I am now a happy 53 year-old woman. As a teenager, I was doing a hairdressing apprenticeship. In this field, I worked alongside many homosexual people and considered myself an ally and still do.
I moved to a different salon, aged about 19, and when a hairdresser moves salon they must work very hard to build up a clientele.
Thursdays were late night trading and we would typically finish work around 10pm after starting at 9am. My last client of the night, who I had styled her hair once before, told me she was very pleased with my work and that her friends and family had commented on how good her hair looked. She asked me to attend a party with her at her friend's house that night after I finished work as she thought it would be good for me to meet her friends who were interested in becoming clients.
After working 13 hours on my feet and facing the prospect of another very busy day Friday I was trying to decline. My boss was not happy about this and urged me to got to this party. I reluctantly accepted, telling her that I would only stay for one drink and just say hello as I was super tired.
I didn’t have a car so she drove me to the party and I would catch a taxi home.
We arrived around 10.30, walked into a flat where there were only 3 other people there. They were 3 men in make up, wigs, and dresses. I thought “What a waste of time, I’m a hairdresser. Not a wigmaker. Two completely different skill sets.”
These three men all sat on one couch and I was seated on the couch directly in front of them. I thought I may have recognised one as a lecturer (I was never taught by him or had never actually met him) from the trade school I attended.
I was handed a drink, a mixed punch, of course. I thought at the time. Why punch? Punch is reserved for very big parties.
Although I don’t remember engaging in any conversation other than hello to these men, they did not take their eyes off me. They even seemed excited by my presence. Meanwhile, the woman I went with shouted out from the bathroom that she was playing with her new hair style. The men chattered amongst themselves. Really stupid stuff, stuff like “I saw Sandra last week and her nail polished completely clashed with her lipstick. Giggle Giggle”. Then they would all look at me, almost as if they were trying to gauge my reaction. “Mary is looking so fat lately. Giggle Giggle.” Looks at me again. I thought “Do they really think this is what women talk about?”.
I thought I gotta get out of here, this is a boring waste of time. I finished my drink. The last thing I remember is the woman walking out the door with her bag and keys not even turning around to say goodbye. Then I turned to see these three men sitting there smiling at me.
The next thing I remember is being back at work the next day. It was about 12 midday and I was in the middle of doing someone’s hair. I was wearing fresh clothes so I must have gotten home and got myself to work on time.
Confused and frightened, I asked a much older and trusted colleague how my demeanour was that day, how did I get to work, did I get to work on time. She told me that I had been fine but very quiet and subdued. I told her about what happened. She told me that I had most likely been given Rohypnol. A very dangerous date rape drug.
What would they have wanted from me? Whatever it was, it was not good and they knew I was probably not going to be a party to it. I am very critical of women who falsely accuse men of rape and with no proof of rape, I cannot say it. At that age I thought men that wore women’s clothes were homosexuals who wanted to attract the attention of men.
I was too confused and embarrassed to go to a doctor or the police. I never saw that woman again. I believe she was intrinsic to the set up.
In the years since then I have relayed this story to many people, with everyone saying “What would they have done to you? How did you get home? Do you think they raped you?”
Have you ever heard of any other incidents like this? I’m still baffled as to what they got from me that night.
To this day I am very weary of wolves in sheep’s clothing. I have been called a transphobe. Phobia meaning a fear, I think I have every right to be a bit fearful of men wearing dresses.
[*Moderator's note: I take this submission to be relevant to the issue of women-only spaces, because this woman had a reasonable expectation that the 'friends interested in becoming clients' would be women or gay men, and was more trusting on this basis. I have not edited the submission, I support her right to tell her experience in her own words.]