Note from Tasi. Teri Lynn Richards is a retired police officer with an unusual sense of what works and what doesn’t work concerning safety issues for those of us in the transgender community. She speaks from the heart and with a lot of knowledge and common sense. I can only confirm the truth to which TeriLynn speaks from the many stories that I’ve read or have been told by others, so read, follow, and Be Safe
Hi Girls, Happy Holidays!
I’d like to share some information which may help you to make you life safer, enabling you to enjoy your TG (transgender) life to the fullest, while avoiding some of the heartaches many TG’s encounter.
Confidence is a key for personal safety. Confidence comes from positive experiences. Thus, it is important to avoid negative experiences, as much as possible. No, you’re not a failure when you encounter negative experiences. Use the negative experiences to build towards more positive experiences. Let me explain this.
I have a transgender friend who has encountered mostly negative experiences since she started living full-time as a woman. Why? After many discussions with her (and others), here is what I learned.
About 25 years ago, my friend, who we will call Lynn (not her real name), decided to live full-time as a woman. And a very nice-looking woman she became. She was so passable; she worked in large department stores in the Women’s Apparel section, among other jobs. Things were looking pretty good for her. However, eventually things went downhill for her – yes, even after several years of successful living and working as a woman.
How did this happen? Well, Lynn didn’t make a clean break with her old life. Lynn stayed in the same town, same neighborhood, and with her same friends. So, what’s wrong with that? You’ve heard the saying, “What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.” Don’t ever believe that! If you do, I have a real Santa Claus to introduce you to. He flies down from the North Pole every Christmas………..
OK, you get the point.
Well, what happens when we have friends? If you have friends long enough, you will have disagreements – maybe even fights. Sure enough, add a little alcohol and things will get stirred up. Before she knew it, Lynn’s “friends” called her employer and “outed” her. And if you believe you can’t get fired for being transgender, I’ll sell you a bridge in Arizona. The employer will just list the reason for your firing as “not meeting standards of employment.” That can cover everything from being late once or twice, to misuse of the employer’s equipment (computers/telephones), to being a distraction at work. Unless you have never made a personal phone call from your employer’s telephone, on his/her time, you are a candidate for firing. Trust me, there are hundreds of cases of such dismissals and less than a handful of appeals have prevailed against the employers.
Here is another example from Lynn’s life. Seems she once roomed with two or three other folks. Two were TG people and the landlord claimed to be “straight”, but TG-friendly, holding a respected position in the community. That alone should have aroused Lynn’s suspicions. Why would such a person, who states he is straight, advertise that he was particularly looking for TG roommates? Don’t fool yourself and think that this person was an enlightened individual and just did not want to discriminate against TG people who may be looking for an apartment to share. Sorry, there is still no “free lunch” in our society.
We’ll cut this story short by saying that eventually there arose some disagreements among the roommates, ending in a lawsuit. And as if that were not bad enough, when Lynn was in court, the two TG roommates (who had, sided with the “straight” landlord) appeared in court and “outed” Lynn, calling her unbecoming names in open court – Judge Judy’s Court. OUCH ! (Never go to one of those Courts if you’re trying to remain in stealth-mode.) Did she need that? Do you ever want that to happen to you? If not, then the following advice may help to keep you from experiencing such negatives experiences.
Please, even if you disagree with these recommendations, remember that this advice is taken from real-life situations, and from my 30 years in law enforcement. Therefore, I may not paint the rosy picture some would like to believe in, but I think it will keep you from experiences you do not want to endure.
My first advice – if you are a part-time CD (crossdresser), be careful with whom you share your “secret.” In a heated moment, your best friend may “out” you. Not to forget that there are still those who hate us, for no other reason than that we are crossdressers – and some still enjoy inflicting harm to our kind. If that does not concern you, fine, share with whomever you like, but, remember, the consequences may be more than just public embarrassment (friends, family, & neighbors). You may lose your job (consequently, your house, etc), your spouse, and family.
My best advice – be very discreet.
If you are a pre-op or post-op TS (transsexual), or a full-time CD, make a new start of your new life, if at all possible. MOVE – if at all possible! If moving is not possible, try everything to make it possible. I see this as the only sure way to start with a clean slate. It’s the best way to avoid the heartache which Lynn encountered. More about relocating later.
Keep your past “your past.” What’s past is past – do not tell others – ever. If no one knows your past, you have nothing to fear. If you transitioned on the job, it would still be wise for you to get a new job, or transfer to another job-site with your employer (if they have more than one location). Just like old friends, co-workers will spill-the-beans, regarding your “secret,” and usually at the worst possible time. In the worst-case-scenario, we may find your picture in the obituaries. If you’re lucky, we may only read a complete detail of your life in the local gossip column (or company bulletin-board) – courtesy of a co-worker. If you want to avoid that, find a new job and a new neighborhood.
