It’s Saturday night and the people I’ve hung out with for the last 15 years want to go to “our” favorite spot. I should mention that I say “our” because at times it feels like our is more their and it’s where we’ve always gone so we might as well load up the car and head that way. It’s comfortable, it’s safe… for them anyways.

Most of my friends are lesbians, so we’ve always wasted no time heading to our favorite lesbian bars for a night of cheap beer and country music blaring through the speakers in one room and remixes of Justin Bieber in another. (Don’t get me wrong, I do love some JB). It wasn’t until I came out as trans in 2014 that I realized how non-inclusive these places are. For 3 years after I came out to my wife I weighed the responsibility of transitioning via hormones vs. trying to let my body do what it would naturally. I could get away with being in lesbian bars pretty easily because I had no facial hair, my voice was about as high as everyone else and I didn’t mind fitting in for the sake of not being confronted.

Eventually I stopped going to “our” bars and just went where I knew I would be safe, whether is was an LGBTQIA bar or not. I avoided bathrooms like the plague anywhere else.

Even when I do meet other trans men out I always feel like we’re asking each other “what are we doing here” every time we awkwardly make eye contact.

Almost every time I go out I end up back at home wondering if there will ever be inclusive bars for us. I mean truly inclusive bars. Ones where the bathrooms signs aren’t gendered and the music is tailored towards one crowd or another. Where the beers on tap aren’t Coors Light vs Bud Light. I’m sure this bar exists. It HAS to, doesn’t it? Not here in Dallas, Texas. Not as far as I know.

So how do we get there? Opening a bar isn’t easy. It takes time, money, resources, a following, people who want you to do well. So maybe that isn’t our first step. Maybe the small things like not gendering bathrooms in our neighborhoods is a good first step though. Asking local organizations to reach out to these places could be a great way to get someone’s attention without having to be at the front lines of the conversations.

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