by U. A. Nigro
The potential for them to be a victim to transphobic violence. A real fear that anyone who is related to a transgender person lives with on a daily basis. Since January 2016, there has been eleven transgender murders in this country. These innocent people were all murdered for one reason, simply because they were living the life they were meant to.
“I REMEMBER BEING A BALL OF NERVES THE FIRST TIME MY WIFE AND I WENT OUT AND SHE WAS DRESSED AS HERSELF.”
I remember being a ball of nerves the first time my wife and I went out and she was dressed as herself. We planned an overnight stay in New York City. Our thinking was, there is no better place on earth to get lost in a crowd than NYC. And no better place to celebrate your coming out, than the famous Stonewall Inn. We spent all day shopping for new outfits, new high heels and a new purse for her. She was not yet comfortable going into a fitting room, so we made sure to purchase a few things so she would have some options. Went back to the hotel and got all dolled up in our new dresses, I did both our hair and make-up then called a cab.
I did all the talking that night because my wife was not comfortable doing so for fear of being clocked. She whispered the address in my ear and I told the cab driver. My hands were unsteady, I remember wondering to myself “hope they can’t tell I’m slightly shaking.” Once we were out of the cab, I felt myself starring down passers by to see their reaction to my wife and I holding hands. Did they know my wife was transgender? Were we in any danger? Are they looking at us in a threatening way? This was a fear I had never felt before. It was overwhelming and uncontrollable. We decided to have a cigarette before we went in. I lit one up, took a drag and passed it to her, that’s when I noticed how delighted she looked.
“WE DANCED FOR THE FIRST TIME AS A LESBIAN COUPLE. SOMETHING SHE NEVER WANTED TO DO WHILE SHE WAS LIVING ANOTHER GENDER.”
She had a total look of exhilaration. It took me off my feet. I took my phone out of my purse and snapped a photo of her standing there in front of the Stonewall Inn. Smiling from ear to ear, like she knew the secret to the universe and the rest of the world wanted to know. She was having a totally different experience than I was. So I put on my brave face and we went in. Once inside, and around “people like us”, I felt slightly safer, or the drink I chugged down at the bar took the edge off. Not sure which was true. We danced for the first time as a lesbian couple. Something she never wanted to do while she was living another gender.
My guard was lowered and I was enjoying a night out with my wife. On our way back to the bar for a refill, I turned around and she was gone. My heart stopped, I immediately retraced our steps and found her being detained by a man. I grabbed her by the hand and told the gentleman that she was taken. It was loud and he defiantly had too much to drink. I’m not even sure if he heard me correctly. I found two open stools at the bar and ordered us another round. Five minutes later he was back, talking in my wife’s ear, telling her how very beautiful she was. He even asked her if he could kiss her. Could you imagine your partner being asked for a kiss while you are standing there? My wife said “you will have to ask my wife,” and pointed to me. I said although she was flattered, she was not interested.
Finally getting the hint he exited the bar. We waited for some time after that before feeling it was safe to leave. I didn’t know if he was lurking around outside, waiting to follow us back to our hotel. Although we enjoyed our first night out as Mrs. and Mrs. it did shine a light on some new issues for us. As soon as I had some extra money, I went and bought my wife a woman’s wedding band. This way she would never leave the house again with a naked finger. I decided that I didn’t care if strangers wanted to stare at us, their opinion of my wife and I has no validity in my life, and I will not let it define how I live. And the realization that I do not want to live out the rest of my life in fear for mine or my wife’s safety had been revealed. This is why I have chosen to speak up and speak out. It is so important as transgender allies that we all help to educate the population. So whenever and wherever I get the chance, I answer questions and pass on the proper information.
Transgender men and women do not deserve to be beaten, bullied, or murdered. They are not freaks and weirdos. They are human beings and deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as all other humans. They want the same things that most of us want, a roof over our heads, a way to earn a living, food to eat and the love of friends and family. So when the opportunity arises, be an ally.