My encounter with the police

For my first “real” post, I thought I would write about my experience with the California Highway Patrol (CHP). For those of you not in California, the CHP is primarily responsible for law enforcement on the state’s freeways and major highways. They are statewide group and is the closest thing we have to “state police”.

I suspect that an encounter with the police is one of the most frightening situations that most TGs can imagine. Part of the concern is real as one does hear stories of TGs who have been insulted, harrased, arrested, or even injured by police, especially TGs of color. The biggest part of the fear is simply that someone in a position of authority will discover the “real you” and you will be officially “outed”.  I know I always had such a fear and so made sure that I obey every traffic rule when out in girl mode.

Until that day about a year ago.

I was on my way to the home of my BFF who had graciously allowed me to work at her home during the day. I am fortunate in having a job that can be done almost anywhere and so I spent several days a week working at her home while in girl mode. It was a really great time that I will write about another day.

Anyway, I was on the freeway and approaching the exit to her home. There was some stopped traffic up ahead and so I moved to the right in order to get to the exit. There was a solid white line on the right side of the road that I crossed in order to get around a stopped car. I had done such things in the past without a second thought. I noticed a CHP officer standing by his car but did not think much about it (afterall I was not speeding).

As soon as I crossed the line, his flashing lights went on and he waved me to pull over. At that point I was in full casual girl mode (jeans and tshirt) . I thought about a quick change (removing wig, wiping off makeup, removing some padding, etc) but given how close he was it did not seem like a good idea.

He walked up to my car and asked for driver’s license, registration, proof of insurance, etc.. He was very nice about it all. I was also very nice and pleasant. At the time, I had no idea what I had done wrong.

Now just to make things even more interesting, it turns out that I did not have my driver’s license with me. I had lost it about 6 weeks earlier while on a business trip (I think I left it in a rental car). I had made an appt for get a new one but the delay to get an appt was about 8 weeks.

So here I am in girl mode, stopped by a CHP officer for a traffic offense, and I have no driver’s license. I am oddly calm. I feel like I should panic but I sort of figure what is the worse that can happen and so I don’t.

I do have an old expired driver’s license and so hand that to him along with registration and proof of insurance. I make a brief comment about how its an old license and how today I don’t look like the picture.  He takes everything and walks back to his car. He had been totally polite the whole time.

After a few minutes he comes back and explains the nature of my offense and wants me to understand that crossing the white line for any reason, except for car breakdown, is against the law. He also explains that I need to get to the DMV ASAP to get a new license.

At that point, three wonderful things happen.

The first is that he lets me off with a warning about crossing the white line. He says to be careful not to do it again.

The second is that gives me a citation for not having a valid driver’s license. If I get license with 60 days, the fine is only $25.

The third (and best part) is that in the “Gender” field on the citation, he has placed an ‘F’ !!! I have been officially recognized as a woman by a CHP officer (despite having my boy name on the rest of citation) .  This alone was worth the $25 fine. I had to turn in the original when I paid the fine, but made a copy of it. It is one of my prized possessions!

I assume that he thought I had transitioned and that my comment about not looking like I did on the license confirmed that to him.

Overall it turned out to be a good experience. The officer treated me with complete respect the entire time as I did him. Getting stopped by the police is often a stressful situation but in this case, it went much better than expected. It was a great confidence boost.

Of course, it probably helped that it occured in Northern California, about 20 miles south of San Francisco,  and on some back road in Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Emma Sweet
    Jan 05, 2017 @ 00:31:50

    Wow, that’s awesome! I live in Menlo Park and although I’ve never gone out in full girl mode it’s great to hear about your experience!

    Reply

  2. Pat Scales
    Jan 05, 2017 @ 08:57:57

    I received a ticket years ago for driving over the white line on the right. I was coming to a T intersection. Most folks were turning left and I left the line about 3 car lengths before the turning lane started. I think the cop was a bit over reactive.
    I was stopped once in NJ while dressed. I was coming back from a bar and was pulled over. I was wearing a short lace dress (coral red). I could not believe I was speeding. It was good that I had only had two beers since I think he was primarily looking for DWI violators. He took my papers and when he returned to my car he wrote a ticket for doing 41 in a 30 MPH zone. If I was not dressed I think I would have given him a piece of my mind. I simply paid the ticket and chalked it up to a rookie cop looking to make income for his town.

    Reply

  3. Tess Williams
    Jan 05, 2017 @ 10:25:09

    Great story! I think it had a lot to do with you being calm and not having anxiety about the whole thing. You also were polite and treated the officer with respect, so he did the same. I love the “this alone was worth the $25 fine” comment! 🙂

    Reply

  4. Clare Flourish
    Jan 06, 2017 @ 10:50:07

    Actually getting arrested for a traffic offence was a good experience for me. This was in Manchester. It was one of the experiences convincing me I could make a go of transition.

    Reply

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