I have many good things to say about my stay at a Marriott Hotels Residence Inn, earlier this week. Being transgender, I have a relatively unusual situation and had a relatively unusual experience. Albeit most positive, it was not perfect.
The company just sent me a nice “thank you” email and asked if anything could be improved, so I replied as follows:
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I was delighted with your staff and everyone was super-nice.
However, one wrinkle is that I’m transgender and not everyone knew quite how to deal with that. I look and sound like a weird mix of male and female. In fact, I AM a weird mix of male and female. This weirds many people out, which is one more reason why I think your staff is wonderful.
Regardless of how they felt, they treated me in a way such that I felt accepted and warm.
The thing is, though, I’m basically female and my driver’s license as presented at check-in says “Female.” I’m in the process of changing my name and I’m planning to do more voice training and facial surgery, which will all help me to come across as more female than not. Until then, it’s understandable that folks might as yet call me “Sir” even though I tend to cringe at it, not least since I go out of my way to wear feminine clothing, feminine make-up, feminine shoes, etc. I even walk and move in a feminine way.
Perhaps if it were pointed out to your staff that someone is basically female even though she’s got a deep voice, large hands and a square jaw, it might make them feel more comfortable because they’re not humoring a male guest who likes to wear female clothing in public, but they’re just basically dealing with a girl as a girl (albeit one with a genetic chromosome problem that caused her to be born with a mix of parts).
So, even though I was sometimes called “Sir” it was still a nice visit. A little bit of extra staff training so that someone is called “Ma’am” if her driver’s license at check-in reads “Female” would be nicer yet. Typically, if someone goes out of their way to look female even though there are male cues, then it’s probably a good guess that she’s transgender.
Until relatively recently, being transgender was considered a mental health issue. It’s only recently become declassified as such and recognized as a genetic issue. So, it’s a relatively new thing for transgender people to be out and about as I was at your Inn, as opposed to operating in stealth mode.
If it’s too much of a mine-field for your staff to guess someone’s gender, then perhaps a good policy might be to teach folks to omit the “Sir” or “Ma’am” as opposed to guessing incorrectly.
Anyway, these are minor issues, and your staff was a delight in spite of any of this.