Understanding what I needed to learn and staying safe as a woman since I transitioned full-time back on October 1st, 2010 has been quite a journey. I knew my life would change for the best, but I had no idea it would be to the level it is today. Being the type of person who I am, I always want to help people in need. As a woman, safety is very important. Before when I was a man, I would stop for people who were broken down on the road or in an accident – anytime anywhere. Now I don’t stop anymore. If I do happen to stop for some odd reason, it must be in a well-known location and during daylight. Instead, I generally will call 911 instead.
Granted, I’ve never been sexually assaulted or raped, but the thought of that – or God forbid getting murdered – scares me. It’s hard to believe someone attacking me because I’m trans, because they didn’t know and now they are embarrassed and their ego is bruised.
A transwoman told me that some ladies don’t disclose their status when wanting to date someone male or female. I asked why some of the ladies don’t tell the males that they are trans. Their comment was, “They will find out eventually.” I replied, “No you shouldn’t do that!” I feel if you are going to be intimate with someone in a relationship you should be up-front with them, giving that person the respect and the choice about whether they still want to date you. For me, I tell them up-front, especially if it is a male, so that they don’t get pissed off at me. I would hate to be assaulted or murdered when we go out to dinner and he spends $100 to $150 on me, and later he finds out.
Try not to go into areas that may be bad. If you go down the wrong street by accident, make like you know where you are even if you don’t. I feel when you give off vibes that you are lost, that makes you a target. Keep your car doors locked and your purse on the car floor up front or in the rear with your window up. The one thing you don’t want to do is to have your purse on the seat and the window is down and someone reaches in and takes it off the seat.
Another thing, when I’m on the escalator riding up at the train or metro station, I keep my purse on my right side so no one will snatch it. If I am on the metro, train, or bus and it is crowded, I keep my purse snapped or zipped up, keeping it in front of me.
If you are meeting someone new, meet them at a well-known location and tell a good friend where you are going and who you are meeting. If you are having them pick you up and before you get into their car, take a photo of their license plate. Send the photo to your friend and if you can take and send a selfie of you both.
One very important thing to do is to check out if your state allows you to carry mace and/or pepper spray. If you can carry a gun, please get the proper training on how and when to use it. I feel if you get a license to carry for protection, be ready to use it. In my next article I’ll talk about “Working with the police and bridging the Gap”. Until then, shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you’ll be among the stars!
Karen Kendra Holmes works for the Federal Government as a Safety Officer. Besides her full- time job with the Federal Government she is a part-time radio host on WPFW 89.3 FM on the “Inside Out LGBTQ Show” on WPFW 89.3 FM. She also writes a column for Baltimore OUTloud under the column called “Trans Lives”. Karen received the Engendered Spirit Award from Capital Pride on June 7, 2018. She also was a TEDx Speaker with TEDx Asbury Park, NJ on May 19, 2018. In April 2017 she received the “2017 Monica Roberts Advocacy Award”. She was selected in January 2017 by LGBTQ Nation as one of the “Top 50 Successful Transgender Americans You Need to Know”. In May of 2015, she was honored in a special edition among 41 other women from around the world in The Platform Magazine, for up and inspiring females who have made a difference with their platform and inspired others with their positive values towards others. In April 2014 she received the “Willis Greene Community Service Award” and the “Unsung Hero Award-Team” by the Corporation for National & Community Service. In October 2013 she received “Soldier of the Year”, out of the country, by the State Guard Association of the United States out of 24 states and 23 thousand soldiers. In December 2012 she received “NCO Soldier of the Year” by the Maryland State Guard Association and The Maryland Defense Force. She was selected in August 2012 by The International Women’s Leadership Association, "A Woman of Outstanding Leadership in the Business Owner Division".
With the Maryland Defense Force under the Maryland National Guards she was a Staff Sergeant with Force Protection, the Chaplain’s Unit as a Chaplain’s Assistance, Honor Guard, and MWR. She has been doing volunteer work with the American Red Cross for the National Capital Region since 2009 on the Disaster Action Team. For several years, she has been volunteering with Community Emergency Response Team (CERTs) in Prince George's County, MD, and also with the Medical Reserve Corps. She sits on the board for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in Prince George's County, MD. Karen also use to sit on the board for DC Metro PFLAG working with the Transgender Community. She is now the chapter president of the Transgender Veterans Support Group (TVSG) for Maryland. Before Karen’s transitioned, she previously volunteered with the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission Park Police Prince George's County Division for 7 years, 5 of them as their President, and received several awards for her service, such as two Commander’s Awards and two Volunteer of the Year Awards. In December 2005 she received the Governor’s Crime Prevention Award for her outstanding work and leadership with Park Police Volunteer Association. She has her own side business called SafetyFirst DMV and is certified as an instructor through the National Safety Council (NSC). Karen believes whole heartedly in the importance of and Giving Back to her Community.