I looked at myself in the mirror, frowning. I liked the outfit I’d picked out, I would wear it every day if I could but it mattered more about what other people thought. What would they say if they saw a “boy” walking around with a dress and heels on? I would surely get beaten up or at least get weird looks from strangers. Thankfully, the past few times I had gone out dressed like this was with a group of friends. An old lady glared at me but my friends stood up for me and I was thankful for that.
But today was a weekday and all my friends were at work. I would’ve been too if I hadn’t taken a day off to a bunch of errands; one of which involved leaving the house.
I wondered if I should just get changed and leave the dress to be worn another day but I had made a promise this morning to wear it out today. My friends had even sent “good luck” texts so I knew that I would let my friends down if I didn’t do it. So I took a deep breath, grabbed my backpack, and left my house.
My backpack was pretty plain but I knew that I had left a pin badge on that bore the transgender flag. I considered taking it off but then laughed as I realised that it wouldn’t matter much either way. If I was dressed like this then I doubted that people would even notice the pin badge at all.
Once again, I regretted not learning to drive sooner. I was still learning and I didn’t have my own car yet, let alone anyone to sit with me while I drove. So I took the bus to the city centre. After some funny looks, including from the bus driver, I wondered if I had made the wrong decision but I knew that it was possible to get through it with no hiccups. Despite the mounting anxiety, I knew it was only a short trip and I wouldn’t stay in the city longer than I needed to. I knew I would be so proud of myself after I’d done it, and so would my friends. I smiled to myself just thinking about it.
I had to go to a few shops, and all of the staff were friendly enough and didn’t comment on what I was wearing. Just a short glance and that was it. I knew from friends’ stories that retail was tiring and I must also see other people like this throughout their days so it was probably no big deal for them. That helped ease my worry as I continued on my way.
I had to walk down a side street to get to the bus stop after I had bought all the things I needed. Earlier, there was no one there so I had no worries about walking through there on my own but this time I saw a group of men standing around, chatting.
Immediately, my heart started to race and I kept my head down, hoping against hope that they wouldn’t look around.
I heard sniggering and then one of the men shouting something. I tried to keep walking but I heard footsteps behind me then one of the men yanked on my backpack, bringing me to a standstill.
“What’s up, faggot?” He smirked. “Why are you going around dressed like that? Are you asking to get beat up or what?”
My throat suddenly went dry and I felt like I couldn’t speak but I wasn’t going to back down in front of them. I didn’t want to make myself an even easier target. “No, not particularly.”
He laughed again. “Well, you shouldn’t have dressed like a pretty little lady, then. I think you need to be taught a lesson, right, guys?”
I tried to get out of his grip as I knew I was a better runner than a fighter, but he grabbed my bag again.
“Where do you think you’re going? I’m not finished with you yet.”
I couldn’t think clearly. I thought I was going to die right there and then. This guy had some muscles on him of which I had none, and he looked like he could take me in a fight. I’d ruled out running away so I would have to do something. I couldn’t punch or kick him, neither would have enough power behind them. The last time I did any sort of exercise was years ago.
But I knew I couldn’t do anything. What would my friends say when they found out I was in the hospital because some white cis guy beat me up? What would my parents say? Granted, they didn’t believe my gender was real but I was sure they would be concerned that I had got myself into this mess.
With those thoughts in my mind, I steeled myself. What I was about to do wasn’t particularly groundbreaking, but I knew that it was the only option left. We both stared at each other and then I raised my foot and kicked him in the balls.
He bent over, clearly in pain, and he let go of me for long enough that I could run for it. Thankfully, the other guys were too focussed on their friend being hurt than chasing after me. Maybe they knew that once I got out into the square, they couldn’t do anything without someone intervening.
The wait for the bus home was agonising. I kept glancing at the streets, just waiting for one of the men to come running out but they didn’t. I supposed they got bored or found someone else to mess with. I felt guilty for feeling relieved that at least it wasn’t me.
I really was proud of myself. I had been brave enough to wear what I wanted out in public, and I stood up for myself when I needed to. I doubted I could do something like that again in a hurry but I knew for now I could celebrate.
I texted my friends and they were all happy and proud of me for “being so brave” but also sympathetic that I had to put up with “cis bullshit”, as it’s known by us. I laughed as it was now removed enough for me to find the funny side to it.
Maybe if I didn’t have friends like mine, I wouldn’t have thought this was even a possibility that I could do all by myself. That I could be myself and let the world know about it. But it turns out it is possible, and it’s all thanks to them.