Day in the Life: Going to the Bar

This weekend, my girlfriend is away. I’ve decided to make this an opportunity to push myself further, to do things I never imagined I would pass well enough to do. I went to a local bar on my own.

I know, to most, that sounds minor, but to me, it was a huge deal. I got the idea for this odd mission because of a conversation I was having at work the other day. Some of the girls were talking about going to a rather busy club for karaoke. One of the girls went into a story about how, one time she went, and she had a huge problem with guys trying to reach up her skirt, and how annoying that was. I wasn’t really thinking before I blurted out “If that happened to me.. I could end up dead.” Its shocking, but it’s true. There are numerous cases of this exact thing happening. Drunk guy thinks hes hitting on a cute girl, but feels something extra. It attacks his sexuality, and so many people, especially with alcohol, take that like a physical assault. They feel the need to prove they have power over the thing that attacked them. There are hundreds of cases of trans people being beaten or killed in these sort of situations. Alcohol tends to make these violent reactions even more common.

After I said that, I was afraid. The thought of going to a bar and that happening was scary, and I found myself shying away from going out. So in my silly stubborn way, I made it my mission to do just that this weekend. I wasn’t sure what to expect; whenever I hand over my ID or my credit card, my old name is flashed infront of the bartender. I’ve had bartenders make a huge issue about it – calling me “Sir” and “He” despite me obviously looking female. So right away, I risk being outted and, well, that can lead to bad things. I wasn’t sure if I would be ignored or flirted with. I wasn’t sure if it would be fun, or scary.

My idea for the night might seem silly to my cisgendered readers (that is, those who are not transgender themselves). I wanted to go to the bar and either not be carded or have a bartender who wouldn’t make a big deal. I planned on finding an excuse to hang around, like karaoke or food or something, and have some time of just being a normal girl going out. There was more I hoped for though. I hoped that someone would notice me. I wished some guy would catch eyes with me and run through the whole flirting thing. Now I know a bunch of you are probably thinking “Bet her GF isn’t gonna be happy to read that.” It’s really more complicated than that, and my partner and I have talked about this in depth already. It isn’t about trying to get a boyfriend, trying to hook up, or anything like that. It has solely to do with passing.

If a guy saw me at the bar and began flirting with me, its clear that I pass. Not only does he see me as female, but he sees me as an attractive female. Its a validation not just of my passing, but of sexuality. He sees me as a potential mate, not just some girl. As I am just now dealing with my sexuality in earnest, this means a lot. I don’t want to go have sex with some random guy, but just the simple flirting would be such a strong affirmation of my gender. Of course, I am way more interested in women, but if a woman is flirting with me, I know she is part of the LGBT community, so she has probably seen or at least heard of trans people before.

I had a fun idea for this mission; I was going to use my twitter (!/AshleyMcLaughln ) to give a bit of a play by play of what was going on. I plan on continuing this, so feel free to follow me there. It also adds something of a safety net for me – if I am doing this on twitter and I don’t tweet for a long time, someone would know at least where I was.

Okay, now on to what actually happened tonight. Really, not much happened. I went there, there were a lot of people there, but it was mostly couples. When I am there with my girlfriend, we would always notice how other women around us were attractive, but when I was alone, hoping someone would notice me, I just noticed how much more attractive these women were than me. I tried to make eye contact with people, but everyone was coupled off together, so there wasn’t any real conversation. I felt inadequate compared to some of the other women, but I realized that was absolutely normal for a woman. In the end, I only talked to the bartender, who was very nice, didn’t mention at all about the name on my card, and was happy to strike up conversation with me. But still, I was so proud of myself. I took a risk, I followed through. For a transgender person, each of these experiences are a huge accomplishment; the first time going to a girl’s clothing store alone, the first time doing your makeup alone, maybe the first time wearing a suit, tying your tie alone. These, to most people, are just simple day to day things. But for a transgender person, these little tasks represent a huge accomplishment, of comfortably moving into the gender role you were always told was not yours.

Also, just as a note.. I am looking for an artist who is skilled with photo manipulation of some sort. I have an interesting idea of making some sort of visual sequence of pictures from throughout transition, but I lack the skills… ❤

Leave a comment


  1. I’m married, but my partner threatens to make a dating website profile for me whenever I start feeling down about my looks. She’s talked about taking separate cars to a non-gay bar/club, and just watching me, seeing if I get any male attention.

    I totally understand the desire for validation from a straight male, despite not actually liking males 🙂

    Also, as far as skill with photo manipulation, I think I might be able to help 🙂 You know who I am, you know how to contact me 🙂

  2. Also, I meant to add earlier, I like that you, too, use the term transgender instead of transsexual. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

    While I feel that transsexual is a more accurate term to describe us, people have this innate reaction to anything with the word ‘sex’ in it. I think transgender just makes cis folks more comfortable.

    • Ashley McLaughlin

       /  May 14, 2011

      Ok to be honest, I’m not sure who you are, but I have a guess 😀 I’ll message you if its who I think it is.
      I am so amazed to hear about your partner. My girlfriend has invited me to do such things as well, and it means a lot. I really wish my mission last night got me a little more attention, but it was still good overall. I think this is such an important part of gender identity and expression – being acknowledged as your internal gender identity in such a strong way as being flirted with.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: