Sunday, April 26, 2015
#1 on the list of scary places to wear a skirt as a dude: Truck Stop Restrooms
Pretty sure I could blog for a month just on the experiences of the last 24 hours. From buying the skirt, bumping into strangers and friends alike, to the truck stop.
Today was the last day of my latest round of continuing education as a coach, so in addition to the random folks in the hotel I checked out of and time with colleagues finishing the days work, I drove home. From Denver to Albuquerque. Look at it on a map some time. Between Colorado Springs and Santa Fe there is a no-man's land of small towns. And lots of truck stops. I knew I wanted to limit my stops to a single stop, and I made myself actually go into the restroom.
Before I describe the terror of using a men's restroom while wearing a skirt, I need to acknowledge several things. Folks tell me I'm a substantial human these days. But somewhere inside is still the little dude who was always gasping for breath on the bottom of the smear the queer pile or getting his face pounded in for one reason or another. I've never been man enough, white enough, or anything enough that was important. At least, that's the story the little boy tells. This is also nothing compared to the reality of so many folks today who are queer in one way or another. All we have to do is check the headlines to find another hate crime or domestic violence incident.
I pushed open the door to the truck stop and the familiar smell hit me: coffee dogs. That unique boutique of burned coffee and flavorless tubular meat product known as the truck stop hot dog. Maybe the key is to dip the dog in the coffee? My toes curled. As I looked around for the restrooms, trying my hardest to not make eye contact and once again wonder why I cared what a complete stranger was thinking behind the face they were making, I could feel the tension creep up my legs. Spotting the bathroom, part of me tried to bolt back to the car, rationalizing how much safer it would be to just pull off on the side of the dark freeway as trucks blew by me at 80mph in the rain. The tension climbed with every step so that by the time I stood in front of the urinal I was thoroughly convinced that I was going to die while peeing. About 15 miles south of the truck stop I began to stop shaking.
The fear probably isn't rational, but it was still very real. I have too many friends who are gender non-conforming with very real scars to take these things lightly. As I shared my experience with my partner, her comment was to welcome me to her reality. A reality she lives everyday, every time she goes into a restroom outside our home. It dawns on me that even in the 'Merica of 2015, gender non-conforming might simply refer to the degree to which one is not a Real Man. Women my be more gender conforming that folks who are transgender or gay, but they're still not aligned with the default gender by which conformity is measured: The Great White Male.