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Out & About With Angela

| Feb 9, 2015
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Recently our columnist Dana Bevan wrote a piece promoting the idea that we must change the culture and not rely on laws and ordinances to make trans people an accepted part of society. I think that’s true and I have always counseled people to not be afraid of mingling with the general public. Only a small minority will bite you.

I like to go out for happy hour at nice places in my area. For some the thought of dressing en femme and going out to a happy hour for a drink may seem inconceivable. They fear what people will say (or what they may do) if they detect that the woman they have been checking out is “a man in a dress.” From personal experience I can tell you that they won’t do much of anything. (In any civilized venue.) They may tell their companions that they have “read” you. They may talk about it later at home: “Boy honey, you won’t believe what I saw at the bar.”

For several years I have been hosting a dance party called Angela’s Laptop Lounge at several local restaurants in the suburban Philadelphia area. These parties start at 10 p.m. and I DJ music from my laptop computer. The Laptop crew and I come in and make over part of the restaurant as a night club. We bring a sound system, flashing lights and decorations. The dinner crowd is usually clearing out when the trans crowd starts to arrive but there is an overlap of about a half an hour. We have never had anyone cause trouble when they noticed that the tall women coming in were born male. In fact sometimes the diners have stayed to drink and dance. Over the years we have held the party in several different restaurants and it’s always gone smoothly.

Angela out and about at a happy hour.

Angela out and about at a happy hour.

Just last week I stopped in to one of the old Lounge venues after a bit of bargain shopping and found my favorite seat at the end of the bar to be available. I ordered my food and drink (the bartender makes a great Cosmo) and did the typical thing you do while at a bar; I checked my email and messages on my iPhone.

While I was eating the bar filled up and the only open seat was next to me. A gentlemen approached and asked if it was occupied. I assured him it wasn’t and he sat down and ordered food and drink.

After I finished my repast and was working my way into my second Cosmo he engaged me in conversation. I like the British term “chatted me up.” We discussed the truck accident that had local traffic totally tied up. We talked about what he did for a living, the problems of aging parents, the happy hour specials and some other small talk. I finished my drink, paid the bill and said it was nice to meet him. He replied in kind and I took my leave.

I have no idea what went on in his mind. There are several possibilities.

He could have:

  • Not noticed anything odd about the woman he was talking with
  • Have noticed I was trans and been intellectually interested
  • Just been a friendly person who detected my gender status right away but will talk to anyone

Or any other combination of possibilities. The most important thing about the encounter was that it was the sort of normal, everyday thing that goes on when people gather in social meeting spots. Two people sat next to each other and ate and drank, then had a cordial conversation. That is one of those culture changing things that Dana was talking about in her article. If he noticed he was talking with a trans woman he didn’t suddenly stop and get scared. That’s a good thing as he will have interacted with a feminine trans person and be even more comfortable when he meets others.

If he didn’t notice anything, and that’s hard to believe, it was good for me as an experience. Nothing boosts your femme confidence more than a pleasant chat with a member of the general public.

If he knew I was trans then my presence at the bar showed him that trans people are just regular people who like great happy hour pricing and can engage in conversation like anyone else.

Of course the dynamics of social interaction depend on a number of factors. If you go into a restaurant with a group of trans women there’s little chance that the patrons won’t notice your trans-ness. If a single trans woman, who is young and attractive goes into a happy hour bar she is going to get a different kind of attention than a more mature woman. (Our Christine-Jane cartoon a few weeks ago illustrated that scenario.) If a trans woman goes out with a group of cisgender women that changes the dynamic. The point though is to get your confidence up! Be natural, not nervous and meet whatever reactions you get with poise. The more times people see us out and about being normal the more they will come to see us as just a part of daily life and not as weird, strange or scary. In other words coming into contact with trans people will just be normal.

Have you been out and about representing the trans community in public? Share your story in the Comment area.

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Category: Transgender Opinion


About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Assoc., Inc., former editor of its newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She was the Diva of Dish for TGF in the late 1990s and Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows.

Comments (1)

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  1. barbaraellis barbaraellis says:

    Very nice article Angela. I do agree that the more people get to interact with us they will soon find out that WE are just normal everyday people on this journey through life just like them. This is out time to shine!

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