December 18, 2007

Vegas, It’s All Good, Even if Everyone Thinks I’m a Guy

Posted in food, Identification, transgender, Vegas at 1:06 pm by Michael

Getting to Vegas was amazingly uneventful. The security line I had a bit of a question on initially – how would TSA react to my new ID? Megan Jenna, but “M”? The TSA woman took a look at my ID, a look at me, and said “Ok, let me see here….”, and then stamped our boarding passes, and off we went. Now, I fully believe that part of the reason that this was easy was because I was traveling w/Anh and Samwich, but still – I was not given a hard time at all.

Our flight on Alaska left the gate on time, was early getting down here, and was just a breeze. There was even an in-flight, over the PA marriage proposal (she said yes). That was a first for both of us. We sat next to a player from the Central Washington University basketball team, who was studying Fashion Merchandising, and he talked about what he knew about playing basketball in Europe (interesting!).

The cab line in Vegas was as empty as I’ve ever seen it – cabs waiting for people! I honestly have never seen this before, and we are down here 6+ times a year. This time right before/right after Christmas (but up to the 30th) is very quiet.

We checked in to the Venetian – no line, no problem. (TIP: They have recently redone a significant number of their rooms – the new rooms are much better (upgraded linens, flatscreens, etc) – just ask for a remodeled room – same price, different floors). We did reserve the room in Anh’s name, because I don’t yet have credit cards that match my license yet (after the first of the year).

After checking in, we went shopping/browsing for a while (mostly for Anh!). The shopping wasn’t that interesting, but wow, interesting with how people would react to me. At virtually every opportunity, I got “Sir’ed”. A lot. Now, I wasn’t wearing a poofy coat or anything. I was wearing jeans, a top, and a somewhat tight overshirt. Unless there was a gynecomastia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gynecomastia ) convention in town, well, there was something else going on.

The only time that was even close to shitty (and maybe I need to count this in the “Crappy Look Counter”) was when we walked into a clothing store – Anh in front, carrying the baby, me right behind. The saleswoman (mid 40’s) says to me, with some stridency: “Men’s clothes are over there.” I say: “Interesting, I don’t need any though – thanks!”

This morning, I went down to get Samwich some breakfast, and again – t-shirt, sweater (somewhat tight), and fleece pants. I got sir’ed by the breakfast place lady. Then, on the elevator back up, a Venetian security guard got on (female, mid 40’s), and she remarked how cute Samwich is (he was in the stroller), then as I was getting off, I got the hearty: “Have a good day Sir!”.

Allright… I know I haven’t made this easy. My stache is dark. I hate it. I don’t wear makeup. I have very little jewelry on (only my wedding band and a diamond all-over band that Anh gave me in SFO – sweet). My clothes don’t exactly scream “Female”.

I have two thoughts on this, other than I have a long way to go till actually passing easily.

I saw a documentary a few years ago showing how innately people identify folks as male or female. They did an experiment where they used the “lighted dots” method – basically put “dots” on people on their nose, and then at the major joints – shoulder, elbow, wrist, hips, knees, ankles. Then, they asked people to walk and do other activities. They then videotaped it, then image processed the people out, and ended up with box/stick figures. They then asked people to ID the stick figure as male or female. The hit rate was > 95%. Wow.

Secondly, Anh and I were talking about how the default gender for people may be “male”. Just in written terms, when most people write and are referring to an unknown person, they refer to he/him/his. It seems noticeable when you read she/her/hers. So, we have this theory that for people to see you as female, you need to prove it on all visual cues. So for me, one big thing – my stache, and a bunch of little things – posture, makeup etc, make me “male” every time. Having one big “pro-female” factor – cleavage – not enough to overcome. In addition, the Dr. O surgery really does “work” – my forehead, hairline, lack of Adam’s apple, not to mention a much softer jawline… all softer and more feminine. However, this isn’t “enough” to overcome the smaller, but more important stuff mentioned above.

One other side comment – my voice. I don’t have the deepest voice, but it’s clearly male. I have intentionally not done anything to change this. It seems too personal to change. I know, my face, and chest, not personal? Hard to explain, but I don’t want to change it.

Anyway, is it frustrating? Sure it is. Am I upset, no, not really. Do I wish that I wouldn’t get immediately read? Of course I do. The words from another trans-woman at Microsoft’s words ring in my ears – I asked “What was the hardest thing in the first year for you?” Answer – rapidly: “Hair removal. I just couldn’t get rid of the little buggers fast enough!”

Well mustache and lower lip hairs – your day with destiny is next Friday.

Anyway, last night Anh and I went to L’Atelier du Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand for dinner. I won’t try to do a restaurant review here, but it’s amazing. This is probably our fifth time, and its always amazing. You sit at the counter, around the working kitchen, watch the chefs work (quietly, but in French). The tasting portions are perfect. Try everything – especially the Langoustine Fritters, and the Potato Pureee du Robuchon. For a more full review, check out what Hillel at Tastingmenu.com has to say:

http://www.tastingmenu.com/archive/2006/07-july/20060718.htm

After that, we gambled (lost – surprise! Odds and Math work!), then went to bed.

One other note, we are huge fans of “Noodle Asia” at the Venetian (right next to the sports book). We had lunch there today (as we do at least once or twice on every Vegas trip). It’s not super expensive, but the food is very well done. Great stuff there: Potstickers, Black Pepper Udon, Night Market Fried Rice, BBQ Plate (small or large)… again, try it all! We have found no better Chinese food in Vegas – at any price (and we’ve tried every one that we can find…).

Yes, I still love Vegas, even if everyone thinks I’m a guy.

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