Cruising as Marian. I get a little worried each time I do so, as the political situation is much different now than when I first started cruising with Lili four and a half years ago. I wonder whether I will be hassled when I take the above cruise in the next few weeks.
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Our first cruise was a 7 day Princess cruise from New York to Nova Scotia and back. As much as I hated the idea of sailing out of Brooklyn, the price was right and so were the politics. Obama was just beginning his second term, and it was easy to find the TSA guidelines for transgender folk.
I can still remember the lady who checked us in making a comment on my nail polish. She was stunned to say the least. Later on, we reached Boston, and one lady made a comment seeing me on the bus and having what appeared to be a hot flash:
"You must be going through the change."
And I responded in my best female voice:
"Ma'am, you don't know how true that is!"
When we got back to New York, I presented my ID to the customs agent and he started looking back and forth between me and my male ID. Eventually I said in a baritone voice:
"Yes, that's me!"
And he responded with a wink and a smile:
"Get out of here."
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Two years later, we finally got the chance to take another cruise. This time, it was a 10 day NCL cruise which stopped in San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Tortola. By this time, my feminine presentation had improved enough that I didn't worry much about travel in touristy areas. But there was no way that I'd be going to places where I would be at risk from locals who think that transgender people are abominations.
This was the first cruise where I had a swimsuit and was willing to go into a swimming pool. But I realized that after this cruise, that I would need a mastectomy swimsuit with pockets in which I could place breast forms for swimming. And it was the first time that Lili mentioned to me that a lady behind us was openly commenting that she thought I was a guy. Lili gave this woman the "evil eye", and the woman shut up. If I had heard her comment, I might have suggested that we have a threesome and all of us could have some fun. That would have taken the wind out of her sails.
Unfortunately, I had one awkward incident when we returned to New York. I was singled out for special processing, in part because my feminine presentation did not agree with my masculine ID. And yet, I got through customs quicker than Lili did - even with an excess of luggage.
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Move the calendar ahead another two years. Both Lili and I had an itch to take another cruise, and we sailed on the last NCL 7 day cruise to Canada for the season. Lili had a craving for some Canadian tea, and this kept her busy in the two Canadian ports we visited. Luckily, I had no interest in another day trip to Peggy's Cove for picture taking. It's a beautiful place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.
I was a little apprehensive about this trip, as the political situation had started to change in this country. Trump was in office, and his administration had already started to roll back protections for GLBT people. But I found out later that I had nothing to worry about on this cruise. In fact, this was also the first chance I had to wear my new swimsuit on a cruise. And I had the breast forms to give me the illusion of having breasts. By now, I developed enough confidence in my presentation that I could go anywhere I wanted without worrying - and it showed.
When we landed in Halifax, Lili started looking for King Cole Tea. It's a flavorful blend, and only found in Canada. Lili was unable to find 5 large boxes to pack in her luggage and bring back for her own consumption. As I've said before, when Lili gets a bug in her craw, she won't give up until she succeeds in her quest. But she failed in Halifax. So she was hell bent to find this tea in St. John when we docked there, and eventually took a cab to a Canadian supermarket to buy this tea. To me, bringing back gifts for people is a nice thing, but not something wasting a day in which one could go sight seeing. So we parted for the day, and I went to the city's Police Museum - and had a wonderful conversation with a widowed lady there.
Our next stop was in Portland Maine. And this is where we encountered something we hadn't encountered before. On previous cruises, we touched no US soil before landing in New York. So both Customs and Immigration controls were performed at the same time. On this cruise, everyone had to go to the lounge where US Immigration inspected our passports before allowing us to get on with our day. This ended up being a blessing for me, as the agents in New York would have no excuse to prevent me from reentering when we returned to New York.
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My next cruise with Lili will be coming up soon, and we will be going back to the Caribbean. The political climate has gotten even more nasty, but I'm not going to worry about presenting my masculine ID while presenting as female. My voice is much more feminine sounding than it was four and a half years ago, and I don't care much about what people say while I'm on the cruise ship. I'll still be very careful when disembarking the ship in tropical ports, as the islanders tend to be very conservative with a low regard for transgenders (especially on islands of British and Spanish culture).
I don't expect any problems on this cruise, or I wouldn't bother taking it. Each time I cruise, I find that people generally treat me very well - simply as if I were an obese woman. One woman put it best - fat people become invisible to many. And this seems to be true for the most part. Each time I cruise, I find myself wishing more and more that I had all the appropriate feminine plumbing. I've gotten tired of "tucking" and I want breasts of my own to fill out my swimsuit. One of these days, I hope to be able to have my presentation, my legal identity, and my body in sync with each other. Until then, I deal with the risks of being openly transgender in this world.
Keep your fingers crossed....