The Guatemalan equivalent of “Can I help you sir?” is either “Hola amigo!” or “Señor?” I spent three weeks in Guatemala without using a gendered bathroom except in a few restaurants where the bathrooms were in the back and I could use them relatively unnoticed. Donna used many “servicios sanitarios” in the markets but I avoided them. I didn’t want to risk being challenged, and I don’t speak enough Spanish to respond appropriately.
I found it hard to balance being comfortable in my clothes and comfortable on the street. I opted for the basic butch t-shirt and jeans look. Donna wore purple and pink; loose linen tops and pants. She always looks slightly dressed up and put together.
In the western highland areas of Guatemala, most of the women wear traditional Mayan clothes (skirt, blouse, sash, apron, shawl). Most of the men wear contemporary western clothing (a lot of A&F and HCO knock-offs for sale in the markets). My jeans and t-shirt blended me in with the guys. They saw me first as a gringo; then they dealt with my gender presentation. I caused a lot of confusion. Continue reading