Being in Public and Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

GabrielleIt’s been a while since my previous post, which also happened to be about venturing out into public. Much has been going on in my life, including a rather important self-realization (which I’ll write more about another time).

A brief update to now
Since August of this year (2013), I’ve been going out in public (as myself, “Gabrielle”) about once a week. This includes meeting up with other transgender people for formal group activities, and also spending time at transgender-friendly businesses/locations on my own or with some friends.

It’s been inmensiely gratifying – meeting other local transgender people, making friends, sharing experiences, getting to know each other, and just plain being out in the world as my true self. I’ve been mostly sticking to transgender-friendly locations, though – at least when I venture out alone. It felt time to grow and step outside my comfort zone again.

Time to take some important baby steps
This past Saturday, I went to a local liquor store to purchase some beverages. It’s part of a busy shopping plaza and I had been there before in guy-mode.

After making my selections, I headed to the front desk to check out. The cashier, Sam (not his real name), asked for ID. It’s been a long time since I’ve been asked for proof of age when purchasing alcoholic beverages. In fact, I believe the last time was last century!

Awkward moment
My driver’s license was in my car. Even if I had it on me, the photo and info is of “Gabe”, not Gabrielle. I asked Sam if I really looked like I was under 30 (the age at which one must appear to look older than, so as not to be asked for proof of age). I’m over 40!

Remaining cool
Lisa (not her real name), the manager on duty, was called over to make a judgement call on whether they could sell me liquor without an ID or not. Thankfully, I had enjoyed some conversation with Lisa before, in guy-mode, and reminded her of our previous conversation. She paused for a moment, then did a rather amusing double-take and remembered me.

Enjoying the moment
I told Lisa, “Well, I do look a little younger when I’m wearing makeup, don’t I?” I turned to Sam, and said, “Yes, makeup does wonders!” They were both very cool to me and we had a laugh together about it (the makeup joke).

After completing my purchase, I chatted with Lisa for a while. She complimented my appearance, and I returned the compliment (not to be polite, but because she is rather attractive). We spoke for a while, then other customers came and she had to get back to work.

Shopping is an activity I usually reserve for when I’m guy-mode, especially if I’m going to be alone. Until now, that is. I’ve been working on living and experiencing more (life) as Gabrielle. Although this was just a small thing, it was so beautiful to see how cool everyone was to me. I’ve had some very uncomfortable experiences out in public as Gabrielle before, but this one was rather cool and very positive.

Being treated like a human
So I don’t look 100% female and I get “read”. I don’t mind so much – especially when people are so cool and actually know how to treat other people (who are different than they are) like human beings!

Silver lining
It used to annoy me when I got proofed, but not this time. Sam thought I might just be under 30. Talk about an ego boost!!

Good impressions open minds
Perhaps even more important than my own personal growth is the fact that I left a good impression with Sam and Lisa. If I ended up being a “story” they told friends/family later that evening, I don’t think the story would have be about some “weird-o” or “freak”, but rather a trans-woman with a good sense of humor, who knows her way around conversation about psychology and how artificial intelligence is being used as a powerful diagnostic tool in health care, both of which I discussed with Lisa.

Positive change, one person at a time
Transgender issues are starting to be brought up more in political discussions. Demonstrations and the political process have a place in bringing about positive change in society, but I much prefer the subtle approach – opening minds, helping non-trans folk feel more comfortable around transgender people, making friends, and leaving a good impression.

If you’re reading this, what ever your flavor of “trans” is, I hope you’ll choose to do the same, if you’re not already. It is a little scary venturing out into public (as a transgender person who is easily “read” as such), but it gets easier the more I do it.

Looked at, but not laughed at
Interestingly, even though I still get looked at (I do feel the eyes upon me) as being a “different person”, I’m not getting laughed at anymore. I don’t think I’ve been laughed at a single time since I started venturing out weekly in August. I’m sure I will again at some point, but it’s not a big deal. My greatness comes from within. No one can add to, or take away from it. Having that knowledge is very helpful. Feeling it is life-changing.



6 thoughts on “Being in Public and Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone”

  1. I also try to get out a few times a month. I know that I do not pass so I will not spend any time in fools paradise thinking that I do.

    I go primarily to T friendly places, most often LGBT bars or lounges. Every time I am out I chat with people and in my view with each new person that I encounter I do a form of outreach. Even if we never discuss and T issues and we stick to talking about sports or politics or current events or whatever…that person will have come away from the encounter having met a fairly well grounded person who happened to be a guy in a dress.

    1. Hi Pat, thanks for chiming in. :) You’re right – it *is* a form of out reach each time you interact, share, and leave a good impression with people you meet. It’s something we can all do, and we all stand to benefit from it. It’s also a lot of fun meeting new people and getting to know them. You nailed it – the conversation doesn’t need to be anything “trans” related. They’ll get the picture. We’re no different than anyone else, aside from everyone being different and unique, period.

  2. Sounds spot on: you put the other people at their ease about how to relate to you as a T-girl. If you are fearful, they will sense it and behave unnaturally. If you are open and relaxed then they are relaxed and natural too.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Demelza. :) You nailed it. People tend to reflect back what you put out. When they’re not quite sure how to act or react to someone, they’re looking for “instruction”, so to say. Even though I was nervous about the awkward moment when I was asked for ID, remaining cool, calm and playing the “humor” card kept things light and comfortable. Laughter is also an excellent way to expel nervous energy and feel at ease.

      I’ve read many accounts of tgirls explaining that passing and/or doing well out in public is a lot more about attitude than it is about physically being able to “pass”. It’s always made sense, and now I’m getting to the point where I can embody it, personally. I certainly don’t pass as female (despite how my carefully chosen online photos may suggest otherwise), but with a positive, easy going, and enjoyable attitude, people (so far) quickly warm up to me. It really is empowering – being able to connect with others (non-trans); strangers, out in public, and enjoy pleasant interaction.

  3. I just went out in my hometown for the first time. Although it was to a coworkers house (who is also trans) I never felt so comfortable. It almost felt like I had been there forever with that group of people. I think that the confidence I had is what made me feel settled, and also because I was around friends. What an uplifting experience! Hoping more nights like this happen!!

    1. That’s awesome, Jenna! Thanks for sharing! :) Yes, I believe you will have more nights like that. It sounds like you’re moving forward in a very positive way, so keep up that energy and ride that vibe!

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