Saturday, January 21, 2023

Transgender Safe Spaces

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. 

Photo from the 
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.  

Friday, January 20, 2023

You Wanna be my Girl

 During my errands this morning, I heard the "Jet" song "Do you Wanna be my Girl." If you aren't familiar, the lead singer mentions his lust interest in the song as having long blond hair and long legs. Back in the day, I tried my best to look the same way as I wore my skirts too short and matched them with a long blond wig. Through it all, I certainly wasn't having any music written about me. Ironically I was doing all the wrong things fashion wise as I supposedly didn't want to attract any attention and blend in with the world. My problem was I was presenting to attract men and not blend in with the other women around me. 

Girls Night Out from the Jessie Hart Collection
I'm seated in Stripes on Left

As I look back at my life, I see how often and desperately I wanted to be my own girl. Way back in high school after I was turned down yet again asking a girl on a date, I would run home and if possible shave my legs, put on a pair of pantyhose , apply makeup and finish dressing as my favorite I always knew she wouldn't turn me down. This continued through out my life until the Army briefly forced my male self  to stand up and be counted. That didn't continue long because my dominant feminine self was always waiting patiently and often not so patiently to live her life in the public's eye. Not only I found did she want to be my girl, she wanted to be "the girl". 

Being "the girl" turned out to be the best move I could make. The big differences came as I was coming out of my gender closet and into the world. Instead of feeling terrified, I felt excited and so natural I couldn't wait to do more to achieve my inner woman's goals of coming out. As I quickly learned, when I got out of her way, she knew who she was and developed quickly. So much so, she was slowly but surely pushing my wife of twenty five years out of the marriage.  

Sadly the only thing which saved the marriage as long as it did was her untimely, sudden death from a heart attack at the age of fifty. Often before she passed, we had a dog who was certainly a one person dog and the person was me. My wife always said if something happened to her, the dog would never miss her. Which is very close to what happened. What also occurred was when she passed, the door was suddenly opened for my feminine self to come out. In many ways it seemed she had waited long enough for her turn and here it was. Even though the entire experience was and is a total shock to my being and I loved my wife dearly, I knew the path was clear to my gender freedom. At my age of sixty I was in a position to take the gender leap to freedom and not look back. All of a sudden, I didn't know how much time I had left as I lost more and more of my closest friends to cancer. 

The answer was clear, I wanted to be my girl. Even though I knew there were going to be many more bridges to cross and some even to burn. I was given a second chance in life I just couldn't turn down. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

A Gender Threat?

Photo Courtesy Linkedin

Recently I wrote a post concerning a communication with the public as a new transgender woman. When I did the gender transition, I did it and surprisingly learned I could communicate with women better than I ever had before. After reading the post, Paula from "Paula's Place" blog, checked in with this comment:

I have actually found it easier to engage with strangers as a woman than I ever did when the world was experiencing me as a man. Being seen as man often equates to being seen as a threat. Being seen as a woman I am "safe" I can now indulge in the casual conversations with strangers that used to annoy me so much when my Mother did it." 

Thanks for the comment! I agree being seen as a man does equal being seen as some sort of a threat. Plus, there is also the sexuality facet which needs discussed. How many men want to approach a woman from a sexual aspect. Women on the other hand, especially attractive ones have grown up suspecting men because all they want is sex. Or men too, appreciate the chase of a woman and grow restless after they have "won" the "battle" for the woman they were approaching. During my dating years, I was most likely too timid in my approach to women. I didn't want them to think I was only into them for the sex. When in reality I just wanted to be just like them. I wanted to be the hunted not the hunter in a relationship. I thought life would be so much easier if for once a girl would have to ask me out, rather than me going through the torture and the nerves asking a girl out. As you can guess, I was often rejected and most of the dates I went out on were set ups by friends. Actually having a date on my arm helped solidify my standing in the guy community. The date went right along with me driving the best car I could and playing as many sports as possible. All of which were covering up my deepest, darkest secret. All I wanted was to be a girl. 

When we cross the gender frontier and earn the chance to have casual conversations with other women, as Paula said we essentially learned a lesson in gender communication. We are now "safe" and have escaped the rigid boundaries of gender discussion. It is no longer forbidden to compliment another woman on the simplest thing such as her earrings. I learned very early, a simple compliment could open the door to knowing another woman so much better. The more we talked, the more I learned about what the other woman may be thinking about me being transgender. 

The only time (and it was rare) I was perceived as some sort of a threat was when another woman's man entered the picture. I said it was rare because most all men had the tendency to leave me alone. It was when they didn't, the claws began to come out and I had to retreat. As far as I knew her man was just being friendly and was attempting to insert himself into our feminine communication which Paula alluded to. 

Sadly in this day and age women of all types are being subjected to more gender threats. If and when a transgender woman achieves a completely passable image, then she is faced with "surprising" a so called unsuspecting man. Violence could follow which leads to the very high rate of transgender murders. Very luckily in my case I was able to nearly avoid brushes with violence when I lost my male privilege of safety. I learned the hard way and was able to move on unscathed. I was neither the hunter anymore or the hunted. I wasn't a gender threat and it opened many doors I never expected to see behind. The trip was worth it.