WHAT CAN YOU DO YOURSELF?…
Are you trans* yourself and would you like to go to a gay bar, club or sauna, but do you feel unsafe?
Here’s some ideas to make that venue transfriendly:
1. First you will actually need to visit such a place, just to check it out before talking to the owners etc. Go there with your trans friends, as a group. See how you feel and how the others feel. Do men start grabbing your crotch without asking? Yes, they probably will. This is strange for transmen who were socialised as females, but for gay men (in sexclubs) it’s part of a very old subculture. However they appreciate clear signals.
Most important is: if you say ‘No’ do they actually listen and back off?
2. Request a talk/exchange with the owner, and make clear to the owner that transmen have always been part of the gay comunnity – but visibility and special education is needed, in order to make clear FTM’s need special safety.
Note: do NOT concentrate on the bars/clubs that give you a hard time and are very transphobic. Instead find the ones that are more positive. Use your energy wisely and pick enthousiastic allies!
The more allies you have: the more transphobic bars will realize they will need to grow with modern times as well.
3. Set up a simple, very short list of 4 or 5 houserules (no more) that can be spread near darkrooms, toilets, condom machines, dungeons, etc. Adjust this list and do this together with the owner or other people who work in the bar/venue/sauna -see if this particular venue needs specific rules.
Explain to them that physical boundaries of transmen are very comparable to those of cis men.
(Not every transman wants to do vaginal fucking, just as not every guy is into anal fistfucking).
4. Educate ALL the staff members about transmen – tell them you want the club to be inclusive of all men who respect their venue. I know it’s not nice for some, but especially in sex clubs it is important to tell what the body of a transman may look like. If this makes you feel uncomfortable: simply stress diversity – both among FTM”s as well as diversity among cis men.
Diversity is not about abnormality, it’s about variety!
And: count to ten! That’s why this list consists of 10 things: be patient if you teach newbies. For us transpeople the word ‘tranny’ can be unbearably horrific but someone who doesn’t know this (yet) usually means no harm. Tell them it is advisable to not use that word on their flyers if they want to keep their transgender customers…
5. Give the owners an idea: make them appoint 1 ‘safety’ person in their staff for each night (make them wear a white shirt for example and state clearly on your site and in your venue: ‘in case anything unsafe happens, no matter wether you are trans or not, report your problem to the person wearing the white shirt’).
6. Recrute FTM volunteers/personnel to work as part of the staff. Or apply to volunteer/work at that place yourself. Keep regular contact with the owners of the venue! Show your face, don’t become a stranger!
7. Have the venue make an explicit statement in all their events and on their website on welcoming transmen. This helps to raise awareness of both the staff as well as the visitors.
8. Don’t just ASK things from the venue, also GIVE something back to them! So: organize regular transmale evenings: show queer porn, have regular transmale sexuality workshops (on pumping, sex positions, safe sex, etc.). Have regular FTM-themed cruising nights, ‘for men with and without penises.’
And: make sure to get your event listed in the GOLDEN LIST here at http://www.transgold.wordpress.com!
9. Do everything in Dutch and English :-) since most Dutch bars have international visitors that need to know on how to respect boundaries of all the visitors, including transmen.
10. Understand that curiosity and fetishizing can be two different things (this is a good suggestion for both transmen themselves as well as the venues that welcome them – in the Netherlands there seems to be no FTM fetishizing going on (no ‘chasers’ yet), but in other countries it’s becoming a problem. Compare this to the situation of transwomen: they have been more visible in the Netherlands for much longer and they definately suffer from fetish attention. Only recently there seems to be a rising trend of respect for transwomen simply seeing them as the women they are).
For you as a transperson this means: it’s OK to be very clear towards someone if you personally feel that the attention they give you is too much based on you being trans*. Please also note: the boundaries for this kind of attention can differ for every transgender person individually.
11. Be as simple and practical as you can in your requests: for example, ask for private changing rooms; make sure everything in the cruising space is accessible to everyone (so: no glory holes or condoms higher than 7 feet…). If necessary, get their attention to this site: http://www.transgold.wordpress.com
Note: this text is only focusing on transmen (FTM’s) for now. Although some ideas may also be useful for lesbian spaces and transwomen. Please also note: these ideas are meant for use in the Netherlands. I have seen other ideas in the USA, but cultures do differ and national strategies are not necessarily applicable in the rest of the world.
This version is not definate. It’s ever changing and probably will never be final or ultimate. Give constructive feedback: don’t just say what is wrong here, but instead say what should be in here!