Traveling to Guatemala

travelling_while_butch_in_guatemalaDonna and I are about to embark on a three-week vacation to Guatemala. The vacation will be og-less. No dog, no blog. Donna will have me all to herself. You will get a three-week break in posts. Gracie will spend three weeks with our dog walker.

I am hesitant to go on vacation. I like to travel. I know I am lucky. It is a luxury to have a job and vacation time and a partner who likes to travel. I have a bunch of books I’ve stockpiled to read. I’ve been reading up on Guatemalan history and Mayan culture. I am hesitant because my dysphoria increases when I am out of my comfort zone. Guatemala is out of my comfort zone.

This is my first time traveling as Jamie. My new passport says Jamie, my driver’s license says Jamie, my credit cards say Jamie, my tickets say Jamie. Donna even says Jamie 95% of the time. Last year when we went to India, I went as Amy. I waited to change my name until Donna was comfortable with me taking on a new name; I did not want to jeopardize the relationship anymore than I already had by saying I was transgender. It has been a rough year.

When Donna met me I was a baby butch. Now I am a middle-aged butch who also identifies as transgender. The process has been hard for her. She has had to wrap her brain around a lot of concepts she didn’t expect to be thinking about. She has had to consider whether she wants to go through this with me (whatever the “this” is). A lot of women go running in the other direction. She is standing her ground.

I never traveled before I met Donna. I don’t come from a traveling family unless you consider running from a pogrom traveling. I was raised to think that travel was what ostentatious rich people did to show off their jewelry. And, since we lived in the greatest city on earth (New York), with the greatest museum in the world (The Met), there was no reason to go anywhere else. You could see all the world’s wonders for free, right here. Donna changed that. She got me going.

Is_this_a_bus_for_a_butch_trans_blogger?I need to remember that I travel to get out of my rut. To shake up my queer New York centric view of the world. To think about other people’s history instead of my own.

Three weeks of traveling independently is a lot of time together. A lot of time to talk about our relationship and my butch-trans*-iness. Donna has always wanted to go to Guatemala. She is interested in Mayan indigenous culture and textiles. I am interested in Mayan ruins and colonial architecture. Donna will be open and charming; she will chat up other travelers and any locals who speak English. What will I be?

Donna taught me to travel light. I wish I could do it spiritually, but I will settle for the physical part. I need to winnow my stuff down so that it fits in my pack. I have sudden urges to buy new items for a trip, as if a new shirt or new sneakers will magically make everything OK, and my anxiety and dysphoria will disappear. I know the opposite is true; to reduce my dysphoria I should take old, proven, comfortable, favorites. There is a pile of clothing on my bed. I can only fit a quarter of it in the pack. A worn black T-shirt and broken-in jeans are my equivalent of a blankie. They are probably all I will wear no matter what else I bring.

Lastly, there is how I will be seen on vacation, and the tension that arises in our relationship when I am with Donna and I am read as male (Donna is not amused by this at all). From her vantage point we are an obvious butch/femme couple and she wants to keep it that way. Donna will be standing her ground in Guatemala; but I feel it shifting subtly under me.

46 thoughts on “Traveling to Guatemala

  1. rmiles

    Try to enjoy yourself and the time with your partner. Maybe try to look at this vacation as a break from all that the two of you face at home, all that will still be there when you return. Have a fun and safe trip. Peace.

  2. segmation

    Thanks for posting this wonderful blog. It is nice to open us to your thoughts. I can’t wait to read your blog when you get back. I am sure that you and your partner will have some awesome stories to share! Be safe!

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thanks for reading. I was completely taken by surprise to be Freshly Pressed. I figured using tags that the only people who would end up reading the blog would be those cruising the queer/trans/butch/lesbian topics or getting to me through the wonders of Google. Live and learn.

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I couldn’t resist the name of your blog and took a look, not knowing what to expect. The photographs are beautiful (learn how to take real pictures with i-phone is now on the list of things that must be learned). I am going to go back when I have time so that I can read the posts in earnest.

  3. Life Of An Optimistic Kid

    I hope you had a great time. I’m from Guatemala currently living in Las Vegas. I would like to go back some time soon!

  4. moodsnmoments

    a new trip, a new identity, a new you…with the comfort of your old love. brilliant absolutely – i hope you have a wonderful time. look forward to your update once you’re back. bon voyage to you and Donna.
    good luck and congratulations!

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  8. Kristin Morris

    Freshly Pressed is a great tool for reaching, as you say, beyond your core audience. I’m a heterosexual married woman living in the midwest (but have a dear cousin and his husband living on 23rd in NYC, so can relate a little) and I enjoyed reading your honest blog AND hope I can read the rest of it when you’ve returned. One interesting point you brought out in all this intrigues me, and that is the reaction of a lesbian when her partner seeks to identify with her “male self” (excuse me; I don’t have a grasp on the lingo) and I wonder if it is nothing more than a needed catalyst for her own personal healing (perhaps a disdain for men?) Again, just musing here. Peace and joy to you both on this grand adventure!

