Out of the Closet

All Dressed Up And... Everywhere To Go! 

By Heather Lee 

Most transgendered people want to share themselves with the world.
Why? Because, much of our self perception is derived from the
communities with which we identify ourselves, the "community nature of
self." Our desire to interact with the world, to be "out," is
only natural and healthy. Being out, especially the first 100
times, can be simultaneously exhilarating and frightening.  

Some simple forethought and planning can make your experiences
out, both fun and memorable. Here are some tips to consider, and
questions to ask yourself, for enjoying a safe and lovely time
out. 

Step One - Identify Your Goals? 

First ask yourself, "What do I want to accomplish by going out?"
"What are my goals?" For example, your goal may be to integrate
your transgendered personality into everyday life. It may be to
enjoy the occasional evening out for dinner, or an afternoon shopping
with a girlfriend. No matter, you need to understand why going
out in public is important to you, and what you hope to accomplish
by going out. Where you go, what you do, and how you conduct yourself
will have everything to do with the answers to these questions.

Step Two - Consider Safety 

Your goals should be evaluated in the context of two important
issues: your personal safety, and your ability to "pass." The
issues are separate, but related enough to consider together.  

In today's world, no matter who you are, safety should never be
forgotten. Things have improved for our community; however, the
general level of safety in our society has deteriorated, and you
must always be vigilant, and keep yourself out of uncompromising
situations. A general rule to remember, the less attention you
draw to yourself, the less likely you will be the target of nefarious
deeds.  

Related to safety is the business of passing. Really, this need
not be a problem. Dressing in a style that blends in with the
local fashion of women in your age group is probably one of the
biggest steps in the right direction.  

Short skirts and extremely high heels draw a great deal of attention
- no matter who is wearing them - overly risque clothing is one
of the best ways to be read. Avoid clothing that draws a lot of
attention; unless of course it is your desire to be "noticed."
There are certainly situations where that might be appropriate.

The really good news is that regardless of your ability to pass,
the vast majority of people really don't care. Your feelings
about yourself have as much to do with your ability to pass as
just about anything else. The prevailing rule here is common sense.

You are responsible for understanding the laws regarding your
transgendered activity. In some cases, it is possible to obtain
a picture id explaining your situation if you happen to be stopped
by police.  Regardless, if stopped by the authorities, make certain
you cooperate, and explain in the clearest and most honest terms
possible why you appear the way you do. Remember, if you act responsibly,
with pride and dignity, you can enjoy your time out. 

Step Three - Where to Go 

All dressed up and where to go? Well, depending on your goals,
and your confidence in going out, there are a very wide range
of choices. The key to enjoying a wide variety of choices in public
outings is largely a matter of personal confidence. As you gain
confidence in your "new" gender role, you will discover a wider
variety of public places open to you.  

If you have never gone out in public, or are an infrequent CD,
a great place to meet people and start to gain confidence is
a support group. If you're reading this, odds are you can find
a local support group in your area via TGF. Also check for clubs
that cater to transgendered people, they do exist.  

For the more adventuresome consider a quiet romantic restaurant.
One thing to consider when going out, especially for dinner,
is how comfortable you are with your voice. This may sound rather
simple, but if you go out to a place that requires you to speak,
you will have to speak . . . . be prepared if you put yourself
in this situation.  

Bars and clubs can also be an alternative if you're into night
life. In larger cities, many bars and clubs exist for transgendered
people. Be careful about where, and what type of bars and clubs
you visit. In most you will be very welcome. Finding out in advance
the type of clientele that patronize an establishment is a good
idea (just in case).  

During the day time shopping is always fun. This is usually a
great activity dominated by highly tolerant people, women. But
beware, we are talking about shopping! What's is really important
is to do what you enjoy doing, what interests you. Engaging in
activities you enjoy will help you relax, and focus on something
beyond your appearance.  

Another option is to stay home and invite friends over. This may
not be as exciting as going out, however, it is a great way to
share yourself with others, and is an especially attractive option
for those who don't want to go out (for whatever reasons). 

Step Four - Select a Partner 

Like many things in life, the experience of going out in public
is more rewarding when shared with another. While not always possible,
it is worth the effort to find a partner. Not only will you have more
fun, but there is safety in numbers. Who to go out with? Simple.
A significant other is the best place to start. If you don't
have an SO, consider a support group member.  

For a great many people, the fear of going out in public can be
overcome by having someone to share the experience with. If you
haven't shared who you are with anybody you are close with, this
would be a great opportunity to share with someone you can trust.
It will help build your relationship, and your own personal confidence,
as well as providing someone to enjoy being out with. 

Step Five - Get Things Prepared and Forget About It 

After finding a friend to go out with, and selecting a place to
go, make whatever preparations necessary and forget about the
whole affair, until the appointed time arrives. Thinking about
things creates excitement, it also creates anxiety. Anxiety is
one reason that keeps people from going out. Make your plans,
get prepared, and DO NOT THINK about "it" until you are there.

Step Six - Go Out and Have Fun 

Ultimately what's important about all of this is that you go out
and have a good time. If you do a little thinking and planning
ahead of time, you can go out and enjoy yourself completely. Really
it's no different than everyday life. Some common sense precautions
will ensure a good time is had by all. 

Conclusion 

Going out in your transgendered personality is really no different
than going out in everyday life . . . . except . . . . we must
always remember that we run the risk of being read. Most people
in society won't notice, and don't care, for the few who do we
must remain on guard but otherwise, HAVE FUN! 

Tips for Going Out 

->1.Identify your goals. 
->2.Consider safety. 
->3.Select a place to go. 
->4.Select a partner. 
->5.Get prepared and forget it. 
->6.Go out and have fun! 

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Copyright 1995 Transgender Forum & Heather Lee