A Healthy Level of Caution

2008 in palawan-el nido to sabang

Most days being trans isn’t a big deal. I go about my business just like everyone else, dealing with all the usual problems and insecurities of everyday life.

Then, there are other days…
The media coverage you see every now and then about transgender people being badly harassed or even beaten to death aren’t just myths. Sadly, these things are still happening. Consequently, depending on where I lived and traveled, I exercised a healthy level of caution.
For example, in most Asian countries or in Mexico I’d never get very drunk or join my buddies to smoke a joint. As they danced in the street or relaxed on a park bench, blowing smoke rings and stretching their legs, drawing attention to themselves, I excused myself and instead enjoyed the sunset on a quiet beach or went home to my cats and books. I imagined them getting stopped by the police and body-searched on a street corner. Most likely, after a little bribe they would be sent on their way, a bit shaken perhaps, but fine. If those same policemen would search me and grab between my legs, they’d come to feel there to be even less in those pants than they expected. From that moment on, anything could happen. Human beings often react violent towards what they don’t know. It scares them and so they lash out. Having a “freak” in their grasp might just lead the over-anxious policemen to drag me into a deserted alley where they’ll have a little “fun”.
Traveling extensively through the infamous US “bible-belt”, I – speed-obsessed German driver – always drove as slow as a half-blind granddad on tranquilizers. I simply heard one too many stories of trans people dying by the hands of uninformed hillbillies in those parts.
While living in Macau, after an evening in a bar, I’d drive home very carefully. Roadblocks were a frequent occurrence and expats were always asked to do a Breathalyzer test. Macau has a zero-tolerance law for driving under the influence. If you get caught, you spend a night in jail. So I learned about all the little back streets I could use to avoid the police. Nevertheless, I’d never drive home hammered but rather stopped after my third glass of beer. Then, mindful of still being over the limit, I’d munch on some mints before getting into my car. Being left to my own devices overnight in a Macanese jail, maybe being strip-searched surrounded by Chinese policemen, just didn’t sound promising.

Thankfully, it’s a big planet with many great places to travel to and… there are many inspiring, kind people to meet. And, while I am aware of the bigger picture, I’ll never let it stop me from enjoying life and exploring as many corners of our world as I can.



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