The Importance of Feeling Safe

Holy shit, y’all! For the first time in 4-years, my partner, Falon, and I have gone a FULL MONTH [that’s over 4-weeks] without experiencing any form of transphobic or queerphobic street harassment of any kind. It is fucking glorious!

For those of you who have been reading the blog for a while, you may have seen me write about how bad the street harassment and abuse has been for Falon and I while living in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. It was daily, nearly every time we left the house.

In fact, it was so bad that for the last year or so we became incredibly isolated. Because every time we left, even if it was just to go to the corner store 2-blocks away, something almost always happened. We would either have slurs yelled at us, or somebody recording us or taking pictures of us with their phone, or laughing and pointing at us, or following us around, or interrogating us on why we looked the way we did, etc.

On particularly bad days there were the items thrown at us from cars, the groups of teenagers intimidating us, and sometimes even death threats or demands for us to leave town. So, we only went out when we absolutely had to.

Isolation aside, things were so unhealthy and toxic that I even started trying to go BACK into the closet. I stopped dressing how I wanted to. I stopped shaving as often. I stopped looking after my hygiene. I even considered shaving my head and getting rid of all my glorious pink hair so that people would have as little reason as possible to bother me. Kicker is, none of it worked. Even with wearing simple fucking pants and a t-shirt, I still had people yelling “homo” at me as I sat in my car at an intersection.

So, what changed? Why have things suddenly improved so drastically for us when it was so toxic and ceaseless before?

We moved.

And holy shit, let me tell ya… there is a HUGE fucking difference between small-town living and big city living for visibly queer and trans folks in the Canadian Prairie provinces. Like, night and fucking day.

I ate a whole fucking meal at a busy mall without being heckled!

Now, I’m not saying that where we are will always be awesome. I’m sure that it is only a matter of time before we cross paths with our first vocal queerphobe, but the difference here is that for the first time since I came out four years ago… I generally feel safe.

Sure, sometimes a couple people will toss me a glance at the mall or grocery store, but unlike in Moose jaw people here just go about their own day and mind their fucking business. They’re not loudly exclaiming “what the fuck!?” at us when we walk by. They’re not whipping out their cellphones and snapchatting us as “these trannys”. They’re just leaving us be. Sometimes they’re even smiling at us and saying hello! Like, holy fuck, right!?

I’m not always looking over my shoulder anymore. I’m not rushing into stores and trying to be “in and out” as fast as possible anymore. Most importantly, I’m not trying to hide who I am anymore. I finally feel comfortable enough in a community to be myself again, and while it’s sad that it took us leaving Moose Jaw to get there, I’m so fucking happy we did.

It all just really helped me appreciate how fundamental feeling safe can be to your emotional, psychological, and physical wellness. Everyone wants to feels safe. Feeling safe allows us to excel and prosper in our personal, professional, social lives. It encourages us to participate in society and contribute to our communities. It’s important to feel valued and like we belong.

So, to any of other queer and/or trans Canadians out there living in a racist, queerphobic, generally bigoted small prairie town: get the fuck out! Don’t let the toxicity of a regressive, ignorant, abusive community hold you down.

You deserve to feel safe and live a happy, healthy life too.

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