December 08, 2010
THE INTIMATE INSIDER
ASHLEY BOTTOMS: THE BOTTOM LINE
Article 01: Going out for the first time as a transgendered person
Being a transgendered person, I am often asked a lot of questions about who I am and what a day in my life is like. In these articles I will do my best to answer them:GOING OUT FOR THE FIRST TIME:
If you are transgendered like me then you have either thought about what it is like going out for the first time or you have done it already yourself and have your own story to tell.
For those who have gone out, each person’s story, while probably the same in many ways, are going to be different in scope and description, but in the end you decided to take on the risk and explore a part of your life that you only lived out in your imagination and wildest of dreams.
For those of you who have not yet ventured on outside into the real world, the world can seem like a very big, lonely, and scary place and going out dressed as the opposite sex is not going to make it any less intimidating. Let me tell you that even though you may be scared that this is a great time to make that first step. When I came out years ago there were no social networks or internet groups to be found and I never saw anyone transgendered out in public.
Now that has all changed and in my opinion, it is a great time to be transgendered, but there are still a few things to remember, so let me give you some pointers that helped me on my first time out and hopefully will help you as well.
FIRST: Congratulations are in order
For all of you who are seriously considering taking that first step out into the mainstream as he opposite sex let me be the first to congratulate you on this as this is a huge first step into your life as a transgendered person. Know that wanting and doing are two completely different things, and just as you want to go out dressed and see the world and have the world see you as the person you wish to express yourself as, that there are many things you will need to know and do.
SECOND: Confidence is key
Your confidence in yourself and who you are is going to play a huge role in your success or failure in going outside for the first time. Believing that you can do this is not going to be enough. What you need to do is to truly believe in who you are and have the utmost confidence in being who you are. This means being able to look people in the eye when confronted or confronting them and being able to speak clearly and smile. If you believe in who you are and have complete confidence in that belief, then others will automatically pick up on that confidence and believe in you as well. Confidence is seen as a positive and can be an attraction in a lot of things. Everything from a simple job interview to a sporting competition relies on confidence and going out and presenting yourself as the opposite sex is no different.
There are many times when I am outside that I will often run into people or situations and what I will do is to remember something that I say to myself daily. I will say to myself that “I am a woman and others believe that I am a woman”. This little chant will allow me to focus on my confidence in myself and help me to confront everyday things as I would if I were not transgendered, and it works. Most people in society have their own agendas and are not going to give you a difficult time, and you are bound to run into at least one situation that will test your fears. Always remember to believe in yourself and who you are and others will believe in you too.
THIRD: Try not to overdo the passing process
Sure it would be great if we all could pass 100% of the time and no one would give us a second glance, but this is the real world, and people notice everything about everything. What you need to do is to put your worries aside when it comes to passing and to just focus on the details that will make you look and feel good about being who you are. If you worry too much about every single detail then you are just going to cause yourself unnecessary anxieties and stress and you already have enough of that just taking on this task of going out for the first time.
What I would do is to try and have the outfit that you will ultimately wear picked out the night before so that way you can concentrate more on your mannerisms and building up your confidence for your big day. Remember that there are always going to be subtle things that are going to give you away and that there really is not much you can do about that, so do not put much worrying into that. Instead of worrying about the things that will give you away, emphasize on the things that help you to pass. If you have a great smile, then concentrate on smiling more, and If you have great eyes then be sure to compliment them and not hide them. Looking your best does not have to be stressful if you take the time to concentrate on your good points.
Also be sure to practice some of the mannerisms of the opposite sex. For example, if you are going out as a lady, be sure not to sit with your legs open and to speak more softly. If you are going out as a man try to hold the door for a lady and speak in a louder tone. Nothing can ruin the experience of going out for the first time like dressing as the opposite sex but acting as your birth sex. My advice would be to study other people and try to pick up on things, and do not be afraid to ask questions if you have friends who have gone out as the opposite sex already.
Fourth: Be sure to have a plan
Nothing is worse than getting ready and going out and having nowhere to go. If you have an agenda then stick to it, but if you are going out to just test the waters, then decide on a place and stick with it. If you are going out for the first time, your fears may encourage you to decide on a more private place like a lonely street or going out late at night, but I would encourage you to do just the opposite.
Now I know that being out in the daytime can be scary in of itself, but
Take my advice because most malls and shopping centers are patrolled by security and are safe, and most shops and stores have employees that are either accepting of us or are trained to expect transgendered people now, so why take a chance with your safety when you can go and not only be safe, but experience the whole social atmosphere of being in mainstream society.
FIFTH: Friends can be a good thing
If you are like me then you are on the information superhighway, now known as the internet, I am sure that most of you have friends or some sort of social network where there are more of you than you know, which is a good thing considering that when I was coming out I thought that I was the only one out there. If your comfort zone is going out alone then all the power to you, but if it is not, I would encourage you to seek out a real time social group or friends and perhaps plan to meet at a public location if you are nervous about going out by yourself. This option has 2 benefits as opposed to going out alone.
The first being that you and your friends can watch one another’s backs and that provides a safety net for all of you, which will put all of your minds at ease somewhat and will allow you to relax a bit and really enjoy your time out. The second benefit is that the experience of going out is shared and can be relived later on chatting with these friends, which in itself is a great benefit because most people tend to have a great time when they are in pairs or groups.
SIXTH: Always play it safe
If something doesn’t seem right or feel right don’t dismiss it. If you feel a certain street looks dangerous then simply do not take it. If you feel like someone is following you, seek out a security guard or police officer because they are trained to know how to deal with these situations and they are also trained to work with the transgendered community. Just remember that safety never takes a holiday and if you run into a situation that you feel puts you in danger, do not be afraid and risk your personal safety just because you are dressed as the opposite sex.
SEVENTH: Responsibility and courtesy go a long way
be sure to be responsible and courteous to those around you. Even though you may be nervous, no matter what the location you wish to go out to, there is bound to be some sort of interaction with others. Be sure to set a good example because in some cases you may be the first transgendered person others might be experiencing and it cannot hurt to set a good example. Be sure to remember that just because you have chosen to explore the mainstream as the opposite sex that this does not give you a free pass.
LASTLY: Don’t forget to have fun
Although this is can all be overwhelming, remember to just enjoy yourself and to have fun. After all, that is part of the reason why you are going out in the first place. If you have the funds, why not buy something to cheer you up or treat yourself to a nice lunch and really take in the social atmosphere and experience? After all, you are celebrating your first time out in the mainstream as your true self.
Remember, you are taking on a whole new persona and with that comes stress and responsibilities, but also a chance to try and experience new and different experiences in a whole new way. So be safe, but also don’t forget to take it all in and have a great time, and after your day is complete why not share your stories with me because I would love to hear all about it.
Until next time…
Ashley Amber Bottoms
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