Jahn Westbrook

By jahn westbrook

Long about 8 years ago, that person was I. Married, with children, and a prisoner of my own identity dysphoria. Surreptitiously, I had joined Femme Fever, an online support group, of sorts. I was desperately trying to find those in tune with what I was feeling. There I was introduced to all manner of beautiful gender variants. I was then just understanding what it was to be part of the transgender community. Still, we were just avatars in a chat room, mysterious aliases on e-mail correspondence.

These girls offered their unconditional support, guidance, and shared their stories. In my naiveté, I tried to contribute, but found myself lacking in knowledge and experience. I was still married and made a commitment to that union. I valued that over the commitment to myself, sacrificing my own happiness. How misguided was I. My unhappiness affected and effected every aspect of my life and those around me.


Around this time, I was also in therapy. Unburdening myself, accepting my feelings, and accepting myself was a revelation. A limitless understanding of all the universe in nanoseconds. I made that mental shift that WE all have at one time, that internal change, that re-direction of focus. I knew I would never be able to, nor want to, continue to live life as I have been.

Chatting with the girls on that community site, helped draw Kimberly out. This was my reality check. My exploration of what I was feeling inside. And that other girls went through, were going through, exactly what I was, made me feel a camaraderie. It was a bit cathartic. I longed for the nights to last forever; the only time I could connect with those I had a kinship with.

So, when faced with the option of taking a road trip to Florida to visit people I didn’t really care to see, I said I couldn’t take the time off from work. This would be the first and only time -that is until my inevitable divorce- that I didn’t join my family on any trip of any kind. I felt guilty. I had so compartmentalized my life back then. But when I looked in the mirror, Kimberly smiled back at me, thanking me for this opportunity.

I became friendly with one of the girls online and we’d often veer off into a private chat. It was only a matter of time before we would meet. We arranged to meet at a bar local to me. I really had no idea what I was doing. *Here I must apologize to her. I didn’t notice if she ever showed up. If she did, I am truly sorry for missing an opportunity to chat and cultivate a friendship.

So, Wednesday evening finally arrived. Aflutter with nervous anticipation, I showered and exfoliated and took care of my hirsute face and extremities. Having slathered myself in lotion, and sitting at my spouses vanity, I proceeded to paint on my make up. Painstaking efforts to disguise the ‘obvious’ markers of maleness.

Make up completed. In record time too, just under an hour. I get dressed. A forest green corduroy skirt, with metal beads and floral embroidery. A jade green acrylic pullover sweater. Obligatory hose and black booties completed the outfit. Fitting my wig onto my alopecia pate, I head downstairs and put together my pocketbook. One of the community girls recommended making a pseudo ID card, with both my male and female likeness, and both names on it. Also, a brief statement about me being transgender. I didn’t have to use it —ever— while in transition. I felt more secure having it with me, though.

I arrive at the dive bar. There were a smattering of people here. I notice a pool table and immediately want to cue up a game. I cozy up to the bar and realize I’ve only ever ordered beer, no colorful drinks the cliché ladies typically nurse. I felt myself freeze. My upper lip perspires when I get that jolt of adrenaline. It didn’t fail me now either. Wonderful. I was already hot enough under the coat of foundation and concealer and…


The bartender turns around and she asks me what I’ll have. All I can think of is Vodka and cranberry juice. Another cliché. I can’t recall the brand, but I did ask for some domestic beer. I sat awkwardly alone, trying desperately not to look obvious.

Flash forward to later in the evening. A boisterous cross-dresser comes in with her friend. Her language is all afoul, relating her incident buying pantyhose at the Walgreens and the cashier giving her looks and attitude. I could imagine how it really went down. She was quite the commandeering sort, and unabashed. I secretly wished I could have her self-confidence and damn-it-all demeanor.

She locked eyes with me and slid over to sit next to me. She bought me some kind of drink and the three of us introduced ourselves and we talked for a long time. I felt myself feeling very tense. She sensed this and said I should relax. Invading my personal space, she rubbed my shoulders. I was getting really nervous. She then asked if I played pool. We shot a game or two.


I had no idea what I could be getting myself into. I felt I should stop drinking alcohol, but I just don’t have that switch in me. She started getting a little too close and I kept trying to subtly back up. I had NO backup plan. NO safety net. NO ONE to call to get me out of this. I frantically scanned the bar, hoping I’d notice the girl I was originally going to meet, but saw no new faces. The ensuing evening left me in fear of my trans-virginity and dignity.

At some point I end up talking to two women across the bar. They were friendly and were like a parachute to my falling into something I couldn’t escape. The crossdresser came over and almost acted jealous. That was what my feminine sense told me. The conversation drifted around. Then, I was asked if I were married. I said yes. One of the women held up my hand asking where my wedding ring was. I said it was unique and I took it off. The crossdresser took this as an invitation.

She leant over and asked if I had ever been kissed. I know I blushed. Not out of coyness. Out of shock and fear that this could end really bad. Thoughts flew through my head from being raped, to contracting HIV to being visibly bruised to who all knows what else. She leans into me, catching me by total surprise and kisses me full and hard on the mouth. I was revolted. I tried to pull away, but she kept leaning forward as I pulled backward. Finally, she couldn’t lean any more. I broke the lip lock.

She looked excited, turned on. Her eyes were virtually sparkling. I could only imagine what was going on under her skirt. I know I was past legally drunk at this point. The two women joked it off. Apparently, this crossdresser was a regular in this bar. They ordered me another drink and I took a healthy swallow to erase the residue of that invasion on my lips. I was petrified. What the hell am I going to do? If I leave, I’m on the street, totally vulnerable. Then it happened….

The crossdresser leans in and whispers in my ear not to leave, she’ll be right back. She finishes her beer, and proclaims to the three of us that she was going to the bathroom. She looked me up and down and said not to leave. She wanted to say good night. I watched her enter the bathroom.

Thank you Opportunity! I figured she would be in there 5 minutes at least. Time enough. The women said not to worry, she was harmless. Screw that. I grabbed up my coat, pocketbook, slapped a hasty tip for the barkeeper and fled to my car.

I didn’t want to be seen getting into my car, for fear of her getting my license plate, so I looked back and saw just spring darkness. I decided DWI was my better risk option versus what I felt was in store for me in the bar. I sped away -damn the seat belt- and around the corner. I was not familiar with the back streets, so I risked driving by the front of the bar versus getting lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

I saw her in my rearview mirror, in the fading distance, standing at the edge of the sidewalk looking in my direction. I felt I was too far away for her to get my license plate, so I tunnel vision focused on the road. I kept checking my mirrors for a speeding car, but none ever appeared….

mir, irini, peace, amn,



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