So, I just got back from the most recent of a string of actual roadtrips. First, I went to pick up my sister in Missouri, a fun Marathon trip down and back in one day. Next, my wife and I drove to Colorado. The seventeen-hour-long trip brought us through five states, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado. My most recent trip was to Fargo North Dakota. I thought it was fun to drive through Northwestern Minnesota (this was my first trip to that area).
What I love about roadtrips is watching the geography change, from the ancient eroded mountains flanking Lake Superior to the Great Plains- scraped flat by glaciers. When we head west, I’m amazed at how the land slowly transforms and begins to wrinkle the farther west you go. In western Nebraska, the land is no longer a great flat expanse, hills dot the horizon. By the time you reach Wyoming, bluffs and buttes are beginning to rise out of the ground. Then, in the distance, it seems as if the clouds merged with the earth, soon those clouds turn a blue hue and you realize that you are seeing the Rocky Mountains.
While I do enjoy watching the landscape change around me, traveling through rural America scares me as it scares many other queer people. The ghost of Brandon Teena haunts small towns in Nebraska. Specters of Mathew Sheppard haunt the barbed wire fences as we drive through Wyoming. Angie Zapata in Colorado, Jason Gage in Iowa, Morgan Lewis in South Dakota, sadly the list goes on. The point is it is dangerous being a brown transperson driving through small town America. I wonder what they are staring at when I get out of the car is it my skin color, my dreadlocks, that I’m a six foot tall women, a transwomen, or just a stranger. I guess I’ll never know and most times I don’t really feel like sticking around to find out. In fact, it takes a lot of courage to get out of the car in the first place, and courage to leave the hotel room, courage to pay inside instead of at the pump.
While I know that these dangers are real and that I do have to watch my back, especially when I’m driving alone, I also know that many of my fears are misplaced. Most people are really more concerned with who the strange woman from Minnesota is more than what type of genitals I have. I found that the majority of people I encounter are true Midwesterners, very polite and if they don’t have anything nice to say, they say something nice anyway. I enjoy meeting these new people and hopefully giving them quite the story to tell when they get home.