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Navigating Van Life as a Queer Couple

As we brought up earlier, Gene identifies as trans non-binary, with the pronouns of they/them. As a gender non-conforming person in the world, let alone living in a van, navigating public bathrooms and showers is a constant struggle. Many times the only options we have when we are out of the van are very obviously labeled Male or Female. When you are forced to choose one, neither being the gender you identify with, the glances of others in those facilities can be extremely triggering, and something we try to avoid as much as possible. Too often we hear about cases of microaggressions and hate crimes occurring in these sorts of public facilities, which is why it was a must-have to incorporate our own toilet and shower in our van build. While adding these accommodations in a 50 square foot van was both tricky and costly, it saves Gene from relying on places where they don’t feel that same safety of home. 

A lot of nomads we have met on the road, us included initially, love using places such as Planet Fitness to get in their showers while living nomadically. This is a popular resource due to their locations around the country, and the cheap ticket cost of getting unlimited access to all of them. On that same note, in all 50 states in the country, not a single one has a gender-neutral locker room option. On almost every visit we have made to this franchise, we are often greeted at the door where Gene is guided to the men’s locker room, and Shay is pointed towards the womens. As country-wide gyms continue to grow as great resources for nomads to get a cheap shower anywhere, articles of transgender hate have also spread across the internet.

A few years ago a transgender woman was at the crossfires of those aggressions, when another woman using the facilities who was angered and filed a lawsuit against PF for allowing its members to use whichever lockerroom that they identified with. Hearing cases such as this has made us re-evaluate using these resources, and we have decided to purchase a solar shower that we can easily use outside of our van. That doesn’t come without its own set of hardships though, as it can’t be used when we are in busy cities or towns, or when there is inclement weather. We are still looking for better resources for queer people to find showers on the road, and would love to hear from any of you on some ideas!

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