|Cover Girl - Caitlin last Thursday in Palm Beach
Twelve years ago I had never spoken to any other human being while I was dressed…and I’ve been dressing since I was five years old! I just couldn’t stand the isolation anymore and I decided that my life in the closet had to end. So I bucked up the courage to speak to people and that act profoundly changed my life. I remember going into a restaurant with a group of trans women at the first Keystone Conference in Harrisburg.
A woman who was with her husband at the bar gave me a glance and a smile as I passed by. When we returned from dinner she was still there. She smiled. I smiled. I said, “I’ll bet you have a question…” Her face lit up and she said, “oh, I do! I do!” We spent the next hour talking about what it was like to be trans. I guess that’s where it all started. “I’ll bet you have a question…” is just perfect for women…especially married women in the company of their husbands. It’s non-threatening and if they don’t want to talk they can simply say, “no, I don’t have a question,” I’ve probably used this conversation starter a hundred times over the years and I have yet to find a woman to say, “no.”
There are lots of other conversation starters, of course. I try to form questions that are a) open-ended (so I don’t get a “yes” or “no” answer), b) that are unusual or even just jarring enough to make the person turn off their “autopilot.” Let’s list a few below:
- If you were in charge of the playlist, what song would you play next?
- Why did you come here tonight?
- What’s your favorite part about living here? What’s the least favorite?
- Do you think [this city] is a place most people move to or move from? Why?
- What do you miss most about leaving your last town…and what were you happy to leave behind?
- Since you live here, what [restaurant, event, museum, points of interest] should I try not to miss.
- If you had to switch outfits with one person here, who would it be?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?
- You remind me of a celebrity, but I’m having trouble remembering their name…Who are you normally compared to?
- I’ve got a big decision ahead of me and I could use your advice. Should I have [Appetizer #1] or [Appetizer #2]? Smile.
There is probably nothing better than a friendly smile to start any conversation. Showing others that you are approachable and open signals that you are interested in engaging and that you won’t reject them. Try a few of my questions the next time you’re out. You may be pleasantly surprised by the positive response you get. Success builds success.
Hugs to all,