Almost daily I hear about new members joining our Group. For some, they have been in the transgender scene for some time, for others, it may be their first week.
Before we get to the basic safety precautions, consider this – Does your spouse and family know about your TG status? If not and someone discovers you on the Web, is your TG status something they could use to blackmail you, etc.? What if your employer saw your postings? If you have nothing to hide and don’t care who knows about your TG status, life is easier and you may not have to read on.
For many years, I was very secretive about my TG status. I only corresponded with Tri-Ess members, as that organization has very tight confidentiality. Suddenly, with the death of my Police Officer nephew, three years ago, my last name has become public knowledge. At this time in my life, that’s OK. My family knows about “Teri” and I’m permanently ‘unemployed’, so no issues there. No one can use my TG status against me to negatively affect me. However, many of you are still employed and your spouse and family may not know about your TG status and if it were made public, such information would cause you great discomfort.
Whether you are new to the transgender scene, or an old pro, here are a few things to consider when posting on the Internet:
1) Never use your real Last Name on the Web.
2) When joining a Group, never list your true City location.
3) When joining a Group, never list your true birth date.
4) If the Yahoo Group, etc., you are joining requires a phone number, remember it can be traced through the White Pages, etc. Consider getting a cell phone under a different name and address.
5) Never post a photo of yourself which contains background scenes (such as your car with license plate showing) which could reveal your true identity or where you live.
6) Regardless of how comfortable you feel about a person with whom you are corresponding, don’t share personal information, which you don’t want your spouse, family, or employer to know.
7) NEVER share/post photos of other family members – especially minors, or other TG friends. Only you should be visible in your pics.
8) NEVER share personal information with someone you just met at a bar, restaurant, etc. In fact, if out in public and others have not “read you”, don’t “out” yourself to them.
9) When leaving a public place like a bar or restaurant, if someone took an interest in you, but you are not particularly interested in them; or if some weirdo took a fancy to you, make sure you are not being followed when you leave that establishment. Look for other cars coming out of the parking lot and see how long they are behind you. If they follow you for more than 3 turns, pull into a gas station, etc., and sit for a while and observe whether that vehicle followed you and is waiting on you.
10) If you are out in public and approached by someone (or followed) who makes you feel uncomfortable, go to a 24-hr. store like WalMart or CVS Pharmacy, etc. Stay inside until you see that the person has left. In a large store, if they follow you inside, you can ditch them by zigzagging through the isles and leaving by a different exit. If all else fails and you still feel uncomfortable, call the police. You don’t have to tell them that you are TG. Just say someone is following you and you don’t know why.
Note from Tasi: If you are deeply closeted, then Teri’s advice on your internet presence is certainly sound, but many of us have a strong online presence and sharing pictures of family and friends, particularly on just TG sites, is not only common, but rewarding with minimum risk. I know of many girls that share details of their lives yet still maintain their male privacy. Your greatest risk is likely your wife looking at your computer.