It was because I was angry. He was taking me home from the party we had met at. Eastern European, solid and muscular in a way that comes from work, not the gym. He works seven nights a week and never has a chance to meet girls, he told me. It was an opening and I knew it.
I put my hand on his arm with a compassionate touch, but with that barrier broken, I could feel the charge run through him. He soon pulled over into a parking lot and we started making out, our hands reaching across the front seats to explore each others bodies. When he pulled my skirt up and ran his hands along my thighs, my heart pounded. If he kicks me out of the cab, I would be stranded.
More sobering, with his size and strength, he could easily kill me. Race and geography had largely protected me from such danger, but I knew I was crossing a perilous line. Up to this moment I would have sworn to you that trans women never hook up with men without disclosing, if for no other reason than we are the ones most aware of the risks we face. I certainly had never done anything like this before. So what brought me here?
Yes, it was late and I was both aroused and in an altered state. And he was incredibly sexy, and more importantly, available. I was seated next to a father, Jim, and his teenage daughter, whom he was taking to look at colleges.
He was a literal daddy. By time we landed his daughter had rolled her eyes at our obvious flirtation and we had exchanged emails. The occasion that affords me the most often practice is flights, and so it was that I had never actually told Jim that I was trans. This was my thinking at the time: I mean, I look trans, right? Whenever I looked in the mirror I just saw a palimpsest of gender, with craggy peaks of vestigial masculinity.
Surely he knew just by looking at me. He must have seen that! And the final assurance, in my willfully naive brain, was that he mentioned how much he loved Joe Biden. It read, in its entirety: I have no interest in that. My first instinct was to apologize to him, which embarasses me now. I thought you knew. Over the course of the night my feelings shifted to hurt, and then to anger. In very unhealthy, but temporarily effective, ways.
When it got late and I needed to head home, my friend mentioned this cab driver he knew, who gives him rides in exchange for drugs.
And so I found myself in a situation that I knew to be mostly be a fiction of straight male anxiety. Fuck all the assholes who had ever made jokes about killing trans women, or made vomit noises when they saw me, or spit on me, or laughed at me, or beat up my friends, or executed poor black girls just a few miles from me. There was no winning, so I may as well just have some fun. I pushed his hand away from my crotch, muttering something about my period, and then went down on him.
Is this really happening? Now shut up and enjoy it. I demurred when asked for me number, and I never saw him again. It was incredibly stupid and dangerous and, most of all, self-destructive, but nothing in the world will convince me I owed him anything. In an earlier scene we see a man leaving her bedroom and evading Paige when she asks if he wants to grab dinner.
Because of this choice, she finds herself going through a process that most people can take for granted, but she had always been denied: James recognizes that we all have disclosures, and there are no simple rules about when they should come. My encounter with Jim and the cab driver took place years ago, when I was still figuring out who I was and struggling through the trauma of transition. More often than not I think this: