I live in a small town in rural Nevada. I know most members of the police force here, and they’re super-nice to me and look out for my stuff.
Example 1: When I had the shop door open, and I was working on my car at 2 a.m. they stopped by to make sure it was really me and nobody was stealing anything.
Example 2: When I left my car door open for hours at night because it’s a moldy car that I’m trying to air out, they noticed something being out of the ordinary and they came by to make sure things were OK.
This is nice — and realistic. They’re not being paranoid. Crime is super-rare here but it does happen. Once, someone did come into my yard, break open the fuel flap of my dead old BMW and steal (as it turns out) about three gallons of four-year old gasoline from the fuel tank.
So all in all the police force here is wonderful both as a whole and as to the quality of the individuals.
Anyway, I recently needed some help towing my dead 1973 Volvo station wagon from one location to another, a mile away. My helper is my t-girl friend, who had come out fairly recently as a t-girl and though she’s pretty and clearly female in how her mind works, she’s also brilliant and she’s tried and succeeded at living in a guy role in guy culture. This means there are many bad habits for her to unlearn and sometimes she gets mistaken for a guy, which doesn’t exactly brighten her day.
Anyway, she’s very diligent and so she made a point of putting on really nice make-up and doing her hair and nails, and so she looked really pretty and feminine, even though she was only going to help me move some unimpressive stuff from one business location to another, in the dark of night.
For some peculiar reasons, I ended up messing up the schedule and so the move happened on the evening and night of the 31st, and we moved the Volvo at around 5 a.m., i.e., in the dark of night. The streets were empty with good street lighting and so I decided to not deal with putting add-on lighting onto the towed car.
Bad idea. Within half a block or so, I got pulled over by a local police officer. Yes, towing a car at night without trailer lights IS illegal but I was hoping nobody would notice or care.
The officer understandably was interested in my driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration, but since my friend was in the car behind me, someone also asked her for her driver’s license. By then two other police cars had also materialized.
What happened next is the main point of the story. She tried to open the window but didn’t know these were manual-crank windows and she was rummaging around near the door panel.
“She doesn’t know how to open the window,” said one officer, explaining to his peers what was going on, and the other officer graciously opened the door for her, from the outside.
“She.” Yes, she’s a girl. And her looks made it nice and clear that yes, dammit, this is a lady. Good validation, that.
My friend’s voice is not her most feminine aspect, and she solved the problem by handing over her driver’s license wordlessly. The officer took the license from her hand, and in a friendly way, he mused aloud that it’s a Maryland license and we don’t see many of those around. She didn’t say a word in response. And later, when he handed the license back, she still didn’t say a word. And, her being wordless in no way changed the professional, benevolent tone of the officers.
As for me, I’m known around town to be a t-girl since I’ve lived here for 20 years, and until 4 years ago, I was living in a male role and was very active in the community. And yet, the officers were completely professional, polite — and benevolent, in a sincere way that I greatly value. So, wherever one reads about small-town police being mean to t-girls, there’s at least one exception.
I’d expected the opposite when I came out as a t-girl, and I had expected that in order to be treated civilly, I’d have to move to Las Vegas where, even while being weird, I’d fit right in. Wow was I mistaken. Choose the right small town, and people are nice to t-girls … the police, the fire department, the city employees, the hardware store employees, and almost everyone I meet. Over the span of my entire coming-out, I could count the exceptions — people who were mean to me — on one hand. People who were violent, or threatened to be violent: zero. Some places on the planet are just darn nice.