To make it fully travel-ready, I outfitted it with inexpensive bins in which to store toiletries, clothing, and coffee supplies. I installed a Bluetooth main unit in the basement and a foam mattress topper to put on the bed (which the Super Custom has, thanks to its folding and swivel rows of rear seats that lie flat and level). Some personal effects – Hot Wheels cars in the cabin, a pink floral comforter, a miniature makeshift makeup stand – gave her a personal feel.
The finishing touches included an inverter to charge my laptop, a mosquito net for the massive sunroof, and a battery-powered fan for those hot nights. It was the least amount of work I have ever had to do to make a living space habitable for me; this thing seems meant to be experienced. The best part about all this transformation is that I can finally say that I own my home. The American dream is dead for my generation Unless you don’t mind calling a right-hand drive Toyota your abode, and honestly, I’ll take it.
It also comes into my life in the midst of a troubled atmosphere that seems to require a solid home. In addition to the aforementioned breakup, uneasiness re-entering mainstream society, and plans to drive into the vast unknown of the American West solo, the world has locked itself in with me as a guy and it’s reopening with me in as a woman.
It is a difficult experience under any circumstance, but the climate is currently tense for trans people. Thirty-three states currently have legislation on the table to revoke our rights in one form or another; it looks like we are the problem of the 2020s now that same-sex marriage has finally turned out to be a losing battle for conservatives. I’m extremely lucky to have supportive friends to see and talk to and to have the platform for my work that I do, but it’s hard to hope to come out of the chrysalis of the transition when about halfway through of the country find your very existence reprehensible.
And so with this tension I bought the van. It was love at first sight and I needed to give myself the motivation to move forward. It would have been so easy to have written the first part of this story, attributed it to a silly dream, and moved into a studio for another time. Looking at the van down the aisle reminds me at 3,000 pounds that even though it is a silly dream, now is the time I’m chasing it.
That engine – the 3.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged 1KZTE diesel – is shared with the Land Cruiser Prado and Hilux, vehicles that have been tested under the most extreme conditions on Earth in actual warfare. I don’t plan on going through active conflict zones, but given the state of the country, it’s good to know he would probably do well. I didn’t expect the clicking of the engine under my seat to give me confidence. The van and its turbo-diesel heart don’t change the political climate I’ve been in, but they inspire me with the resilience to know that even when I’m alone, I can count on it.