Just another night in Oakland

Gwen, Kim and I arrive at the Pacific Center in Berkeley for the Friday evening support group. It's a warm August, California evening. I'm wearing an orange, sleeveless summer dress. We stop and chat with people milling around outside. A crossdresser with a platinum blonde wig spots me and asks, "Real girl?"

"Transsexual," I reply. "Could've fooled me," she says.

We head up to the deck and find a table where we can sit before the meeting starts. We introduce ourselves, then one of the trans women leans forward and says, "Can I ask you a question?" I nod. "Are you a female-to-male?"

"No," I answer. I assume she thought I was a FTM early in transition.

"GG?" [genetic girl]

"No, and you've got one more guess."

She studies me carefully."Male-to-female?" she asks hesitantly. Bingo!

Though the meeting was boring the camaraderie is always nice. The woman who asked if I was a FTM flirts with me from across the room. The meeting ends around 10 pm and eight of us decide to grab a late meal.

We head toward Merritt lake, find a parking spot and start looking for a restaurant. It's Friday night and most have long waiting lists. Walking a bit we find a TGIF (Thank God it's Friday) and, after a short wait, are seated.

The restaurant's packed and we get our share of curious looks. The food's good though nothing to write home about. It was noisy and crowded, so I was happy when we decided to leave. As we get up four African American women at an adjacent table eyeball us. When I stand one of them says, "That's a real girl."

It's around midnight, but still very warm outside. On the way to the parking lot four tipsy, Hispanic women come giggling out of a bar. They spot us and start following. I can hear them talking about us. "Those are lesbians," one says. They're getting closer. One catches up to me and asks, "Are you a woman?" It's late, I'm tired and caught off guard. "I'm a transsexual woman," I tell her. She puts her arms around me and says, "I'm a transsexual, too!" She's a GG and drunk.

"Do you want to meet my friends?" she asks. "Sure," I reply. We walk over and I'm encircled by young, attractive Hispanic women. Four pairs of pretty, brown eyes are fixed on me. After introducing ourselves one asks, "You are a woman, aren't you?" (Well, I am a woman, just not a genetic female.) I hesitate.

"You're not a woman, are you? You know how I could tell? Because you hesitated." Next time I'll know to speak up right away.

My dress is low cut and reveals some cleavage. They're staring at my boobs. "We want to see your tits!" they say in unison. I refuse, but after continual pleading I pull one side of my dress down.

The woman next to me grabs my left breast forcefully and exclaims, "Look at that!" It feels like she's checking a cantaloupe to see if it's ripe.

I get a phone number from one, say good-bye and join the rest of our group standing around chatting up ahead. We get into our cars and head home.

Just another night in Oakland.