The new neighborhood should be far enough from your old one so that there is virtually no chance of meeting people from your past, whom you do not want to meet. A new city is always the best choice. Yes, this will inconvenience you a great deal, but that beats winding up as a statistic in the obituaries. If you truly keep your “secret” a secret, then there won’t be those moments when someone confronts you and says, “I know you’re not really a woman.”
Let’s go back to Lynn’s story. While still a pre-op TS, out in a bar one night, someone approached her and said that he knows that she is a man – a fagot sissy man, etc, etc. Well, what to do now? Not being confident, and unsure of how to react, Lynn thought that the best defense was to launch a counter-attack, so she smacked the guy in the face. Yes, before she knew it, she was in jail for assault and battery. Naturally, the bully’s friends told the police that Lynn was drunk and hit him for no reason. So, how did this bully know? You see, Lynn was still in her old neighborhood, running in the same circles as before and during an “alcohol moment” she told someone about her past.
Don’t make the same mistake Lynn made. Lynn believed that everyone who patronizes a gay bar or gay restaurant is TG-friendly. Not so! These bar “patrons” may humor you for a few weeks, even months, and then, suddenly, they will turn on you for being TG. All it takes is one drink too many, or some stress in their life, for which they need some relief – and suddenly you become their target. Besides, there are the occasional red-neck/gay-bashers who go to gay bars just to have “fun” by finding TG’s whom they can humiliate, or worse. Why set yourself up for such an encounter? If you are totally “passable”, or even reasonably
“passable”, you may be better off in a straight bar or restaurant, because no one there is expecting you (as a TG) to be there, so you will just blend with the other folks in the establishment. Isn’t that a better-way-to-go?
I notice that when I’m at one of our local transgender-friendly restaurants, people inside the restaurant and people walking by on the sidewalk, often slow down or stop to get a good look at us as CD’s. Why? Because this restaurant is in an area of the city known for its TG lifestyle. They expect, even hope, to see CD’s/TS’s, etc, in these restaurants. In regular restaurants in other parts of town, I get looks, but not nearly as often and not as long, because no one is actively looking for a CD. And many of the looks I get, I attribute to men looking at a woman, because that’s what men do.
When you do get “read,” your best defense is a big smile. It totally disarms people. In my early days as a CD, my worst fear was to be detected as a CD. Whenever that happened, I would lower my head and look down and be embarrassed. It took me a long time, with much encouragement from others, for me not to feel ashamed because I am a CD. Once I tried the smiling routine, I noticed that people would smile back or look away, rather than look at me and try to figure out what or who I was. If you don’t act weird – don’t act ashamed – others won’t treat you as a ‘strange’ person/weirdo.
Be proud of who you are, but be proud without flaunting it. A GG (genetic gender) woman does not flaunt that she is a woman. Yes, she is proud of it and dresses the part (mostly), but she does not wear such outlandishly feminine clothes that she draws attention to herself as a woman (unless she is a hooker). Now, that does not mean that women don’t dress nice and don’t like to be noticed. Oh yes, they wear nice clothes because they want you to see how nice they look. However, when a woman dresses nice to attract a bit of extra attention, she does not dress to the point of looking outlandish as a woman. Too often we as CD’s want to look overly feminine/sexy. We dress in poor taste – so that we do not blend with the average woman around us. If you want to pass as a woman, blend as a woman. (If you are a FtM (female-to-male) CD, this also applies to you. Most men don’t run around looking like Paul Bunyan or Hulk Hogan – so why should you? Blending is the true key to passing. Most of us will never look good enough to fool everyone, but we can look presentable/respectable and that will go a long way towards others accepting us.
If society sees that we are attempting to present a respectable image, we will be respected in return. Look outlandish and you will suffer the consequential sneers. And one more item of advice for passing – practice. Practice speaking in a softer, quieter voice. Nothing is worse, for “outing” yourself than to sit in a restaurant and just about the time that the other patrons have stopped looking your way, you or someone of your group speaks up in a loud, male, bass voice while talking to the waiter or to make an announcement to the group. No longer do the other patrons have to guess what you are, no matter how well you thought you “passed”. And if you were unnoticed until that moment, now all eyes are turned your way. Yes, do your best to develop a feminine voice. Nothing is a bigger give-away than for a reasonably good-looking woman to be sitting in a restaurant and the people next to her to suddenly hear a loud, deep, voice coming from that short and sexy skirt.
