Yay for the Arkansas State Police (Yes, Really)

I was driving along highway 40 in Arkansas, doing 80-something in a 70 mph zone. I was trying to catch a flight out of Little Rock airport. Had I not been pulled over for speeding, I would have made it. As it happened, I did get pulled over, I missed the flight, and had to stay overnight in a hotel in Little Rock, and fly out the next day.

Getting a speeding ticket isn’t ever fun for me, and in this case was even less so.

I am a 6 foot tall transgender girl, clearly not a genetically integrated girl and clearly not simply male either. My aesthetics have an effect that tends to fluster especially young males, and not in a good way. I take it as it comes but I don’t like it.

When I was being pulled over, I was wearing female clothing, female shoes, female make-up, female jewelry and my driver’s license says “F” as its gender.

Southern States in general, and Arkansas not being an exception, don’t have a reputation for being particularly transgender-friendly. I’d recently seen a video of how a Ranger in Southern California treated a transgender girl in a way that I can only classify as police brutality, and gee, California is supposed to be relatively transgender-friendly. So I wasn’t all that optimistic as to how my speeding ticket experience might play out. But, everything ended up just fine.

In fact, I have some very nice things to say about the officer who gave me that speeding ticket. I even wrote to the Arkansas State Police Public Affairs folks about it. Reason: I appreciate the officer’s approach and professionalism.

Not everyone deals with my situation well. I could go on an on about this.

By contrast, the officer who pulled me over for speeding either has received good training on what transgender girls are and how to deal with us or he was just naturally gracious and savvy.

I especially appreciated how he suggested that I bring a coat before stepping out of the car, because it’s cold. That was thoughtful and nice.

Being a transgender girl isn’t easy but being treated like essentially just one more citizen … I appreciate that.

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Yay for the TSA in Little Rock, AR

I just posted the below on the TSA website:

I have some very nice things to say about the TSA in general and at Little Rock, AR especially.  What made it especially nice is how transgender-friendly and transgender-savvy *everyone* was.

I’m a 6′ tall transgender girl, clearly not a genetically integrated girl and clearly not simply male either.  My aesthetics have an effect that tends to fluster especially young males, and not in a good way.  I take it as it comes but I don’t like it.

I was about to fly to San Francisco for business, and I was wearing female clothing, female shoes, female make-up, female jewelry and my driver’s license says “F” as its gender.

Even so, half an hour before arriving at the airport, I had just left a hotel where the front-desk staff seemed to feel so awkward that I chose to leave early (breakfast was included with the room price but I chose to skip breakfast). The staff wasn’t mean, just struggling to deal with the concept.  By contrast, everyone I dealt with at the Little Rock TSA either has received good training on what transgender girls are and how to deal with us (like any other girl) or everyone was just naturally gracious and savvy.

I was wearing designer jeans and they set off the detector, and one of the TSA staff said “hold on there, lady” which I appreciated.  And, the staffer who was going to pat me down asked if I wanted to be patted down as male or female.  I appreciated that too. I told her “I’m female, so …..” and things proceeded accordingly.  It set a nice tone for the remainder of my day.

TripAdvisor

I feel even more empowered now.  I just signed up with TripAdvisor and I posted some happy feedback about transgender-friendly hotels and restaurants that I visited during my recent travels. I love being able to speak out.

I would presume that management reads these reviews and probably pays attention to this aspect especially since it’s relatively unusual in the grand scheme of things.

I had nice things to say about the Fairfield Inn in Flagstaff, the Hilton Garden Inn in OKC, the Best Western in Santa Clara, two restaurants in Las Vegas, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

I consider it important to be positive, using the good-manager principle of “catch someone doing something right.” Since many transgender girls tend to be (understandably) bitter, this sort of positive vibe is probably a breath of fresh air.

Some Super-Nice Feedback for Treasure Island, Las Vegas

Something I just posted on the hotel’s website:

I stayed at Treasure Island, Las Vegas for four nights, and I’d be happy to do so again. In every way I can list, the quality was wonderful — the check-in staff, the folks who helped with luggage, the Starbucks folks, the coffee shop servers, the housekeeping staff … but what made it especially nice is how transgender-friendly *everyone* was.

I’m a 6′ tall transgender girl, clearly not a genetically integrated girl and clearly not male either.  My aesthetics have an effect that tends to fluster especially young males, and not in a good way.  I take it as it comes but I don’t like it.

I just finished writing a review about another hotel where the front-desk staff seemed to feel so awkward that I chose to leave early.  They weren’t mean, just struggling to deal with the concept.  By contrast, everyone I dealt with at Treasure Island, Las Vegas either has received good training on what transgender girls are and how to deal with us (like any other girl) or everyone was just naturally gracious and savvy.

Either way, my stay there was super-nice and I liked it a lot.  It’s such a relief to simply be treated like the girl that I essentially am, without it being an issue.

