Hi Hannah, I’ve been cross dressing for almost 2 years now. Was it hard to go out in public for the first time, and what was your friends and family’s response?
It was hard to go out the first time, but each time I’ve gone out it has gotten easier. The first time you go out, I would recommend going to a PFLAG meeting or another LGBTQ support group. Knowing you are going to meet a supportive group of people will make our first time out a little easier.
Before you go out, please make sure you are ready. Before I go out, I always make sure my purse has:
That’s the fun stuff. The reality is that I have a lot more in my purse than makeup. I recommend every t-girl have the following in their purse:
-Cash. This is pretty obvious but I use cash for everything when I go out. If I want to get a coffee or need to pay for parking, I use cash. I like cash because I don’t run the risk of turning over my credit card (with my male name) to a cashier. I also bring my debit and credit card just in case.
-Proof of car insurance. If you get into an accident or get pulled over, you’ll need to provide proof of insurance. Simple enough but plan for the worst.
-Fully charged cell phone. Pretty self-explanatory. You’ll need it in case of emergency. Any emergency.
-Roadside assistance information. You need to know who to contact if you get a flat tire. Sure, I can change a tire myself, but no way I am doing that in a dress or heels.
-Driver’s license. Again, if you get pulled over…
-Spare car key. If you’re not used to carrying a purse, you might forget to place your keys in it. A spare key tucked in your purse saves a call to a locksmith.
-Medical insurance card. Again, plan for the worst.
-A friend. I don’t mean bring a friend with you, though shopping is a lot more fun if you do, but if you’re out to anyone in your life, drop them a message to let them know you’re stepping out. It’s good to let someone know you’re out on the town in case you need help.
-I would also recommend downloading the Uber or Lyft app. If you run into car troubles and need help, having this on your phone can be a lifesaver. I have an app on my phone and I have multiple accounts associated with it. One for my male life, one for Hannah. I’ve used Uber as both genders and I’ve never had an issue.
Where should you go?
Anywhere you want, but plan ahead. Is there a GLBT friendly coffee shop in town? Maybe start there. Or a GLBT bar? That’s another option. For your first time out, some of us go someplace where they’re used to seeing girls like us. It’s important to get used to being out in public and it’s easier if you know you’re not the first t-girl, or the only t-girl there. If there’s not a place like that in your area, I bet there’s a PFLAG or a Tri-Ess chapter that meets near you.
Being comfortable out will take time but you will get there. I never thought I’d go to a restaurant or a mall or a gas station in heels, but I do it all the time.
Not comfortable yet in your area? Drive to a bigger city. Get a hotel room there, have an adventure! Bigger cities tend to be more liberal and open minded than smaller towns. When I go to downtown Minneapolis, I walk down the street confident in knowing I am not the first or last transgirl to strut that street that day. Bigger cities have seen girls like us before.
Will people see you? Of course they will. You’re out in public. Will they point? Will they laugh? Will they whisper behind your back? Maybe. But really, so what? I go out all the time and very, very rarely does anything like that happen. And the more often I go out, the less I notice it. Will people recognize you? Maybe. If you’re afraid of that happening, again, go to a different town.
I know I was nervous people would point and snicker while I was out in the real world, but that hasn’t really happened to me. I’ve interacted with everyone from baristas to shop clerks to gas station employees to waiters and I’ve never had a bad experience. No one has been rude or laughed or anything. The world is a wonderful place sometimes.
Safety is the number one concern, of course. I know what parts of my city are safer and I’m sure you do too so don’t go there. Go somewhere where you can park in a well lit area as well. Going out for the first time is nerve wracking enough but going someplace a little iffy is just adding more stress that you don’t need.
Looking back, I have only come out to my friends who are LGBTQ, and it’s all gone very well. Now that I think about it, I have only come out to maybe five friends.
Coming out to my mom and sisters were both very different experiences. I think if I were to do it all over again, I definitely would do things differently. I’ve written a little about this previously. But, the short version is that my family loves me, they understand me as best they can and I love them.