Men have a tendency to want to be heard by all. Women speak in soft tones, without broadcasting their voice through the entire restaurant. If you want to look like a woman and be accepted as a woman, shouldn’t you act and sound like a woman? Besides, not attracting undue attention to your CD group, while out-in-public, is just plain common courtesy to the other members of your group.
If you do not think that it is important enough to work on developing as feminine a voice as you can, and as feminine an appearance as possible, then perhaps you are not a true crossdresser; but rather you are just a person with a fetish for women’s clothing. Yes, there are those who don’t care much about their appearance. Whether or not they present the image of a female does not matter to them. They are happy just to be out, wearing women’s clothes in public. These folks are not too unlike exhibitionists and sometimes they associate with crossdressers so that they can appear in public with some sort of a legitimate cover for being dressed in public, as they are.
From reports I have read, these folks are the ones who are most often harmed by strangers. My personal advice — if you enjoy a fetish for just wearing women’s clothes, do so in the safety and privacy of your home, or limit your fetish to wearing women’s undergarments, while out-in-public. Why look deliberately foolish? Why make yourself a target?
Back to Lynn… When she told me of her horrible experience in the bar, I suggested that she could have handled it by replying: “Well, I don’t know what made you think that, but I’m shocked. Do I look like a woman to you?” At that point, your the accuser should apologize and say, “I’m sorry, you certainly do look like a woman.” If he does not, your best move is to excuse yourself to the restroom and from there duck out of the establishment at the first opportunity. That will prevent the situation from going down-hill. Punching a guy is certainly not the answer. And here is my point – had Lynn moved to a new town, and not told anyone of her past, probably no one would have ever confronted her in this manner. Is it difficult to give up your old friends? Yes. Is it difficult to keep a secret? YES ! However, is it less painful than encountering what Lynn encountered.
Some may ask how to handle a romantic situation. Those moments don’t come upon you without warning, so you have some time to prepare. If you are a full-time CD, or a TS, dating/sex are issues you may encounter. When you are out and encounter someone who has taken an interest in you and begins to talk to you, they usually will say something like: “Hi, how are you? Or, “My, you look nice.” Your immediate reply could be the ice-breaker and the key to your safety. You could answer: “Thank you. I wished I felt as good as you say I look.” Or you could say, “I’m not doing so well today.” The natural reply will be, “Why?” Now you have the opportunity to find out what this “nice” person thinks about TG folks. Your next reply could be: “Well, my best friend just told me that he/she is a crossdresser (or transsexual) and I don’t know how I should take it. What would you do if you were in my place?” Listen carefully – here comes the clue you need in order to know whether this is the person you can confide in and maybe date.
You may ask why you should confide in them about your TG lifestyle. From the numerous police reports I have researched, most assaults on TG’s occur when someone, who is expecting affection (sex), finds out that he/she has been led to believe that the other person (CD/TS) is something other [gender] than what they expected. Yes, homicides have resulted from such encounters. Are you ready for that – for a moment of thrill because you were able to convince someone you were really a woman when you are not? Oh yes, in your eyes, you are a woman, but not everyone sees what you see. So, honesty is still the best (and safest) policy.
Let’s talk a bit more about the occasional CD? Do you need to start life over by moving and dumping all your friends? No. I have not done so. Most CD’s learn to whom they can reveal their “secret”. You probably know quite well, who, of your friends, would be comfortable with you, knowing that you are a CD. Most of you know who will accept your TG lifestyle. You may not have to move, but you should be discreet about where you go while dressed in your “other” gender, especially if you are married and have a family.
You may not care what others think of you (if they know you are a CD), but, how would your spouse or children feel if their father is known as a CD? If your family and relatives all know and accept you in your “other” gender, then you are miles ahead of many of us and some of these precautions may not apply to you. But, don’t forget about your employer and co-workers. What would they think? Not all of them are as open-minded as you may think. Many folks are very good at having others think they are enlightened; but when it comes to challenging their feelings about gender, suddenly, just as with politics, you may get a real surprise.
People don’t always tell you the truth about their personal feelings. For example, with over 70% of registered voters in California claiming to be Democrats, how do we occasionally get a Republican governor? It’s simple – what people profess to believe or support is not always what’s truly in their hearts. Honesty sometimes only comes out behind the curtains of the voting booth. So, don’t be fooled by the smiling faces in the office when a recent TV program about crossdressing is discussed. They may smile at the story in the presence of their friends and you; but, unfortunately, when alone with you, a TG person, they may stab you in the back.
