I haven’t really written about public bathroom dilemmas before but I know a lot of folks have so I’m feeling a little like this is a worn out subject but, for me, it’s a new saga in my on-going transformation. So I’m going to take a swing at this thing and open up that old can of worms once again. In a nutshell, I’m in a quandary about which restroom to use these days. It’s been going on for a while now but seems to be getting tougher as I start appearing more male to more people. I’ve started being read as male more and more lately out in public by strangers. At first this kind of freaked me out. Why, I’m not sure. Isn’t that the point of taking T and changing my name and wanting chest surgery? Yes, I think so, for me it is anyway. What I realized was that it wasn’t that being seen as male upset me as much as I worried that it would happen when I was out with people who didn’t know I was trans or weren’t aware of my transition. I worried that it would happen with Candace around and it would upset her. But the other side effect of being seen as male is what bathroom do I use if I’ve been male ID’ed at a restaurant or gas station? You know, the places where we mostly use public restrooms? If a waiter called me sir and I didn’t correct them (because would I really be correcting them by saying, no it’s ma’am? Not really.) and then they saw me go into the ladies room would that cause an incident that I would rather avoid? This created a dilemma for me. It’s kind of interesting though that when I’m out with Candace for dinner we tend to be pegged as two women but when I go out by myself I get pegged as a guy. Or, if I’m out with another male we get pegged as two dudes. This tells me that I’m in that place where I can be seen either way depending on the situation and maybe what I’m wearing a little bit. I don’t really know what the deciding factor is exactly for the stranger to decide what gender they see. My attitude right now is to let them see what they see and not correct it unless I have to for some reason. So far that hasn’t come up.
Over Christmas we did a lot of driving. I’m guessing that we spent about 20-24 hours in the car going between various relative’s houses to visit for a couple of days at each one. That’s a lot of public bathroom stops. And we traveled with our dog so we had to go into the bathroom individually while the other one walked the dog to give her a little exercise. I feel pretty comfortable most of the time going into the women’s room with Candace. She’s my security blanket in there. But without her with me, every time I went into the women’s room I felt very insecure and unsure. I basically tried to get in and out of there as quickly as possible and without interacting with anyone. I only encountered one family restroom at a rest stop and I made use of it. We went to a mall with Candace’s mom and aunt on our trip and they all wanted to go to the restroom. Once we discovered that they were single toilets I used the men’s room to hasten things along. It was no big deal and no one made a thing of it. On our trip, with the exception of one older woman who came in as I was leaving and quickly came to a screeching halt as she saw me but said nothing I didn’t have any issues in the women’s rooms. I just nodded at her and told her to come on in. I made sure to carry my ID in with me in case there was a problem. Thankfully there wasn’t a need.
My new therapist seemed shocked when I told her I still use the women’s room. Her response, in turn, shocked me and made me wonder if it might be time to be brave and use the men’s rooms. She told me that she sees me as male and can’t imagine that I was ever a girl and that’s kind of cool but it’s also negating the fact that I was. I guess there’s no way to make some of us happy huh? I want to say I didn’t take offense to her comment but I did a little bit. I assured her that I was once a girl and not an unattractive one at that. Maybe I need to figure out why this is important to me.
Right now I really feel gender-less. I’m no longer female and I don’t feel male. I don’t like it. I have deep respect for people who are comfortable being gender neutral or agender or butch or whatever label you use for yourself. For me it is more uncomfortable than being seen as female all the time. I honestly don’t know how those folks deal with the constant confusion from the outside world. I tip my hat to my gender neutral friends. I guess if I truly saw my self as agender or neutral I would learn to deal with it some way.
A friend shared an interesting video of Ian Harvie talking about how he ID’s and that kind of opened my eyes a bit to other options. He sees words like female and male to be science terms and not having anything to do with his gender. So he has never changed his driver’s license or birth certificate to reflect his manly outward appearance. He still identifies as a dyke. But he’s also a trans man and to the outside world he’s just “man”. It’s an interesting position to take and I felt a lot better hearing how men’s bathrooms still make him really nervous. In general, hearing him talk about not really feeling male and all that made me feel better. It’s a fun video so I encourage you to check it out.
Where does this leave me? I’m not sure. I still cling to using the women’s room vs the men’s room. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable but I also have the right to feel comfortable. The men’s room scares me at this point. I would use it if push came to shove and I will certainly use it when I feel the time has come to make the switch, but honestly, I’m dreading it. I’m worried there won’t be stalls or they won’t have doors or they will be occupied and I’ll have to wait and not know how to do that appropriately. It seems there are more rules in the men’s room than there are in the women’s and I don’t know the rules. What if I break a rule and some dude freaks out? I just want to pee, really. I’m not interested in anything else. I hear that guys don’t pay any attention to you in there. I sure hope that’s true.
I guess the bottom line is I’ll know when it’s time to switch restrooms. Right now I still feel I have a right to use the Women’s Room but those days are numbered. Maybe after I have chest surgery I will switch and maybe that’s part of why I am dragging my feet about having surgery. I don’t love my boobs but they are probably my last visual cue of being female that I own at this point and I’m reluctant to let them go. That’s a topic for another post. Now, all this talk about bathrooms reminds me that after two cups of coffee I really need to pee.