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thanks for commenting. I think any personal change has the potential to disrupt a relationship. Rethinking my identity as butch vs. transgender makes Donna have to re-assess her identity as lesbian or as the female partner of someone who is transgender (yes, that is an awkward statement-and you are right there is no good lingo to describe it). Even though I am essentially the same person, the relationship somehow morphs into something different.

  9. Scott Shaver

    This is my first visit to your blog, so I am not totaly up to date what it is all about. However I really liked this post, I find it refreshing that you can be who you are and very open about what you are! I will be back often to read more.

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thanks for visiting and for commenting. One of the great things about being Freshly Pressed is that a lot of people who would normally not read the topics that I post under have read some of my posts.

  10. jumeirajames

    I’m interested in some of the technical aspects of your journey. What name was in your passport? Do you look like a man or just a woman in jeans and a shirt?

    I do apologise if my comment is inappropriate, I am genuinely interested to know.

    And congratulations of being ‘pressed’

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      So my new first and middle names are Jamie Ray, and all my documentation is in those names. The name can go either way – it can be used by men or by women. There is a picture of me on my about page that is a couple of years old. In terms of what I look like – it is more about how people “see” me, than what I actually look like. I do get “read” as male a lot by people who don’t know me, but it is “all in the eyes of the observer”.

      Thanks for the congrats and for commenting.

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  12. Lee Kaplanian

    I can see I have lived a very sheltered life – I have gay friends but don’t really know much about transgender. However, I am more interested in who you are, what you enjoy, your interests, your opinions. Please remember God loves you because you are. You also give your power away when you worry about what other people think – take it back and step into it, be who you are. Now I am a woman and it is quite obvious I am, but I am working on loving, accepting, approving and trusting myself rather than approval from outside. I probably would not be approved in much of society because I am Rubenesque, I don’t fit the slender, tall, beautiful blonde mold. I am learning to know who I am, not whether I fit the mold. I am working with 66 years of not fitting in, so I am definitely a work in progress.

    Have a wonderful trip and you might be surprised to find that as you and Donna work through the changes that it may strengthen your bonds.

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thanks for your comments. I try to write from a place of authenticity and in a way that is accessible. I never expected to be Freshly Pressed, and it has brought a lot of readers who are unfamiliar with the issue to my blog. It is great that you read it and found some commonality with it. Thanks again.

  13. Gustolatino

    Thanks Jamie for sharing your adventures, your feelings and more… Good look in Guatemala, I hope you and Donna go to some food markets and share it with me for my Latin American food blog :)

  14. genevafox

    I am new to blogging and word press. I really have enjoyed reading your posts. Being comfortable with being uncertain is not easy. I admire you for being true to yourself. Keep writing! I hope you enjoy your vacation.

  15. RonaFraser

    Hi! I came across you through Freshly Pressed. If I wasn’t at work (slacking off), I would read some back posts! Later… It’s funny because I am currently stressed out and packing… to go to NEW York City for a long weekend (celebrating my friend’s 50th birthday with her sister and niece). I too am stressed out (hence the slacking), caused partially by worrying about me and how I will be with them, but for completely different reasons. I’m having as yet undiagnosed health issues, which leaves me obsessed with finding gluten-free food all the time (I eat frequently and am mainly veggie) and am also tired all the time… so planning days of exploring the city makes me worried — will I feel like passing out? Will they think I’m stupid if I choose to snooze for the afternoon? Will I be a downer (I’m too tired to do that)? Will I seem controlling (I can’t eat that pub… can we eat at this freaky health food place)?
    ANYways… The good thing about travel (for you and Donna), is that you will likely have so much else to talk about (people you meet, things you see) that you maybe won’t dwell on stressful issues. I know when I travelled with my parents as an adult, it kinda felt like we were a club of sane people in a foreign land… so it also may bring you more together.
    Have a fantastic time, and I look forward to reading about it when you get back.
    PS. Remember that the things in our lives that we worry about are usually much bigger in our minds than they are to other people.

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thanks for your comments; I am enjoying seeing what the post prompts other people to think about. For your trip to NYC if you haven’t already found the listings, go to Blossom (they are an excellent vegetarian restaurant and have a number of gluten free options) or to Rissoteria (a gluten free restaurant although the food at Blossom is better). Good luck with it and thanks for reading.

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      We met a lot of people taking a few months off and traveling through from Mexico on down. Guatemala is definitely worth a long visit. One of the down sides of having a dog is that I am hesitant to go away for more than 3 or 4 weeks at a time. Maybe next time I am “in-between” dogs, I’ll do it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  17. silver

    Make this three weeks, the best time you people have ever had so far.
    After sometime, find out time for three more of such weeks. Do not let the reservoir of memories have any free space, fill it up. Let it overflow. :-)

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