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.”