Icy Stares and Hot Springs

I didn't wear my hat while on vacation.

I didn’t wear my hat while on vacation.

The game plan for my vacation in New Mexico was to go gender free as much as possible; to only use women’s facilities when absolutely necessary. I did nothing to soften or tone down my gender expression. I dressed comfortably and to please myself. I tried to carry myself as if I belonged everywhere I went. No shame. No apologies.

This plan worked better than any other plan I’ve followed. I found the family/accessible restrooms in the airports. I swam in the hotel pool in my trunks and rash guard. I also wore them in the two hot springs we visited. I had a serious massage at a spa where there was no mention by me, or the masseuse, of my top surgery/scars.

The only place that was a problem was the changing room in the spa. We stayed at the Ojo Caliente MIneral Springs Resort & Spa. We booked a room in the 1916 “historic” hotel wing. So historic, that guests must shower in the spa locker rooms before and after “taking the waters”. There was no shower in the room, or even down the hall. It is rustic, and less expensive than the newer rooms. A little like travelling on a budget in Europe.

hot-springs3

The hot springs pools at Ojo Caliente

The spa’s policy is that you can hang out all day on both the day of your arrival and the day of your departure (swim in the big pool, soak in the hot spring pools, and use the spa facilities). Two days of spa use for one night’s stay. We arrived before check-in time, and were given towels, bathrobes, and keys to our lockers. We took our swim suits and our flip-flops, and headed for the women’s changing/shower rooms. I wanted to swim and soak before my massage.

I got a few double-takes going in, but it was too crowded for a man to have genuinely made a mistake by entering. No one paid any attention to my trunks and rash guard. Leaving the locker room I surprised a woman who was entering, but she double-checked the door sign, caught herself, and smiled awkwardly.

Coming back in from the massage, wearing only flip-flops and a robe, I got the hard stare. I am familiar with this stare. This is the stare that says “I know that you are not really a man, but you are not really a woman either. I know that you are queer, I don’t like sharing my locker room with you, and I wish I could make you go away.” Maybe I read too much into it.

When I enter a women’s restroom I feel like I am crashing someone else’s private club or sorority. I don’t understand the rituals, don’t know the secret passwords, and don’t follow the unwritten dress code. My presence interrupts conversations. I am socially excluded, but I have no place else to go. I’m so used to it that I forget how stressful it is, even when no one says anything.

In hindsight, I could have splurged for a more expensive room with a shower, I could have only used the pools after check-in (or stayed two nights), and I could have avoided the locker room altogether. It didn’t bother Donna at all. She was oblivious.

It doesn't take much to make me happy.

It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

The last day of our vacation we went to Jemez Springs. We stayed in a motel with a standard bathroom across the road from the Giggling Springs Spa. The owner of the spa was friendly, the changing rooms were all-gender palapas (see photo), and the shower was outdoors. The hot spring pools were small; but set in a lovely garden. I soaked in the steamy mineral water and I relaxed. No big deal.

Notes: I’ll get another chance to try this out in August when we go back to Gloucester, MA for a week at the beach.

I haven’t gotten into the arguments about HB2 (North Carolina bathroom bill) and how they affect me because there are too many other good articles out there. I particularly like Katha Pollitt’s piece in The Nation on violence against women, and this piece from the Advocate on Liberty Counsel (the legal team behind the anti-trans legislation and Kim Davis).

15 thoughts on “Icy Stares and Hot Springs

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Glad to be back, but also liked having a break from both reading and writing. I’m still processing the post top-surgery experience of getting EKG’s, a massage, etc. and that I am most comfortable assuming that the “medical professional” will be professional and not saying anything. Will undoubtedly get easier, but still is a little strange (scars are still prominent).

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Lesboi

        Are you using anything on the scars or do you not worry about it? I haven’t even begun to have to deal with how medical professionals will handle my surgery results. All in good time I guess.

        Like

      2. Jamie Ray Post author

        Based on some reading and one guy’s recommendation, I used Mepitac silicon tape (.8 inches wide) available via Amazon, for about two months and then I got bored with it. My surgeon said it was not necessary, and doubted that it did much, but also said that it was completely harmless. My surgeon recommended doing nothing.

        Like

  1. Kris

    I thought the hat of the woman in the middle of the queue would be quite becoming on you! Just teasing! 😀 Nice to have you back – sounds like you had a good time overall.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      The picture is from the Ascot Races in the UK. Hats are required – (I hate hats and will not wear them unless absolutely necessary). This is a link to explanation, with some more pictures. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3471374/Ascot-unveils-official-style-guide-reminder-guests-really-SHOULDN-T-wear.html
      I haven”t gone to anything with a dress code in a few years (last one was a wedding) and I think I will decline any invitations that have them (other than casual attire).

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Kris

        Yeah, I agree on the hat. Love my cap, though! Thanks for the link – some scary hats there. Asked madam if she would like one, got an icy stare back. I guess it is a no. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      All of the US is super binary-gender; some places are just more tolerant. But it only takes one bigot to say something stupid, or give the hate stare. New York is pretty cool, but diverse enough to include vocal bible thumpers – I’ve been told to repent by subway preachers (I’ve quoted Patti Smith back to them “Jesus died for your sins, not mine”).

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. anexactinglife

    I was thinking of you and wondering how your vacation was going. I like the idea of acting with a feeling of ownership. It must be feel different to have to actually adopt this as a strategy, instead of just “being” it, as most cis people experience.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      I think I am more comfortable not compromising – no concessions. This time I travelled with no jewerly (no studs in my ears) and I didn’t bring a women’s bathing suit “just in case”. It is a little easier in the US since I speak the language and can answer back – if we try to go to Italy in October it may be more of a challenge (but a fun challenge).

      Like

      Reply
  3. parkerdell

    I forget how stressful it can be walking the line between and outside gender sometimes, because I never go on holiday and I keep to my routines. I’m glad you still managed to have a pleasant holiday, and upset some bigots just by existing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
      1. parkerdell

        There must be something- there’s trans swimming and yoga in Manchester, and that’s a much smaller city. But I get the feeling trans folk in the UK are better connected sometimes- I think the healthcare system backs us up in that way. My local doctor has posters and flyers for lots of LGBT and trans groups.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s