"Jury Duty in a Dress"
Hi folks, I’ve got something really special for you today. When I learned that my crossdressing pal Dianna did jury duty in dress, I was so impressed. What a way to turn a loathsome chore into a fresh new chance to express your femme side and show people that we’re here and willing to pull our own weight like everyone else. Here’s my recent interview with her.
Alice: Dianna, can you offer our readers a little background on who you are and where you’re coming from as a trans person?
Dianna: I have been going out en femme for over 15 years. While I’m not full-time for family reasons, I go out into the real world two to three days a week, more often when my schedule allows. I go shopping, take dance lessons, and go out mostly in the straight world. I’m 5’8", size 8-10, and pass pretty well. I get lots of "Misses", "Ma’ams" and "She’s." My facial hair is nearly gone thanks to laser and electrolysis. My voice has gradually gone from horrible to unremarkably feminine over the years, just through practice and listening to how women use their voices.
Alice: How in the world did you conceive of the idea of jury duty in female form? Weren’t you afraid?
Dianna: When I got my notice to serve as a juror, I began to wonder how I’d be received if I went en femme. The state of California protects the transgendered from employment and housing discrimination. I have also chatted with a transgendered court-translator who works in the same court where I was summoned to serve. So I was hopeful that I wouldn’t be thrown out on my ear.
My main concern was embarrassment at being "made" in public. I knew that when the prospective jury panels were selected, that my male name would be called out loud. So, that was one hurdle I’d need to handle. In addition, while jurors are identified by number by the defense and prosecution, the judge and court clerk do have a list of people’s names. So the judge (if she was paying any attention at all) would note the gender discrepancy.
I figured that I would probably be identified as transgendered and be excluded from the panel – which was ok with me, since I don’t get paid for jury duty. If I did get on a trial, the next hurdle would be dealing with my fellow jurors’ discomfort, once I was read.
Alice: Well, how’d it go?
Dianna: The morning before going in, I made sure I was smooth all over, my eyebrows were in good shape, and my outfit ready. I’d gotten my nails done (French, 1/8" beyond my fingertips). I decided I’d dress as if I wanted to look nice for work. Jeans were out – this was an official and serious duty, and I didn’t want to look as if I were making a run to the grocery store.
I wore a stretchy black ¾ sleeve top with a nice but unrevealing neckline, and a very nice just-below-the-knee grey-checked silk skirt. Hose and black 2" pumps with a cute non-stiletto heel finished it up. I went with a medium length hairdo, just brushing my shoulders, in Chestnut. I lined my eyes, put on a couple coats of mascara, used a hint of sparkly gold eye shadow, and wore my favorite shade of lipstick. I wore a simple black necklace and matching bracelet, and some dangly earrings. I clipped on my juror badge, sprayed a hint of my perfume, and I was ready for work.
I got to enter through the employees and jurors entrance. I confidently put my purse in the x-ray conveyor and slowly walked through the metal detector – which beeped. The gal on the other side gave me a quick glance and waved me through – that was much better than a strip search!
Alice: So good, so far. Then?
Dianna: I went to the juror assembly room, which had sixty or seventy people in it, and gave the monitor my paperwork to scan. If they noted the discrepancy between my boy name and my girl look, they were very cool about it. I sat down and started reading my book. Soon the monitor gave her orientation talk, which included the part about our names being called when we were selected on a panel. Gulp! When she finished, I walked to the window and asked, "I’m a transsexual but haven’t changed my name – If you call me, could you use my female name?" "Oh, ok, we’ve got a lot of people here today, but we’ll try. What name do you want to use?"
"Dianna," I replied. She said okay, and I thanked her politely. I returned to my seat, and after a bit, the monitor gave us a fifteen-minute break. I was hungry so I went down to the snack shop on the first floor and bought a cookie. On the elevator back up, a youngish black guy looked at the cookie in my hand and said "Looks good. Can I have some?" I answered, "I should give you the whole thing, it has so many calories!" Was he flirting?
Alice: Did they consider you for a jury?
Dianna: After our break, the monitor announced that she would call thirty names for a jury panel. Gulp. I hoped they would use the right name. Finally, she called out Dianna MacBride, and I answered "Here," surviving the first test! The next phase was the voir dire, where they swear you in, you say a few things about yourself, and they ask questions. Only twelve out of the thirty would be picked, and I was quietly confident I would be one of the rejected ones. We had to say if we were single or married/partnered, what we did for a living, and what our S.O. and kids did. Since I’m married, I didn’t want to get into the situation of saying "I’m married, and my wife does…" So, when my turn came up, I said, "I’m a financial analyst, and my partner is a bookkeeper," finessing any embarrassing revelations.
Gradually, ten, then fifteen people were kicked off the island. At two points in the questioning, the judge and attorneys went off to a sidebar conference. I was certain (in my paranoia) that they were discussing my unusual situation. Finally, there were only twelve left in the jury seats – I’d been selected! The trial would start after the weekend.
Alice: Did you do anything special to get ready?
Dianna: Over the weekend, I bought some nice eel-skin sling-back pumps for a steal at DSW – they had a rubberized heel and sole which would be quieter on the marble courthouse floors. My other work pumps made quite a racket. The things we do for work. For trial day one, I wore my new shoes, a fun knee-length print skirt and a ribbed black stretch top. I had to keep fussing with the skirt to keep my knees from showing as I adjusted my position in the seat. From then on I wore longer skirts. I noticed that on the day of the trial that the women on our panel dressed up a bit more. All the women employees at court seemed to be wearing heels, and most were in skirts, so I was not out of place.
Alice: Any trials and tribulations for you during the trial?
Dianna: I chatted up several of the jurors during breaks in the courtroom drama. I figured that it would be best to get any reads and any initial wariness out of the way before we were locked in to our deliberations. An older guy on the panel actually flirted with me a bit! The bailiff held doors open for me several times, and both attorneys smiled at me regularly, and this really put me at ease. On another trip up the elevator, a thirty-something gal complimented me on my nails. When this happens, my paranoid side wonders if they want to probe my true gender by conversing with me, but I’m confident in my voice, and I’m more interested in having a friendly chat than worried about being read.
Finally, it was time for our deliberations. We were polite and respectful of each other, and save for one testy exchange between two other jurors, it went very well. I was concerned that everyone would be thinking Ugh, why do we have this weird Jerry-Springer tranny here? But if they were, they kept it well under wraps. They all seemed fine with me, and I even joked and laughed with several of them during breaks in the action.
All in all, it was a very successful experience. Not a single negative thing happened. I got to do my duty as a juror, and in my true gender, for five days. I can’t wait ‘till next time.
Alice: Dianna, thank you for sharing your experience with us and giving me and our readers a bold, new crossdressing idea as well as a fresh and effective way to let people know that we’re here.
Life’s rich, complex, and full of possibilities. Be careful and enjoy!
Alice Novic, M.D.
To learn more about me than you’d ever dare ask, please see my smart, sexy memoir, Alice in Genderland: A Crossdresser Comes of Age