Two months ago, I made the decision to go public with something that was by that time already old news to me, something that I had hidden and fought with for two years previous. I came out as transgender.
Coming out wasn’t about changing my perception of myself. It didn’t make me feel more feminine, as I already knew I was a girl inside. In truth I felt safe in the closet. I snuck through life without every interaction having to double up as an interrogation of my femininity. I knew that coming out meant I would no longer be able to gain solace by hiding in the crowd – for I would never again be a man, a boy, a ‘lad’ – I would be a mysterious other, a third that didn’t fit in.
Last weekend a bouncer at Revolution in Cardiff saw it fit to remind me of that last point. A housemate and I went to Revolution to meet up with a close childhood friend of mine, who had asked for my comments for an article he was intending to write on homophobia in football. We arrived to find no queue, 9.40pm on a Saturday evening being a while before the venue would get busy. We had also not been drinking – one of the first facts I have learned as a girl being that putting on eyeliner after a couple cans of Strongbow Dark Fruit is a recipe for disaster.
I was blanked as I offered the man my ID. He meekly pointed to the side and sniggered as I walked past. It took a few seconds of staring before the man whispered something to his colleague, who walked over and although staring directly at me, addressed my housemate saying we were “far too drunk, and had to go”. I asked my friend if we could watch for a while before leaving so I could confirm my suspicion – which was that the bouncers were going to happily allow the trio of ladies behind us in the line to enter, as they babbled incoherently, supporting each other to avoid collapsing on the pavement.
If this was just an issue of two bouncers being unable to tell how drunk both us and the trio of cisgender ladies were, then the only problem here would be there inability to perform their job. It is clear to me that the matter is far more disgraceful than this. I am 100% certain I was only denied entry to Revolution because of my appearance, because I was a trans woman wearing a skirt, a frilly top and heavy eyeliner.
This kind of discrimination does not get talked about. However the lack of awareness around treatment of transgender people by bar staff cannot continue. The actions of people like the bouncers who discriminated against me are perpetuated by victims not going public with our experiences. We stay silent because we’re so used to this. For me at least, that silence ends today.