men, I went through significant stress finding a safe place to go to and explore the limits of my new authentic self.
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Jessie Hart Archives
The first venues I tried were the primarily gay bars where I discovered quickly I really wasn't welcomed. After all the vast majority of the gay men in the space were looking for other men and only viewed me as another drag queen. If there wasn't a drag show scheduled for the night I was there, I was totally out of place. It did not take me long to seek out other so called safe spaces where I could attempt to learn to live my new life.
A few of the venues I chose did turn out to be safe while others not so much. First I tried a couple of small lesbian bars I discovered in the Dayton, Ohio area. Both were former biker bars. One maintained that image for lesbians While the other was certainly more mellow and welcoming. The first place always made sure I never felt welcome while the other was the opposite. Primarily because it turned out my male self knew one of the bartenders. The only problem I ever ran into in the second venue was when I was forced into singing karaoke by a very masculine lesbian. I don't sing at all, so it was quite the challenge. It wasn't so long after that the place closed for good and I was forced to find other safe spaces to go to.
Since I was already the general manager of a very popular and busy casual dining bar/restaurant, I knew with some certainty what I could do to develop another safe space or two to go to. I found I was successful in locating a couple and decidedly not successful in trying to become a regular at others. So much so, I had the police called on me when I tried to use the restroom. I easily explained my situation to the cops and was sent on my way. I did manage to become a regular at three other sports bar type restaurants and even received rest room privilege's in the process. Plus when I finally established myself with a small group of friends I came with, I became ever more of a regular. I enjoyed my space spaces immeasurably and was able to grow my feminine self.
Outside of a couple isolated instances, I never went back to the gay venues again. Where I never did really fit in.
As far as my daughter's in laws were concerned, I write often concerning how accepted I was as a transgender woman. I think I was more concerned about how I would be treated than they were. After all I was carrying a ton of my old macho male baggage with me. Plus, speaking of safe spaces, I would be remis not mentioning all the current concern over a pre opt transgender woman in a woman's locker room without any clothes, I don't believe it's time for any real input from me Except from saying personally, I wouldn't want to show off my naked body in either locker room and I can't imagine someone doing it without backlash. Also, as a transgender community, we don't need any potential negative publicity.
On a brighter note, I hope you all have found and developed your own transgender safe spaces.