In which some less than good things happen to me.
Phew this has been a really difficult article to write. For the first time in my ‘being out’ experience, I have had some less than good things happen to me. Now these things are certainly not the worst that can happen and in some people’s books may even be ‘good’ things but I did not enjoy them at all. Writing about the experience has been tougher than I thought it would be, but I have given it my best shot. As always I hope that my experiences can help and inspire others.
I went to Cape Town and Durban in late November on my final staff and client visits for 2016. This meant that I was able to get some dressing time in. Unfortunately things did not go as I had planned and in the process I learned some lessons.
My trip started with a morning (8 am) flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town. I left home at 6 and arrived at the airport with time to check in and have a spot of breakfast. I arrived in Cape Town and saw two clients (one over lunch). I then got to my hotel and did some work. I had planned on dressing and getting some dinner in Cape Town but I was exhausted. I have had a very busy few weeks at work and I think that all caught up with me. I therefore opted for an early night and decided to forego the dressing. Clearly middle age is catching up with me.
I was able to have a short lie in the next morning before seeing a potential new client over breakfast (it went very well) before going to lunch with my Cape Town staff. After lunch I raced to the airport and caught my flight to Durban.
I arrived in a very windy and rather cloudy Durban at 5 pm and I was keen to get ready for a night out en femme. I checked in to my hotel and was happy to be upgraded to a suite. Things were definitely looking up. I went up to my suite that was on the top floor and unpacked.
I ran my bath and whilst the water was filling up got on to Facebook. A person who I have been friends with for quite sometime but have never met before (and who I have had very little interaction with online, beyond the odd comment on a picture) saw that I was in Durban and asked if I wanted to meet up. As I had no plans other than ‘dress and go out somewhere’, I thought ‘why not?’ So I agreed and said ‘sure, lets get together for a drink’. He agreed and before very long I was getting asked some rather personal questions:
Will you be dressed en femme? To which I answered in the affirmative and I then asked if that was a problem for him (thinking that many, but by no means all men may be embarrassed to be seen in company with a trans person). He said no it wasn’t a problem for him and that he preferred that I would be en femme. Perhaps I should have seen this as a warning sign? He went on with the questions:
What are you wearing?
What shoes are you wearing?
Now I am not the brightest bunny in the hutch but I did start to get an inkling that all may not be well… Then my ‘friend’ dropped the clanger:
What room are you in?
I was frankly shocked. Why did he want to know this? It seemed that we had rather suddenly escalated from a drink to him inviting himself in to my room. This was not good!
I decided to take take back control of the situation and asked him why he wanted to know this. He seemed upset at my asking and said something along the lines of ‘well you said you wanted to meet up’. I reminded him that all I wanted and all that I had agreed to was a drink with him. I said that I would love to do that but that he was not getting my room number! Crickets. Not a word followed.
Now I am a big girl and I know that there are different people in this world and that we all have different goals and aspirations, but I was offended by this behaviour for many reasons. For starters I would have genuinely loved the company. I love meeting new people and getting to know what makes people tick. I also find being out alone less interesting than being with someone and I am frankly a little nervous of going out in a strange city. It can be easy to wander into the ‘wrong’ establishment. Having a local on hand with local knowledge is always a good bet. Call me old fashioned, but I also think that no matter what the situation, whether a sexual encounter or simply a social interaction, you wait to be invited, you do not demand access. So if someone says shall we get dinner? You assume that this is at a restaurant you don’t demand their address. Similarly if you would like to ‘take things further’ you don’t say ‘so what is your room number?’ No, you say ‘so shall we go somewhere more private?’ This is just good manners.
I was also taken aback at his attitude. I did ask him to clarify his behaviour the next day. But again… Crickets. I have subsequently unfriended and blocked him (over kill?) on Facebook, so I can now only conclude that whilst he was totally up for an assignation, in the privacy of my hotel room (incidentally that I had paid for), an assignation that would presumably mean (at least to his mind) that he would get to sticks bits of himself into various orifices of mine. So without (hopefully) being too crude, he was happy to fuck me but was too repulsed by me to be seen in public with me. Wow! That makes you feel good doesn’t it?
Apart from having had my feelings hurt by being treated as nothing more than a sex object to be ejaculated into, I was truly baffled on an intellectual level. Does this really work? If so, does it work with cisgender women or do only (presumably desperately lonely) transgender women fall for this? If we are so repulsive, so embarrassing etc, how can he bring himself to be intimate with us? Why would any trans person want to be intimate with someone who clearly thinks so little of you that he would treat you like this? I was also deeply saddened thinking of those transgender people, who may be less fortunate than me, who are lonely and who therefore end up being used by people such as this. On the other hand if that is what you want, then who am I to judge? I do however think we are all worth so much more than just a few minutes in a hotel room. Connecting with people, understanding another person and appreciating them is so much more important than ‘just sex’, surely? I am not saying people should not have sex and I am also not saying that a one night stand is necessarily ‘wrong’ but surely you would want to get to know someone, at least a little first? I recently wrote a piece on how some admirers objectify and fetishise us. I see no problem with consenting adults doing what consenting adults do, but it would be nice if this could be done without us getting devalued as individuals!
