A Night at the Theater


A Night at the Theater

by Cheryl Bishop

As the curtain for the first act began to close, a group of about 25 dressed in fashionable dresses and high heels were first to the lobby. When the other theater goers came out they found them in a long line going into the room labeled “MEN”.

Our transgender support group had planned the outing to the stage production of Cinderella, even before North Carolina legislators had called a special session, just to pass a badly crafted, probably unconstitutional, bill mandating public facility use based on birth certificates. This was to stop a Charlotte city ordinance intended to give LGBT folk a little protection by allowing them to use the facilities they associated with.

After the legislative silliness, the group planned the bathroom trip as a non-violent protest. They came prepared, and a few enjoyed what actually happened. It had caused a few who would not have come, to come as a show of solidarity.

One theater patron said, “Aren't you ladies lined up for the wrong room?”

“Not according to the state's silly laws.” came the deep voiced reply from Jean one of the larger ladies in the line. Jean’s an ex-Marine, linebacker type, having trimmed down to 220 lbs. She wore heels that set off her already 6’2” frame.

The line moved very slowly, as the ladies all wanted to use one of the two cubicles to deal with the complexities of dresses and pantyhose.

Eventually an impatient man tried to shove past the lady at the door, thinking he had spotted a weakness within our protest group.

“Please wait your turn, like a gentleman.” Replied Kathy in a melodious contralto. Kathy’s a very pretty blond 5' 4”, 115 lb, a post op, who clearly fell in the “I can't believe she was ever a boy” class. She was however willing and able to stand up for herself and the group.

“Get out of my way, you queer!” as he rush toward the door, pulling his fist-ed right arm back threatening to slug her if she didn't comply.

Suddenly he felt a spray in his face and his eyes began to burn. When he felt a hand clamp on his right wrist, he swung around wildly with his left arm, but before hitting anything, he was tumbling through the air, landing hard on the tiled floor. He got up and charged in the direction he had come flying from, like a wounded, blinded rhino. Suddenly his body spasm-ed. Next thing he knew, he was on his stomach with his ankles and wrists held together with nylon ties.

The same very pleasant contralto voice could be heard. “911 could you please send police to the Belk theater. Some Neanderthal tried to force his way past the line to the XY lavatory facility. He has been temporarily subdued, but we would feel safer if you came and took him into custody.”

“You ladies handled that quite well!” ventured a distinguished looking woman in the lobby. Someone else in the crowd started clapping, and soon 95% (my estimate) of the crowd was applauding us.

When the applause died, someone else in the line commented, “What a delightful example of a fool rushing in.”

“Do you mean the Neanderthal or the legislators?”

“I was thinking of the Neanderthal, but that applies well to the legislators. I'd like to see them get consequences similar to this Neanderthal."

When two police officers came, they found Mr. Neanderthal hog tied with Ty-wraps.

Our distinguished lady friend volunteered, 'I saw the whole thing. He attacked the people in the line. They just defended themselves and then restrained him. Then they called 911 to send for you.”

“ I just tried to get past these freaks, who were blocking the men's room. They attacked me and I want to press charges.” shouted Bob (as we later found his name to be).

“Perhaps I can help.” I volunteered, “I recorded the incident on my cell phone.”

The cops looked at my video. It started with Bob threatening to punch Kathy and ended with Kathy calling 911.

“Can we take your phone?”

“Can I send you a copy of the video when I get home?”

“That wont do. We need to maintain a chain of evidence to insure the video is not edited or tampered with. We can take it back to the station, get what we need, and return your phone at the end of the show.”

“I guess that will do.” and somewhat reluctantly handed them the phone.

Turning to Bob, who had been untied, but handcuffed. “If I were you, I wouldn't press charges, just hope they don't.”

“Do any of you ladies want to press charges?” We looked at each other, and clearly some wanted to, but in the end only Kathy had been directly threatened an she chose not to press charges.

“How can you call them ladies?” shouted Bob.

“Because they look like ladies, and act like ladies.” replied one officer.

As they took him to the patrol car , Bob could heard screaming “You drag off the normal citizen, and leave the freaks alone!”

The officers told him, “You are not a normal citizen, thank God. But if you don't tone it down you may be facing hate crime charges.”

Finally we got to return to “Cinderella”. They were very nice to delay the start of the second act
until we were able return.

We all enjoyed the show, and recommend it highly.

After the show, the police were there with my phone, and so were two local TV news crews, and various other reporters. When I saw camera flashes, I herded our group back in the auditorium.

“I know some of you don't want to be photographed, I recommend we offer them some interviews in exchange for allowing those who, want to leave unidentified, to go.” Everybody agreed. “I think Kathy would be our best spokeswoman.” knowing Kathy was willing and very able. Again all agreed.

Kathy went to the lobby and announced, “Would representative from the TV crews join us in the auditorium to negotiate conditions for interviews? No cameras, No microphones! Would the police keep others out!”

The TV people agreed except we granted 3 interviews, Kathy, “The Kung-Fu master” (Jean), and “the photographer (me).

Kathy's interview went well.

The TV reporter started, “Are you the young lady who was attacked at the Belk theater tonight.”

“I feel we were all attacked tonight.”

“Who do you mean by we?”

“The whole TGU group, I was attending “Cinderella” with.”

“Is TGU a university group?”

“No it's short for Transgenders United, a support group for people who are trying to find a comfortable balance between their masculine and feminine parts.”

“I think you are leading me astray. But what about the attack.”

“Well, the state passed this silly law that says, we have to use XY lavatory.”

“The men's room?”

“Yes, but I think my description is more accurate under the law. Anyway, we decided to go as a group for safety. I don't like to think, what might happen to me alone in “the men's room”. The line was moving rather slowly, because the facility was not designed for groups in dresses and pantyhose. So this man gets inpatient and tries to crash the line. I think he attacked me, because I appeared to be the smallest and weakest.”

“While you are petite, you certainly don't strike me as weak.”

“Thank you, but I didn't do anything. My friends came to my defense.”

“They sure did. It is my understanding he was maced, flipped across the lobby, tasered, and hogtied.”

“It wasn't as bad as you make it sound, and I believe it was pepper spray.”

“You had some contact information?”

“Yes, our group is TGU for Transgenders United, PO Box XXXX Pineville, NC. We take a rather broad view of transgender, so if you have any gender issues you need help with, we will try to help, and although not represented tonight, we do include boys born XX.”

“Thank you.”

Jean's interview was a little more hostile.

“Hello, are you the one who threw the attacker across the lobby?”

“Well, he mostly threw himself across the lobby. I just provided a little guidance so he wouldn't hurt anyone.”

“You look like you could throw people professionally.”

“I know I don't look very feminine, but I assure you there is a female spirit inside this body.”

“So you always dress this way?”

“Usually I'm not this dressed up. But most of my wardrobe is women's.”

“You live and work as a woman?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Where?”

“Jean and Jen's Salon in Mathews.”

“You are a hairdresser?”

“Beautician is preferred.”

Things kind of ended in a stare down.

Only the first exchange of Jean's interview was aired. And I'm afraid, that was mostly to give the bigots their view of a “man in a dress”. They didn't even bother with my interview (thankfully).

The video found it way to you tube (I plead the 5th). I like to think the three million plus views, helped change the law.



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