I generally move through the world without too much worry about being clocked or being attacked or mocked after being clocked. I do this simply because it hasn’t happened to me in the 4 years and change since I found the courage to just stop worrying and present myself as myself. Over time, I generally stopped seeing every look as somehow knowing and generally stopped ascribing malice to others where no such thing most likely existed.
There are specific times, however, where I genuinely fear that I may be subject to some measure of malicious intent on the part of others. Sometimes it is just the same cautious fear that many women have in the presence of a potentially dangerous situation. Sometimes it is specifically a fear of being attacked for being trans. It happens. It hasn’t happened to me, but it happens and I am not so pollyanna to believe that it will never happen to me. I generally don’t worry, but when given cause, I do.
Last weekend, the closing weekend of my very successful run of Richard III (I produced, directed and designed sets and lights), I had to purchase a few bottles of red wine for our lobby from the 7-11 a block away (they have a selection of wine that will do for our non-paying connoisseurs). As I approached the store, there were a number of young men sitting outside and I got a serious danger vibe combined with a serious “clocked” vibe, some snickering and not quite sotto voce commentary that may or may not have been about me, but in that moment of feeling danger, I had to assume it was and act accordingly.
I quickly entered the store, made my purchase and exited specifically to avoid the gathering outside. I’m not sure if they saw me leave as I made every effort to avoid looking in that direction. I quickly returned to the theatre and was able to breathe again, before I processed my fear and panic. I pulled my spouse aside and shared the moment with her and was able to let it go in the moment.
But the thing is, moments like that happen. My fear is real and sometimes the danger is real. While I try to avoid potential danger, I don’t live my life in avoidance of life, and therefore there is risk. I am not so naive to think otherwise.