Every year, November 20th is the day when transgender people, and those who support us, come together on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. We formally recognize trans people who passed away from unnatural causes (murder or suicide) in the preceding 12 months.
I hosted such an event today, in my apartment, just before dawn. In attendance was one other trans girl, a friend of mine who, just over a year ago, was living alone in the Chicago area, isolated, defensive. hard as nails yet embattled and struggling with depression. Nowadays, 14 months after moving to Nevada, she is out as a trans girl openly, sweet as pie, happy and thriving. She smiles in a warm way that I didn’t see at all, a year ago.
When we first interacted, she wasn’t suicidal but she didn’t see much point in going on, so I bought her a plane ticket and I convinced her to fly out to Nevada in case a different perspective might help. Indeed, it did. She loved it, and moved out here, and is living here happily ever after.
Part of today’s event I conducted solo, silently reviewing a list of the names, and the pictures of the faces of those deceased recently. My friend would not, I’m sure, have been ready for that as yet … her own memories from living near the knife-edge are still too raw. So, she and I had a ceremony focused on the positive.
I lit a candle, and we sat at my kitchen table talking about culture, and how the oldest generation seems to be the most hostile to trans culture whereas the youngest adults to a huge extent are understanding and supportive. Then again, I see hope everywhere. For example, last week I had a nice in-person conversation with someone who’d joined the Navy in 1943. That means he’s in his early 90s by now. I enjoyed his company and I am interested in his stories, so we exchanged email addresses. I wrote him a nice note and I also mentioned I’m a trans girl, in case that matters. I also defined the term clearly. His reply to all that was positive and he wrote that he’d like to take me to lunch sometime. Another one of my local friends hereabouts is in his 80s, and we get along fine a well.
Many older-generation people accept me as a trans girl, and others seem confused about the subject but they nevertheless accept me as their friend. They seem to have the mindset that regardless of whether I’m a boy or a girl or whatever, it doesn’t matter because I’m a good person. To them, that’s what matters. Essentially, they’re living by the principle MLK championed, whereby people are judged by the quality of their character. I love that.
This morning, my trans girl friend and I also discussed culture as influenced by geography, and how the Internet is enabling trans people to feel ever more connected and accepted, regardless of where we live — though everyday interpersonal local dynamics still mean a lot, and living where I do is very, very nice.
For example, I am 100% out. I don’t even own guy clothes any more. I’m a girl so I dress as the girl I am, openly and happily, and people in general tend to be very nice to me. Most days I feel like the girl in a classic perfume ad, portrayed as the center of positive attention, the one who elicits smiles from bystanders as she walks past. For me, having a bad day here is highly unlikely. Being in danger seems less likely yet.
Some of my friends currently choose to be sex workers. A large subset of that profession is illegal even though by free-market standards (which means, by my standards) it shouldn’t be. But, as things are, they have a dynamic with law enforcement that is so adversarial that they believe it incorrigibly and inevitably so.
By contrast, living where I do, my personal experience involves a police force that actively protects me from violence. My shop happens to be in the worst part of town and I work odd hours, yet I never feel unsafe. The worst thing that’s happened to my property is when a drunk guy took a short-cut through my yard a couple of years ago, and he walked on, and dented, the hood of one of my 6-series BMWs.
Many a time when a hood or door was open on one of my cars late at night, a local police officer stopped by and then recognized me and said, essentially: “Oh, it’s you. I just wanted to make sure nobody is messing with your stuff.”
I’ve sometimes wandered off and left my car door or trunk open for hours on end, and then there’s a polite knock on the door and a local police officer just wanted to make sure I’m okay. I generally feel like I’m the officers’ little sister, and I feel extremely well-protected. I love that.
I have a concealed carry permit, I am formally trained in combat handgun dynamics, and I own equipment consistent with that. Even though it’s always prudent to be vigilant, I love feel safe where I live, handgun or no handgun. The only time I’ve come close to removing my handgun from its holster in everyday life was when I was in a big city some distance away, and it was to protect another trans girl when someone admittedly high on crack was being hostile to her and then came toward her with possibly violent intent.
I enjoy being out and about as who I am, not just as a girl, but as a trans girl. I’m 6″ tall, I have muscular arms and a jawline like Rambo, so it’s pretty darn apparent to most people that even though my attitude is feminine, there’s more to the story. Not that a genetically integrated girl a.k.a. cisgirl can’t have my looks, but someone looking like me is more likely a trans girl than not. I’m fine with that. I am who I am.
Besides, the muscles I formed on testosterone can be practical. For example, two weeks ago, I needed to lift a BMW automatic transmission out of the trunk of a car and onto a floor dolly, and it wasn’t viable to use a hoist, so I just lifted the thing up by myself. Another example: last night I was at a grocery store when I saw a not-so tall couple eyeing a high shelf that contained a heavy product they couldn’t reach nor safely get down even if they could — but I could and did, and so two minutes later, they had four heavy bottles of drinking water in their shopping cart — and they were happy and appreciative.
This summer, there was a city council meeting about allowing pot to be sold inside city limits for recreational purposes. I don’t use pot but by free-market standards (which means, by my standards) it shouldn’t be criminalized, so I spoke up at the city council meeting as such. My voice doesn’t sound like silver bells. Clearly, when I speak, it’s apparent I’m a trans girl, and that’s OK. I nevertheless had something to say, so I spoke.
This fall I went to a public debate on keeping brothel sex work legal in Lyon county. I went there openly, proudly, safely and happily, with my red umbrella (the international symbol for the protection of sex workers).
I don’t hide that I’m a trans girl but do I like to go out looking as good as I reasonably can. I wear make-up that takes me about a minute to put on in the morning, and then I’m good to go. My boobs have recently grown quite large so most days I’m out wearing some or other elegant skirt, sexy shoes and a pink top with thin fabric and no bra underneath. I dress and walk like I’m proud of who I am — because indeed I am.
Meanwhile, I’m keenly aware of the problems elsewhere. A former girlfriend was from Brazil and she has trans girl friends over there, so she spoke to me with insight and concern over the situation there, plus it’s gotten much worse there recently.
My article today, then, is written with grave appreciation that my life as a trans girl is on a happy island in the middle of a large dangerous ocean where other trans girls are in danger. I write this as intended inspiration that a life of peace, safety, prosperity, harmony and happiness is possible for trans girls. Eventually, I hope my situation will extend to everywhere on the planet — but until then, I am conveying that it’s certainly the case where I live. I hope that my situation serves as inspiration for others.
I smile as I recall my trans girl friend’s smile illuminated in the candlelight, a couple of hours ago, as she essentially said: “This place really is where the American dream exists: where people are free to live their own lives as they choose, and if someone else is different, that’s just fine too. By contrast, in some parts of the country, if you’re straight, white, Christian, married to the same person you’ve always been married to, with at least one child, and you’ve recently come from the Klan meeting then you belong — but otherwise we don’t want you here.”
She’s happy to live here in Nevada, and so am I.