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Staying Safe

Self-Defence for Women

by Joy

This page is adapted from an artcle that first appeared in The Cornbury News, January 2002. For more information on the course presented, please email Suzanne Adams at.


Suzanne Adams (from Emerald City of Seattle) came to tell us why we needed to know about this and then what we needed to know. She gave a most enjoyable talk – being funny and humorous at times and serious when she needed to be and I’m sure that everybody there enjoyed and benefited from her talk.

Suzanne gave a brief history of herself. She has known since she was 3 years old that she was a girl. Her first career was as a police officer, eventually rising to the position of Chief of Police. After retiring from the police force, she became quite involved in the transgender community and is currently President of Emerald City and on the board of Ingersoll in Seattle. She is still active in police work, in a consulting role on gender issues.

The most important thing that I learned was the reason why we needed to hear about this. As men, we have had no lifetime of growing up as the “weaker sex” and absolutely no idea of how women live their life when out of their homes. When leaving a building at night we don’t check outside to make sure that it is safe to leave; we aren’t concerned if we’ve parked our car in a dark place; we don’t make sure that we have our keys to the car in hand well before we get to our car and many other things.

What each of us needs to realise is that when we are dressed, we are presenting ourselves to the world as women and, while we know what is going on, those we meet do NOT! At least, at first glance.


Suzanne told us there are two parts to self defence. By far, the most important, is avoidance. In other words, do all you can to avoid being confronted.

Don’t act like a victim: walk with your head up, make eye contact with those that you meet and look confident. This is most important for crossdressers who tend, at least at first, to avoid anything and everything that might give us away. Show confidence and always travel with companions.

Check the area: When leaving a building, specially at night, make sure that it is safe to leave before going through the door – check the area outside the door and if there’s a group of people there, wait until they move off. Always leave in a group.

Carry your keys: Make sure that you have your car keys in your hand before going through the door. Don’t wait until you’re at your car and then start digging through your purse to find those elusive keys which have moved to the bottom of your purse.

Carry your keys in your weaker hand with the ignition key placed between the 2nd and 3rd fingers, facing out. This leaves your dominant hand free for any self defence action that might be necessary.

Check your car: When approaching your car, check the back seat to make sure that it is as you left it. Use the car windows as mirrors to see behind you. When Suzanne mentioned this, I said “why? My car is locked and alarmed!”. She said, “I can get in your car in 15 seconds and when was the last time you saw someone move to a car whose alarm was on?” Oh (:

If you feel that you are being followed to your car, get in on the passenger side which shows that you are expecting someone else to arrive.

Deflect attention: Sometimes, some of us like to dress somewhat provocatively. She wasn’t suggesting that you don’t but if you are going out, then wear a long coat. Remember, provocative dressing works whether you’re a female or a male looking like a female!

Avoid remote areas. The #1 trouble spot is an airport parking lot. Not far behind are parkades in malls. If you come across someone breaking into any car, GET AWAY and go for help.

Check your cab: Make sure that the taxi you are about to get into is a legal taxi! There are people who pose as taxi drivers who pick up calls meant for the legal taxi.

Deflect attention: If a male “comes on to you” DO NOT lead him on, no matter how flattered you feel – the time to say NO is right now. Even after accepting the first drink is too late. In other words, don’t let them get to first base.

Check the elevator: When waiting for an elevator, do not stand directly in front of the doors but stand off to the side. Check it out before getting in. If someone gets in and you feel threatened, get off.

So, you’ve done all that and still you’re concerned that a threatening situation might develop. Think about how you might diffuse it.

Suzanne told a story about when she and a few others were walking past a parking lot to get to a restaurant. A number of drunken men were meandering in the parking lot and they appeared threatening. Turns out all they wanted was some money for parking and by just giving them what they wanted removed the threat.

Be nice – be gratuitous.

Any time that you can diffuse what appears to be a threatening situation is a win.

When All Else Fails…

Sometimes, your best efforts fail. When this happens, watch their hands. If they have a weapon, then you’re clearly in trouble. Otherwise, try to predict what they are prepared to do.

If they grab your wrist, it is quite easy to extricate yourself from this grasp: move your arm in the direction which takes it through their thumb and forefinger. Note that your arm is thicker in one direction than the other – if that is how they grabbed you, twist your arm before pulling away. Practice this with your spouse, SO, or friend.

If they grab you around your neck, then put your hands together and move them rapidly up between their arms. Again, this is directing your force towards their weakest point – the thumb.

If they grab you from behind then your elbow is the best defence. Don’t just use your arm – use your entire body in directing your elbow into their solar plexus.

Once away, yell – screaming is better but it seems this is only available to true females 🙂 and then run like hell.

You Are Vulnerable When…

  • you are older
  • you are drunk
  • you are disoriented (for example, in a place you’ve never been before)
  • you have no money (make sure you have a plan if you lose your purse!)


I found this talk extremely interesting as it pointed out dangerous situations that I would never have considered dangerous. But even more interesting was that the two females present agreed with everything Suzanne said which reinforced her suggestions.

It seems to me (now) that such a course is valuable for ALL males just so they understand what their Significant Others are required to endure. There is no question that it is really important for all crossdressers.