- June
Posted By : Ava Zinn
Ava's Vacation from Hell…

This is one post that no transwoman visitor to Indianapolis wants to post on her blog and find herself in that position.

It is every transwoman’s worst nightmare, to being homeless, having her purse stolen, cell phone stolen, and being sexually assaulted during her vacation. I never thought this would ever happen to me, but it did .

I saw a lot of homeless people in Indianapolis and became one of them–even on vacation. The things I saw suprised me as this was the first time in my life I had become homeless (no hotels that met my standards) until I arrived in Indianapolis on June 9, 2010.

Between 1:45 and 1:50 AM June 10, 2010, I realized I was being homeless and lukily I was prepared for that inevitability, but never thought my purse, which contained nearly everything–including my wallet, my boarding pass needed to get back home, customer loyalty cards, debit card from my bank,  credit cards, my identification, cell phone charger, etc) wallet was stolen around the 150 block of East Market Street in Indianapolis. Having lived in Marion for almost 14 years and a nearly lifelong resident of Grant County, I knew nothing about Indianapolis (other than the television stations and now learn that Indy is the second largest transgendered population) even though I already took a lot of caution in my own hometown of Van Buren and having the best training from Mississinewa Community Schools. But it just goes to show that it really does take only two seconds for something terrible happening on vacation, or for someone to take advantage of an opportunity to grab something off your person or out of your bag. What is even worse, I was sexually assaulted on vacation and that too was reported to police.

I was lucky enough to immediately notice that my wallet and keys were missing from my purse, and the local police department was fairly average compared to Marion’s. Unlike Marion, I had to wait 48 hours and since I was hoping at the time to come back to Marion on June 11 and did not want to become stranded at the Greyhound station there. I filled out a police report.  Unfortunately, I found myself panhandling (if you know what I was talking about) and thanks to someone, I was finally heading home the second I bought the ticket back to Marion.

Though my purse (and everything in it) may never be recovered. Once I arrived back in Marion, I cancelled my credit cards and more the very second I arrived in the city limits, which was a huge relief. Later that Friday, I went to my bank to report my debit card as stolen and wrote a note to my landlord about what happened. 

I learned a lot from this experience, though I was very stressed about not having any access to money or my ID, which meant no bars or clubbing. I was more worried about getting back on the bus, but actually ended purchasing the one-way ticket, despite the police report. It wasn’t until I got back home, though, that I was able to start replacing everything that had been in my wallet.

Another lesson I may have learned considerably is to invest in better luggage that is easier on the back.

If you are traveling and find yourself in a similar situation as I did, know that this kind of thing does happen and there are procedures in place to help you out.

1. Make copies of your passport (if you have one), driver’s license, credit cards, and make a list of all the cards and things that you have in your wallet and purse. You’ll be amazed how much stuff you carry around with you, from library cards to CVS cards to family pictures and emergency contact cards, not to mention your health insurance cards, etc. Give these copies to a family member that you can contact in case of an emergency.

2. Invest in Traveler’s Cheques from American Express (some places don’t accept these). You can pick them up at your local bank or an American Express store near you. These are especially important if you are traveling overseas.

3. Use Your Hotel Safe (if staying at a hotel): Lock anything you can into the hotel safe in your room, such as passports (which you should never carry on your person during the day while visiting tourist sites unless that is your only form of ID), extra money that you don’t need and maybe even one credit card if you have a few. Also lock away any important documents, and your traveler’s cheque form. Only carry what you absolutely need.

If Your Wallet, Passport, or Purse is Stolen

1. Cancel Your Credit Cards Immediately: If you are alone, you will want to cancel your credit cards right away, even before contacting the police. If you are traveling with someone, one of you should start canceling the credit cards while the other person calls for the police. If your phone is stolen you will want to go to your hotel where the concierge will be able to help you.

2. File a Police Report: Even though it’s a pain to wait around for the police to show up (or for you to wait around at the local police station), having a police report will be key to so many situations that follow. It will help with any credit card disputes you have to make, and the airlines will ask to see it before you can get your boarding pass to fly home.

3. Visit the U.S. Consulate: If you are overseas, you will need to visit the U.S. Consulate in that country in order to get a new temporary passport. This is necessary for your trip home, and it will also be helpful to speak with some Americans about your situation.

4. Order a New License: Many DMVs now offer an online renewal process for people whose licenses are lost or stolen. The sooner you can get this process started, the better, if you have access to the Internet while away from home. Some DMVs take up to four weeks to get a new license to you, and if you have to wait until you get home to even apply for the renewal, it will add time and worry to your situation.

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