Notes on Gender Role Transition

Anne Vitale Ph.D. Editor


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Safety for crossdressers and transgendered

Safety; Pure and Simple

By: Grace Bock

August 3, 2000

There are a staggering number of articles that have been written by members of the transgendered community covering a vast array of issues. I have read numerous tales of first outings, brief sexual encounter, and shopping trips by the dozens. I have encountered step by step instructions on disclosing to loved ones, reviews of new books and movies that include a trans theme, and scores of exposés on surgeons and surgical procedures. Is there anything left to talk about? Let's talk safety.

 I believe that many who decide to undergo a gender transition, or should I say, simply felt there was no other realistic option, there are an overwhelming amount of things to consider as you prepare both physically and emotionally for such an endeavor. One of the last aspects of transition you may consider is that of your own physical safety. Yet this single factor is something that needs to be addressed in order to make this journey truly magical, not a total nightmare.

 True, few would change their minds about such an important decision if we knew firsthand that our safety might be at risk. But to consider the potentially emotionally and physically devastating a single bad experience can be, it would be worth a little time to consider what steps you may want to take to avoid such an unpleasant possibility.

Many of the comments and suggestions that follow are things that women all over the world have heard for many years. However, if you have lived most of your life as a man, many of these thoughts may never have crossed your mind. Remember that things are changing and you will need to keep up with these changes in order to be successful and sane.

 Where as there are many wonderfully polite men that will hold a door for you, there are many as well that feel this seemingly ancient attribute is less then a desirable trait for a "real man." Be aware of yourself, your surroundings, and the people that you are with. Remember that if you are viewed as a woman, things are now different than when you were thought of as male. Most men can accept a ride home from a party, no matter how they are dressed, or how much they have had to drink, and never need to give it a second thought. It would now be wise to think twice on such occasions before potentially putting yourself in a compromising position.

 Although I am not one for this type of approach, perhaps you might want to consider taking a self-defense course designed for women. These programs are offered all over the country; however, primarily in major cities. Check with your local police department, athletic club, or YMCA to learn more.

 Two things that I have done for many years for my own peace of mind, as well as that of my family and friends, is to always carry with me a cellular phone and pepper spray. Even though I feel that carrying some level of protection is essential to my peace of mind, they do not make me a Super Hero. The point is, however, to reinforce that idea that you need to adopt a new way of thinking about yourself in your social environment. You are different than you were and people, particularly men, may now see you as vulnerable. Consider that perhaps it is wiser to take a cab on occasion rather than walking or accepting rides from people you don't really know. Always have a friend walk you to your car. Be careful whom you are with, especially at times when the drinks are flowing.

As you may imagine, I have been studying gender for many years. This for me is not light reading and I am not simply a casual observer. I spend this time quite seriously. To me all of this time learning about alternate gender presentations the world over, has in fact been serious research. In this research I have seen something that occurs much too often, and can usually be avoided. What I have found is that mixing gender ambiguity, as well as sexual orientation, along with alcohol, is quite often bad news. Don't miss understand me, I have a drink or two on occasion and I am not suggesting that the entire LGBT community stop drinking. What I am suggesting, however, is to be careful! People quite often put themselves into situations when they are drinking that they never would consider when sober. For those who are pre-operative transsexuals, disclosures are almost always a nerve-wracking experience. Don't make things more difficult than they need to be. If you add to such a scenario, intimate details about your plumbing and the consumption of alcohol, things can quickly get out of hand. Sometimes it might be a wiser choice to stay home and read a book than to risk your life for a simple thrill and a meaningless one-night stand. 

If you need social interaction, I would recommend looking into LGBT support/social groups that meet in your area. These are typically an interesting group to spend some time with and very accepting as well. These gatherings are often beneficial to members of the trans community as the first experiences dressed in the real world. Even if alcohol is included at these functions, you are probably safer then out in and amongst the general public. Regardless, follow one simple rule: be careful!

 For those of you who are just now beginning your journey of transition my aim is not to frighten you. Nor is it to encourage you to have absolutely no fun. Nor am I suggesting that you never leave your home without bodyguards, guard dogs and a sub-machine gun. I just hope that you put a new level of thinking into your arsenal of thought. My hope is that we all live to fulfill our dreams and to be the persons we feel we were meant to be. Careful planning can go a long way to ensure that you road to freedom is not mired with avoidable pain and suffering. Do some careful planning and some research before taking the new you out into the world. Be proactive, not reactive.

 Good Luck!

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