After this rather sad interaction I continued getting ready and decided to find somewhere to go for a drink. I remembered visiting a gay club that was trans-friendly on a previous visit to Durban. I tried finding it online but could not find any current information for it anywhere. I thought that it may have closed down but I was not sure, so I decided to try and find it. Unfortunately, I found its address, but it seems to have closed down, or moved and I was unable to find any other LGBT clubs in Durban. There is clearly a serious gap in the market.
I returned to my hotel but as the night was still young I thought I would go to the shopping mall adjacent to the hotel. Now I am always telling people who want to go out dressed that they need to be careful, ensure they know where they are going and most importantly start thinking like a genetic woman. The things you would do as a man are not always good ideas when en femme. One such thing is going to a mall at night alone. Women in South Africa seldom go out at night alone. A fact I am familiar with, but that, for some reason, I chose to ignore. Perhaps I was wanting to assert myself because I felt slighted by my potential suitor? Perhaps I was not thinking straight, I don’t know, but in any event I parked and walked to the mall.
I was walking around looking for a place to get a drink. I did not want anything to eat as I had had a big lunch in Cape Town and was still feeling full. So I went to the ‘entertainment’ section that is on the outside of the mall. On reaching one of the entertainment areas that look out onto the ‘square’ around which the restaurants are clustered I was approached by a young man. As he came up he greeted me and I half smiled at him but shook my head indicating that I was did not want to talk to him. He came up to me and said ‘might I say, you are looking particularly gorgeous tonight!’
I did not really know what to do. So I just shook my head again, more firmly this time and moved. Fast! I sensed him walking behind me and I sped up even more. I walked as fast as I could in my heels. If I could have run, I would have. I was careful to stay close to the restaurants and in the better lit parts. I could still hear him walking behind me so I went even faster. I went over on my ankle but fortunately did not fall and carried on moving. I did not want to say anything to him as I was afraid that if he heard my voice he would definitely clock me as trans and then all bets would be off. Given that he had wanted to engage me in conversation and assuming he had not clocked me he may react violently once he found out what was going on. Alternatively if he had clocked me as trans and tried to talk to me anyway then he may have been under the impression that all trans women are ‘available’ and that may have gone badly as well.
Anyway I carried on moving as quickly as I could and got to my car safely I jumped in and locked the door (having got my keys out my bag en route). I was relived that the car started and that I could get going. I got back to the hotel safely and went up to my room.
I woke up the next morning and had a bit of a lazy lie in as I only needed to be at my first appointment at 11-30 am. I enjoyed my morning coffee made with a proper coffee machine (something of a rarity in South African hotel rooms), followed by a leisurely breakfast. I then did a bit of work in the room before checking out and heading to an early lunch. Sadly I paid for my sin of sloth by having my flight home delayed by over three hours!
So I learned a few lessons this trip. Firstly, it is perfectly ok to adjust some plans. Just because you planned to dress, doesn’t mean you have to dress. If it doesn’t feel right or if you just aren’t in the mood, chill. Another opportunity will arise. Secondly be careful! Things are different en femme. I got a very real sense of what South African women (and I am sure many women all over the world) have to put up with every day. I felt unsafe and that was not a good feeling. I also felt silly for not adhering to my own advice, but then I felt angry that I should have to curtail my activities because of a perceived threat. Then I felt bad that I had judged the young man to have been a threat. Maybe he was just being nice? But maybe he wasn’t! Erring on the side of caution was perhaps the best choice after all. I also learned that I need to be more careful on social media. Not everyone out there is ‘nice’. Some people are wonderful, some are ok and others are frankly unpleasant. I am not sure how I could have handled the invitation better. I did not (at least I don’t think) lead him on and I was fairly clear what was on offer (a drink). It is tedious to preface all social interactions with ‘I don’t want to have sex with you’, especially as all my social media profiles indicate that I am (happily) married and monogamous… I am not sure if I will be going out at night alone again, but I am glad I had this experience and that it ended as well as it did. I am wiser and have resolved to be safer in the future!
PS Maybe I was looking gorgeous that night.I dress the way I do because that is how I dress. It affirms my sense of identity. I am not wanting to attract a partner. If a man can dress the way he dresses because it is the way he wants to dress, why can a woman not have the same luxury? Why is it so hard for some people to understand this?
Some pictures taken at the hotel before I went out:
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