New York City is a place where anything is possible. That includes finding fun things to do when you’re living as your authentic self, or even if you’re giving a femme gender identity a tryout. Let’s face it: New Yorkers have seen it all, and they mind their own business—just don’t walk too slowly or stop to snap a selfie! It’s a great place to find yourself, make a statement or blend into the crowd.
“Having lived in a small Midwestern town, I appreciate what this city brings to the table,” says writer Kara Tucker, one of several transgender women who shared with us some of the spots they go with their trans girlfriends to laugh, shop, learn and connect.
Stonewall National Monument
53 Christopher St., West Village
“Almost everyone trans who visits asks me to take them to the Stonewall—and I love doing it,” says Kristen Browde, an NYC-area attorney. “Stonewall inspires and reenergizes me every time I’m there. The Inn and the national monument right out front are pivotal locations in the movement for equality—the places where Marsha P. Johnson threw the first shoe and where Sylvia Rivera and Miss Major joined in pushing back—literally—against oppression and bigotry, changing the world conversation about being transgender or LGBT. And on top of the history, the people are friendly, the drinks are good and not expensive.”
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
208 W. 13th St., West Village
Founded in 1983, this is the go-to hub for LGBTQ education, information, meet-ups and so much more. “I’ve sat in on an acting class with Laverne Cox, listened to lectures by community leaders and met pro-bono attorneys about legal issues,” says journalist Dawn Ennis.
Bureau of General Services Queer Division Bookstore
208 W. 13th St, West Village
The Bureau of General Services Queer Division is a bookstore catering to the queer community, located on the second floor of the LGBT Community Center, and a place where lonely hearts might find a lot more than just another page-turner. “BGSQD is one of the best places for trans and queer literature in the city,” says poet and professor Trace Peterson. “I’ve attended or read at a dozen or so events there.”
965 Madison Ave., Upper East Side
“Go big or go home” is the perfect mantra for this posh shop for shoes, according to author and Barnard professor Jennifer Finney Boylan, who knows full-well how frustrating it can be for trans women to find pretty footwear in their size. “Designer shoes usually either run small to size, or assume people over a size 10 don’t exist, but Christian Louboutin steps in where the others falter, and gives the large-footed among us a welcome chance to indulge in rich leather, metal spikes and lacquered soles.”
Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
26 Wooster St., Soho
Billing itself as the world’s only museum dedicated to LGBTQ art, the Leslie-Lohman has a wide-ranging collection that includes art by and for trans women. “I’m excited to see this summer’s exhibit of Donna Gottschalk’s photography,” says art enthusiast Charlotte Hershey, a fan of the radical lesbian whose work focusing on Brave, Beautiful Outlaws will be on display for eight months beginning in late August. “She documented how her sibling transitioned and came out as her sister, and then met a cruel fate. It’s important we recognize the violence trans women experience.”
The American Museum of Natural History Rose Center for Earth and Space
Central Park West and West 79th Street, Upper West Side
The museum’s planetarium is a space to examine our place in the universe, understand the cosmos and learn about what—and maybe who—lies far beyond the City’s skyscrapers. “We bring the whole universe down to earth in the middle of Manhattan,” says Rebecca Oppenheimer, curator-in-charge of the museum’s astrophysics research department. The museum has had out trans staff members since the 1990s and was on the vanguard of providing trans-inclusive health care coverage. “The surrounding Upper West Side is probably one of the most liberal and accepting neighborhoods in the City,” adds Oppenheimer. “Many trans people call it home, including me.” So go explore, before or after your museum visit.
Broadway Comedy Club
318 W. 53rd St., Hell’s Kitchen
Need a laugh? Check out Tammy Twotone and a roster of amazing trans comics, as well as some big-name cisgender allies. Tammy’s Twist, according to cofounder Lorelei Erisis, is the first and only regularly occurring comedy show at a mainstream comedy club produced, hosted and run by trans people. “We get to make the jokes rather than be the target of them,” says writer Kara Tucker.
One World Trade Center
285 Fulton St., Lower Manhattan
The tower that rises next to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum pays tribute to our nation’s resilience. And twice North America’s tallest skyscraper has been illuminated in the pink, white and blue colors of the transgender flag, designed by pioneer Monica Helms. Last March, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the tower be lit to recognize Trans Day of Visibility, and then again in June, on Trans Day of Action during Pride Week. One of the activists who spearheaded the effort, Hannah Simpson, says, “Flying the flag reminds the haters that we won’t just crawl back under a rock for the next 364 days.”
The Appel Room at Frederick P. Rose Hall
10 Columbus Circle, Midtown West
Downtown cabaret star and transgender trailblazer Justin Vivian Bond, who uses the pronoun “v,” hosts a one-night-only show (February 15) as part of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series. “Justin Vivian Bond is Down on Creation: On Top of the World with The Carpenters” reconsiders the music of 1970s pop duo Karen and Richard Carpenter. Look out for Mx. Bond at other times on stages around the City, including at Joe’s Pub, in the Public Theater.
Museum of Sex
233 Fifth Ave., Nomad
“To me, this is a place anyone can visit and explore, no matter how you identify,” says Ennis, who is a single widow. “There’s an exhibit that reimagines trans women as religious icons, and I adore Bill Bernstein’s photographs from the anything-goes disco era of the late 1970s.”