Early in March, I took advantage of an open invitation from friends who lived in Albuquerque to come visit. I had come out to them back around Thanksgiving, some of the first people I had talked to. After I separated from my wife, I decided why not treat myself to a vacation and take them up on their offer.

I decided that this was an opportunity for a dry run living full time as a woman. I would be staying with allies in a new town with no immediate responsibilities except for myself. I wanted to see if I had enough outfits to live in over six days, if I could manage to get up in time to get makeup time, and if I was up to being anywhere as a woman, even someplace I was unfamiliar with.

My biggest fear was the TSA screening. I’ve been told by many other girls and read several articles online that this wouldn’t be a problem. But I had some nagging doubt in my mind, not that there would be a problem with me being transgender, but something I didn’t account for that would be flagged and cause a problem.

I arrived early to make sure I had enough time to get through the TSA screening with some extra time tacked on. Not only did I have to worry about the transgender issue, but due to a shooting accident and back surgery when I was a teenager, I have a lot of metal in by body.

To my surprise, everything went smoothly. No problems at checkin, and no problems at the TSA screening. I was scanned, but that’s fairly common for me because of the bullet shrapnel in my chest. I was able to board the airplane with no problems.

Well, almost. I didn’t realize that my biggest concern should have been boarding the plane. I had basic economy tickets, so I boarded last. This gave me the opportunity to walk through the narrow aisle, exposed and vulnerable with everyone who has already been seated given the opportunity to stare at me. Of course, I got some extra long stares from certain people. I took some advice I received and kept smiling.

Except for the layover in Dallas, the flights went fine. I felt the people in the airport at DFW were a bit rude. Extra staring, that sort of thing. I’m sure I made it worse by becoming more self conscious, which creates a negative feedback loop.

The stay in Albuquerque was wonderful. My hosts were warm and welcoming. The people in the city of Albuquerque were very accepting, I felt very comfortable. We went to several restaurants in the city and visited several tourist spots and I felt welcomed everywhere. We took the train to Santa Fe for a day and it was even better there. I was able to find several pieces of turquoise jewelry. I made some deals with some of the native American vendors and spent some time talking with them. I definitely want to go back. I may even move there. My only complaint is that it was a bit thin on LGBTQIA+ night life, but it may be time for me to move on to more traditional places anyhow.

The flight back had a couple interesting events. At the Albuquerque airport I was searched at the TSA screening. I was worried about how it would handled. However, I was assigned to a female agent who treated me like a woman.

The Dallas layover was fun again. There was a man who apparently clocked me, and decided to stare and point me out to his son. I also felt some negativity from the other women in the bathroom, but I think I may have misread that situation. There was a stall with a loose door and some of the women were helping to hold it closed, and at first I assumed because of me. That was unfair of me to make that assumption.

I learned several things from the trip:

  1. TSA agents are professionals and transgender friendly. I was treated very well and have no complaints.
  2. I overpacked. Next time, I’m packing less outfits that I can cross match.
  3. Taking a bag is fantastic. It’s so much easier having a purse when flying.
  4. Keep smiling. I don’t want to let myself get into a negative feedback loop.
  5. New Mexico is awesome.
  6. I’m ready to be myself full time.

Photo by Jacob Stone on Unsplash