This Land is Our Land—Trans, Cis, & More

Driving Across America, Without Apology


So, I made a spreadsheet of the gas and camping stops on our cross-country trip to Boston that I talked about in my last post. We’re driving Betty, a 1973 VW Camper whose fuel gauge doesn’t work. Betty has no on-board computer. She’s an air-cooled post-War-German feat of engineering, built for a time when we all drove 55 to stay alive. There are riding lawn mowers of recent vintage with more horsepower.

Pam, proudly showing off Betty.

This is not to denigrate Betty, who's a beast. Just not of the cheetah kind—by which I mean her top speed is 60 mph downhill with a stiff wind at her back. We’ve been over I-70 through the Rockies and Rabbit Ears Pass, kinda delighted (but also nervous) that, going up those not inconsiderable grades, our plodding presence forced the trucks, mountain goats, and chipmunks to take the passing lanes around us. This trip, the steepest inclines will be the Allegheny range in Pennsylvania at 900 to 1,500 feet. People, Pam and I live at 4,900 feet here in good old Loveland. While I anticipate we’ll occasionally ascend in first gear (which Betty totally dominates), it won’t be for the span of time that she had to in Ye Olde Rockies.


Five to ten decades ago, people made cross-country journeys in less reliable technology, with nothing more than a toothpick in the corner of their mouth. Betty was built for a trip such as this. Still, I wanna play it safe. Prepping to the gills is more a balm for my anxiety than a remedy for the regret and oh-shits! I’ll be feeling if we do break down. That’s why they call it an adventure.


But there’s another side to this trip, that I can’t prepare for.


I’m trans. Pam and I are lesbian. And we’re driving a vehicle that never fails to get heigh-hos, thumbs up, and occasional head shakes. Betty bears stickers like, “The Hippies Were Right,” and “Get on the Bus,” as if we didn’t already attract enough attention. That’s all well and good in Colorado, rated by many as the safest state in the Union for LGBTQIA+ folks. But until we hit Boston, we might as well scream, “Hey, y’all! We’re the groomer lib-tard pervs set on forcing critical race theory and trans contagion on 'Murika!”


You might point out that we could add to our pre-trip preparation a healthy application of a razor blade to the aforementioned hippie stickers and me swearing to not open my mouth at the truck stops.


That would be playing it safe.


I swore off safety when I transitioned nearly five years ago. Add to that a lifetime trying my best to be me and nonetheless attracting negative attention. I’m versed in just how little preparation and forethought afford when I walk into the jaws of the beast.


But this land we call America is not a beast. And we're not Hansel and Gretel. The United States has never been the sanctuary we've told ourselves it was. And that's okay. It's life. Among human beings. Truth is, I've been quite a beast to people in my years of faking it as a dude. Now that I live as my true self, I won't play that way anymore.


I'll meet people the way I hope they meet me—as friends and travelers on this road, this America, this planet. This life. I don't have all the answers. I don't mean for our stickers or VW to shove anything in anyone's face. Pam and I are living a dream. Thirty-five years ago, when we got married, we had dreams, none of which turned out the way this life has.


And we couldn't be happier for that. In the end, no amount of preparing resulted in the dream we got. We're taking it now with open hearts. And we mean to be open to the hearts we'll meet on the way to snuggling our new grandson.


This land is your land and this land is my land From California to the New York island From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters This land was made for you and me


As I went walking that ribbon of highway I saw above me that endless skyway Saw below me that golden valley This land was made for you and me


I roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts All around me a voice was sounding This land was made for you and me


When the sun come shining, then I was strolling And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting This land was made for you and me


This land is your land and this land is my land From California to the New York island From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters This land was made for you and me


When the sun come shining, then I was strolling And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling The voice come a-chanting and the fog was lifting This land was made for you and me

—Woody Guthrie


Nicco, here we come!


Love,


Bethany