I had an interesting conversation today with my therapist on this subject. I think she was surprised at my attitude on the subject and the degree of caution I have. Staying safe should be a real priority for everyone, not just trans people, not just women but everyone.
Years ago I took kempo karate and I took it for years. I learned how to punch, kick, throw and grapple with an opponent. I learned vulnerable areas on the body that might disable or had a chance of killing someone. We sparred, although it was non-contact sparring.
I was frightened for the younger men, eighteen years old or so, who assumed this knowledge made them invulnerable. If anything, taking karate proved to me just how vulnerable I really was. I was not a small man. I was just under six feet, and at that time not particularly overweight and in good shape.
Here’s the thing. People who will attack you won’t play fair and won’t walk up and telegraph their intent to hurt you. They may not be alone and they have no moral compass. They will not think anything of hurting or killing you. Even if you just get into a fight with another person you are guaranteed to get hurt and possibly in some permanent fashion. No matter how skilled you are, you are not so skilled as to guarantee the outcome.
I read a post on Quora about this last night and the poster made lots of good points. You can read that here “I was just assaulted…”, but I think there are some main points and a few additional thoughts:
- As trans women we may be specially targeted if we aren’t passable, it is really important to keep this in mind, even if we are passable or believe ourselves to be.
- As women we need to be especially vigilant against not just threats on the street but threats of abduction. Never ever go with somebody even if they threaten violence because you will never be seen again. They might at least hesitate to murder you on the street.
- Stay out of dark places and places where threats can lie in wait near where you might walk
- Stay out of abandoned places and places where you feel uncomfortable. Thousands of years of evolution are better than your intellect.
- If you do carry a weapon (mace, firearms, etc), make sure you get training in using it.
- If you can run to safety that is always the best option
- If you must strike at an opponent one of the best places to hit is at the knees (and then run). Knees are weak and very hard to defend. If you must strike have no mercy, go for the eyes and throat. Only go for the crotch if you think you can get away with it. It doesn’t always disable a man and you may not get a clean hit.
- Do take a self defence class, it may give you more confidence and a confident person is a less tempting target.
- Walk with purpose, try not to walk alone and wear clothing and footwear that will allow you to run if you have to