Some Nice Feedback for Comfort Inns

I recently made a road trip that involved driving to Little Rock, AR.  I stayed at the Comfort Inn by the airport and flew out of there to SFO.  The front desk staff saw me both when I was tired after many miles’ worth of driving, and also the next morning when I was dressed elegantly as befitting formal professional training in San Francisco.

I’m a 6′ tall transgender girl, clearly not a genetically integrated girl and clearly not male either.  And, I either look nice or the folks who pay me hundreds of dollars for private strip shows need to get white canes.  My aesthetics have an effect that tends to fluster the male of the species and not in a good way.  I take it as it comes but I don’t like it.

The hotel’s front desk staff seemed nice but awkward when they interacted with me. I didn’t like that. So, the emailed hotel feedback survey got the following comment:

“I like Comfort Inns, have stayed at them for many years and I plan to stay at them again too, but I think some training would help the staff at this particular location (Little Rock, AR).  I’m a transgender girl and I think your front desk staff had a hard time with it.  They seemed to feel awkward about me.  I think they tried as hard as they could to be nice and professional to me. I have no complaints as such, but I think how to deal with people like me isn’t something that they seemed to be ready for.  In all fairness, most people don’t know what a transgender girl is or how to deal with her — so I’m not picking on your staff, just pointing out what could have made things nicer yet for me. As things were, even though the breakfast was included in the deal, I chose to not have breakfast at the hotel but I chose to go to the airport and have breakfast there instead.  I’m not hinting for a partial refund, just explaining that things seemed awkward enough that I chose to remove myself and pay for a breakfast elsewhere instead of having the no-extra-charge breakfast at the hotel.  In case you, as the reader of this feedback form, also are not clear as to what a transgender girl is: a few individuals have a condition by which their mental wiring is, even before birth, basically female — but their reproductive system and thus their hormones at puberty are male, and the body develops into a male adult shape.  Typically the person tries to ignore their mental wiring and tries to fit into male subculture and it typically takes a few decades for the person to realize that it’s a futile recipe for misery, and so the person transitions to walking, talking and dressing as the girl she basically is, but by then she often has a male-shaped face and body.  She often looks unusual to most people.  Her looks often feel awkward to the girl too, which is why girls like me tend to work hard, and save our money and spend it on surgeries and treatments so that we visually look more and more like the person we basically are inside.  Until relatively recently, the official premise was that transgender girls are simply nuts and need to get a grip on reality, sort of like being gay was considered a mental disorder until 1973.  But, relatively recent studies showed that being a transgender girl is not a mental health problem but a genetic problem, sort of like someone born with a harelip, and the mental health professional standards have been revised accordingly.  It’s not great but it is what it is.  So, in the same way as someone with a harelip would (even while looking unusual) rather be treated like just one more welcome, basically decent human being by your front desk staff, so would I.  And, that’s not the vibe I got.  It was more of a “you’re odd and I’m trying to deal with it” vibe.  Often the confusion arises out of thinking “it’s a guy in female clothing” or “that’s really a guy” or “that used to be a guy.”  Focusing on essentials, a transgender girl isn’t a guy and never was.  I suspect most folks don’t realize that a transgender girl is essentially, simply a female, even if it is one who’s 6′ tall with large hands and feet.  The female make-up, dress code etc. is typically the clue.  Of course, it’s also possible that a transvestite or a cross-dresser shows up at your front desk in female clothing, but statistically that’s the far-less-likely scenario.  Such people tend to do their thing in private and they do it as a rare erotic thing, not as part of living life every day. If you see someone with male visual cues and female clothing, make-up etc. then it’s most likely a transgender girl like me who is simply trying to make it through the day with integrity as to the person she fundamentally is. If I could look 100% female instead, I’d rather – but until modern science enables that, life goes on and I’d rather not have it be awkward for your staff or for me.”

It’s OK to Socially Guide People

I have a wonderfully thoughtful friend who is sensitive as to how to deal with transgender issues, but he has explained to me how these issues are less-than intuitive to many people, and that he recently winced when his wife referred to a transgender girl as “he.”

In all fairness, though, I can see how dealing with this issue politely can be confusing to the general public, even if these are generally nice people.  Cultural awareness has to start somewhere.  So, I (nicely) guide people.

Example: The other day, I was shopping for a lovely dress via the phone (the company’s website had issues).  The saleslady referred to me as “Sir” even though by now my voice is, I’m told, pretty darn close to the middle of the M-to-F range not just in pitch but as to the nine basic elements that differentiate gender as to speech.

I mentioned to her that I’m transgender and that it tends to mess with my head when people call me “Sir. ” Without any objection, the  saleslady acknowledged the point, and sailed right along into a discussion on the specifics of the dress.  Yay!