Personally, I had to be very careful not to reveal my after-hours-status to anyone at work. Although lesbians were welcomed with open arms at work, CD’s are considered weird or sick – sissies, unfit for law enforcement. Lesbians going into law enforcement are viewed as joining the macho realm and, therefore, are welcomed. MtF crossdressers, however, are viewed as being weak because they are moving from the macho-role to a “weaker” role as a woman and thus are despised. In some cases, job security can be compromised and in extreme cases, your life could be in jeopardy. Unless you’ve been in at least one shootout, which is viewed as a very macho experience (and hopefully you have some scars from it, and better yet, saved a fellow officer’s life while taking a bullet and still surviving), you will not be favorably thought of, once they discover your “secret.” Apparently, getting shot proves you are super-macho. So much for the law enforcement crowd.
Upon retirement, I was finally relieved of the stress of the possibility of my employer and co-workers finding out that I am a CD. I no longer have to worry about someone confronting me about my crossdressing on a Monday morning, after perhaps having seen me out crossdressed during the weekend. Nor do I have to worry about someone pulling a “Serpico” on me during a raid or search warrant service.
I know that after being in-the-closet for so long, we tend to throw caution to-the-wind and we want to let the whole world see the new “me,” once we get up the nerve to go out in public. I hope you see now that this may not be the best thing for us to do. No, I’m not advocating that you continue to hide your “other” gender, but be very careful when and how you reveal it. I have to add one more incident from Lynn’s life. Lynn is fairly tall, so she stands out wherever she goes. She has to do nothing to draw attention to her self. Well, even though she lived as a pre-op TS for many years – because she remained in the same neighborhood, her “secret” was not a secret. Some of her neighbors had doubts about the rumors they heard about her, while others believed the rumors and continually heckled her anytime they saw her. Sometimes Lynn would get into a depressed mood for long periods, so she didn’t take care to look feminine. While she was doing yard work, her neighbor spotted her in a flannel shirt, hair messed up, not looking particularly feminine. Yes, she looked more like a man doing the yard-work. Her neighbor made a comment to her about her appearance, stating that she sure didn’t appear to be a woman (as he had heard and now believed).
That did it – the fight was on. This encounter smoldered and erupted into flames one day when Lynn said something to her neighbor, who promptly chased Lynn into her house and beat her quite badly. To add insult-to-injury, Lynn was alone and the neighbor had “witnesses”; so when Lynn called the police to file trespass and assault charges against the neighbor, Lynn was the one carted off to jail – again. Lynn started this fight because she felt insulted. I can understand her feelings, but what was she thinking? Did she think that she could fool all of the people, all of the time? Besides, Lynn has been on hormones for so long, she no longer has the strength she had before she transitioned. (If you must fight, make sure you can whip your opponent.)
I should mention again that Lynn is attractive, if she just brushes her hair and wears even half-feminine clothes. Add some make up and nail polish and she’s a very nice-looking woman. So what causes her these problems? A careless moment – feeling depressed and not caring about her appearance – and not leaving the neighborhood, where everyone knows her status.
Don’t forget, if you move to a new neighborhood, leave your “secret” behind. Either appear all-the-time as a female (if you are a full-time MtF CD/TS), or always appear as a male (if you are a full-time FtM CD/TS). This applies to appearances outside of your house for extended periods, such as yard work, washing the car, or walking your pet. If you are crossdressed and just jump into your car to leave for a TG meeting or dinner, etc, hopefully you won’t be visible long enough for your neighbors to get a good look. If questions arise because they did see you, you can always claim that the person they saw was a relative; or you can tell them that it was you and you were on your way to a TG meeting (if they are that open-minded). If they are not open-minded, tell them you were going to a role-reversal party for sensitivity training. You know your neighbors well enough to decide what answer to give them. But you should have an answer ready. Nothing is worse than being questioned and then looking embarrassed as you search your mind for an answer. Been there – done that. Now I have my story ready – and it’s my final answer.
One last bit of advice – if you are out “dressed” with your spouse and your spouse says that (s)he senses that something is wrong (or if you are alone and suddenly sense danger), don’t debate it or ask questions. Get out of the area and head to a safer, more public place immediately! You know what they say about women’s intuition? My wife has probably saved my butt more than once.
I have not discussed the routine items, such as carrying pepper spray or Taser (which I highly recommend), or having a car alarm, a cell phone, etc. I think these safety tips appear often enough on the local news & Internet and most of you are aware of them. However, if you are interested in some of these tips, contact me and I can direct you to some good web-sites, or give you my personal recommendations.
So, enjoy your feminine-self. Don’t be ashamed or hide it, but, when out, don’t push it past reasonable limits. The life you save may be your own.
Be careful out there – while kicking up you heels and having fun!
If you have questions about your safety, feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org