Just when I thought I was past all the scary moments.. . I am caught unexpectedly by a new one. By scary, I mean those moments of transition where I enter a particular space in a particular way for the first time.
My first time “out” in public. My first time out in church. The first time I used the Ladies’ loos. And so on.
Anyway, after a year of firsts, I thought I’d done them all, but no: on Saturday morning, it was off to the local swimming baths with the boy and the arrangement of the changing rooms meant I had one of two options: Men’s changing area – or Women’s. No decision, really… although as I pushed open the door, my heart beat faster and I was half expecting to be met with a chorus of screams.
Well… I don’t exactly pass yet, so who’s to say I won’t be taken for some opportunistic voyeur in bad disguise? (After all, that does seem to be the not-so-subtle insinuation made by the Christian right in the US: us trannies, we’re really perv’s in disguise, doncha know?)
But no. No screams. Barely a raised eyebrow. Partly, I guess, because Women’s changing, unlike the Men’s area, seems to consist of many closed door cubicles – so no-one need get their kit off in public unless they absolutely want to. A bit of an anti-climax, therefore.
After the event, I found myself wondering, yet again, about just how afraid I should be of these moments. Not just me: but others like myself, transitioning, worried about coming out, worried about the reaction of the rest of the world.
It’s a theme I’ll get back to I think, over the coming months. I am never going to say that the transsexual community has nothing to fear. The assault statistics make it abundantly clear that: yes, there are people out there who see our very existence as somehow an affront.
Still, it leaves me wondering how far we – and I include myself in that – are responsible for creating some of our personal fear.
What’s the worst that can happen? Hmmm. I suppose I might get my head kicked in and end up seriously hurt. But that’s not what I am talking about here.
There are without doubt dangerous situations and all of us trans folk learn, early on, to avoid them or to take precautions when we must venture into places, spaces inimical to us. That’s wrong: there shouldn’t be “no-go” areas for just because of their gender – any more than “Whites only” areas were ever acceptable.
But there’s fear of real danger – and then there’s something else: fear of embarrassment. Fear of being rebuffed, turned back or told no. And so used are many of us to being thankful for our very existence, that we go along with this, accept the snub – and take whatever is allowed.
Very early on, I was explained the “rules of the game” by one medical practitioner. I should learn to pass because, by so doing, I would not be a threat to others. Huh? Me a threat to others? Isn’t this just a bit back to front?
But its there – an essential part of “trans 101”. Don’t frighten the horses: and whatever you do, don’t upset the cissies.
Except most are far more robust than that. On the whole, either thru political correctness or genuine couldn’t-care-less, I have encountered very few out-and-out negative reactions from women. I have been accepted into their spaces. I am made to feel welcome.
So: now that I have breached what feels the last scary frontier, at least for now, I shall remember that. I belong there, have a right to be there and most of the time, the only voice suggesting otherwise is my own.