I went out last Friday night. Even though I spend much of my time as a woman (and therefore I’d “go out” all the time) I rarely interact with other people in the transgender community, so it was nice to finally go out to the twice-monthly “Girls’ Night Out” at the Bouncing Bomb pub in Oakville, just east of Toronto. Sianna Foryu (a transwoman that I became acquainted with on Facebook, and someone that I consider a friend even though we haven’t met in person until Friday) had been inviting me to go for over a year, but I never managed to find time for one reason or another. Having no excuses this time, I decided to go.

Make-up artist Jamie Bratslavsky fixing my make-up.
Make-up artist Jamie Bratslavsky fixing my make-up at the Bouncing Bomb on Friday night.

There were about 25 other transwomen there that night; some were crossdressers, but few were well on their way in their transition. There were also a few male admirers, and at least one transman as well. I spent a lot of time chatting with them, ranting about fashion, cosmetics, jewelry, life as women, and well, finding love, that sort of thing. We drank a lot (beer and wine for them, ginger ale for me) and joked, and flirted a little bit too. A Toronto-based makeup artist named Jamie (a gorgeous cisgender woman) was also there doing demonstrations. She even helped me clean up my lazier-than-usual make up job.

Overall, I had a great time.

As a couple of girls and I compared the jewelry on our hands (actually I didn’t wear any jewelry that night, and that was the point), something struck my mind. I have long forgotten how lucky that I am “built” the way I am. My hands are fairly delicate, and my facial and body features are quite neutral for both male and female. I’ll never be mistaken as a hot chick, but I can still pass as an average woman. And although I wear size 12 dresses, most people think that I’m smaller than I really am.

And there lies some of the challenges of being transgender. Our society expects women to look and behave in a narrowly defined “feminine” way. For transwomen, unless you blend in as at least a moderately attractive woman, you’ll still be ridiculed with terms like “men in dresses”, “sissies”, “drag queens”, “shemales”, “he-she”, “not real women”…or worse. (Sadly some of these insults are hurled at us from other groups in the LGBT community.) One time I was in the supermarket, a man who (probably) suspected that I was transgender followed (stalked?) me for 10 minutes, looking up and down every inch of my body from head to toe. Luckily I think he was “satisfied” that I was just a woman, and eventually left me alone. I can only imagine the fuss he would have raised if I had bigger hands, or more muscular arms, or broader shoulders…visual cues that I saw in other transgender women that night at the Girls Night Out. Indeed even some cisgender women are not particularly feminine; I can’t even begin to emphasize the jokes and ridicules they faced all their lives.

So for now, I consider myself very lucky…