Living Mask Free: Baring My Face and Transness to the World

Tris Mamone
3 min readMay 28, 2021

Originally published at https://www.splicetoday.com.

Maryland recently announced that fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks inside of businesses anymore based on the CDC’s updated guidelines. Some places still require masks, like Rise Up Coffee Roasters here in Easton, but most don’t. I’ll still wear one for now because it’s unclear whether the CDC made the right decision. According to the New York Times, most epidemiologists think Americans need to wear masks in public buildings for at least another year, even with vaccinations. Several people online also remind everyone that the CDC originally said masks weren’t necessary during the early days of the pandemic. That’s the problem with following the science: by the time new data is discovered, too much damage has already been done.

I went into Target last week without a mask. The sign on the door said they only recommend, not demand, masks for people not fully vaccinated. I asked an employee cleaning carts by the entrance if I had to show my vaccination card. She said no, so I put on some lipstick and began strutting around the store, my face and transness bared before the world. Nobody said anything, just like nobody said anything the day before when I got coffee at Rise Up wearing a skirt.

Being unmasked is both liberating and frightening. I’m lucky never to have faced any transphobic violence, threats, or harassment living in Maryland’s conservative Eastern Shore area. The most I get is puzzled looks from people not sure if I’m a man or a woman. Yet the possibility is always there that one day the puzzled looks will turn to something else. A Trump fanatic or a TERF might corner me in a store and accuse me of harming children, even though I’m just buying groceries. Maryland may have anti-discrimination laws, but bigots don’t care.

I’ve been watching the new FX docuseries Pride, which chronicles the past six decades of the LGBTQ rights movement, starting with the 1950s. Pride Month has become a big corporate-sponsored party, leaving many to worry whether we’ve forgotten our roots. I’m glad the elders fought for us to be where we are now, with same-sex marriage legalized, HIV no longer a death sentence thanks to medicine, and anti-discrimination laws in several states. But the fight…

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Tris Mamone

LGBTQ News Columnist and Journalist. They/them. Bylines: Splice Today, Rewire, Swell, HuffPost, INTO, etc. trismamone@gmail.com