Bathroom Dilemma

Someone wrote…

I don’t like to use men’s bathrooms because I’m afraid people will think I’m female. I don’t like to use women’s bathrooms because I’m afraid people will think I’m female.

What’s your experience?


And what are you thinking about gender right now?


Posted by on July 31st, 2011 at 08:00 am

Category: your voice 21 comments »

21 Responses to “Bathroom Dilemma”

  1. tigr

    Sounds oh so very familiar :S

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  2. Raven

    This. So true.
    That’s exactly one of my problems.

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  3. Kieran

    I avoid this problem all together but not using public restrooms.

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  4. Vanessa

    I have a similar experience, and I think I actually see where you’re coming from. We have gendered bathrooms at work. I’m out at work, but no one genders me correctly. When I need to use the bathroom, I have issues, because if I go into the women’s bathroom, I fear that someone will complain, and I’ll lose my job. However, every time I walk into the men’s room, I fear no one will take my female identity seriously.

    Gendered bathrooms are a huge problem for me, no matter where I am :(

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  5. Nick

    It gets easier, trust me. No matter what bathroom you use, you’ll reach a point where what strangers think of you no longer matters or at least no longer hurts.

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  6. Nate

    Yes,that is exactly it,which is why if I absolutely need to use the restroom,I look for the most deserted one in the area.

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  7. Fizz

    My problem is related but not quite the same … I use women’s restrooms out of habit, and because it’s easier (even at my most masculine presentation, I don’t think anyone sees me as male enough to freak out about me being in there). This makes me feel socially lazy–taking the path of least resistance instead of shaking up an institution that needs shaking. But I’m still a little afraid to switch.

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  8. Thomas

    regardless of which you chose to use, smile politely and make eye contact and people will assume your in the correct one. when your physical appearance is borderline, it’s all about your confidence.

    personally, I use gender neutral bathrooms whenever possible just because I like that the option is provided. when I’m at work the whole staff uses the wheelchair bathroom just to avoid customers.

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    Lane replied:

    I’m not sure how well that would work in the women’s bathroom, but I know that I’ve been repeatedly advised to not smile or make eye contact in the men’s room. It will either be seen as a sign of female identity or a sign that you’re a gay man cruising, either one of which can get you in trouble.

    While I agree with the overall message of “be confident,” I do want to emphasize that its not always that simple. While social skills and confidence can help someone protect themselves, that alone doesn’t guarantee that a trans or gender variant people won’t be misgendered and given funny looks, directed to another bathroom or even outright bullied. How things turn out can depend on where you are. People are unlikely to make a fuss in a public library, but in a high school bathroom where there are cliques and bullies, or in a hostile workplace, there are very real reasons to worry, even if the trans or gender variant person is being perfectly polite. Then there’s the fact that for some people who have had heard horror stories or already had bad experiences, true confidence is impossible until some positive experiences balance that out. There’s also people who are still learning to be confident period, and telling them to “just be confident” in a stressful situation is unlikely to be helpful advice. I do agree that confidence helps, but I’d advise against treating it as a magic pill.

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    Anonymous replied:

    This is a good post.

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  9. Fizz

    See, I’ve always heard that men in public restrooms aren’t supposed to smile or make eye contact or basically acknowledge each other at all. But from outside, I can’t tell whether that’s the Cosmo stereotype or the reality! Can I get a habitual men’s-restroom-user to weigh in on this?

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    Nick replied:

    In my experience, that is accurate. But the most significant, rather silly habit of men in there is to keep their eyes up high, above shoulder level. Staring lower in a bathroom is like staring lower when talking to a girl: it’s easily mistaken for junk/cleavage staring.

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  10. Ganymede

    From one transman’s perspective… If you go in the men’s loo, don’t stare at the floor when you walk in– but don’t smile, and, if you happen to make eye contact (which would/should not happen because you look in the direction of your trajectory [desired urinal or stall], not around checking out other dudes, a curt nod or a level scan across the other guy is best.

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  11. Meike

    So. Effing. True. I really hate this feeling, because while I may be used to being perceived as a woman (despite how I feel at being labelled as such), often when I really need this label (as a woman) I never get it, and end up getting weird looks or being escorted to the “correct” bathroom. I’ve started sporadically going into the men’s room, but it frustrates me that I have to gauge how well I’m “passing” on any given day just to pee. I try to avoid public restrooms at all costs.

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    tigr replied:

    You could just go anyway; sometimes you might get weird looks in the men’s as well, but usually they’d just assume there’s a queue for the women’s toilets…

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  12. Thomas

    I hate public washrooms for similar reasons. I use the women’s out of habit, and fear the men’s as I may not “pass” well enough. If I’m desperate to use a washroom in public I try to find ones that are the single washroom stand-alones, not the entire bank of stalls. Those ones I’ll use whichever is free, as I have the privacy to pee in peace.

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  13. anta

    While I identified as a transman, I always used the men’s room no matter what anyone thought because a) I was out at my university and b) I had been getting weird looks in the women’s room for many years before I ever questioned my gender identity.

    Now that I identify as androgynous, I don’t really know what to do. I opt for gender neutral bathrooms, but often there aren’t any. I was once told by a health care professional that I should not use the women’s room because I look and sound like a boy. This seemed completely unreasonable to me, since if I don’t identify as a man and don’t have “man parts”, how do I have this right to access men-only spaces?

    It’s like women are supposed to be delicate little flowers who must be protected from any discomfort by all means necessary, but you need not fuss about men, because if they have a problem with you, they’re going to let you know in their own way. Or something.

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    Anonymous replied:

    For me, it is easier to be a maybe woman in a mens room than to be a man (pervert predator) in a womens room.

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  14. Bear

    I’ve been beat up in both men’s washrooms and women’s washrooms, been physically escorted out of malls for “being a pervert” and “using the wrong bathroom”. I’ve been taken to mall security and had cops called on me. I just can’t seem to win. Even taking friends of the “correct gender” into the bathroom with me, I get beat up or escorted out, and nothing I or my friends say can make a difference.

    Can’t I just pee in peace? =(

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  15. Goddess

    I just don’t get the necessity of having gendered restrooms. It has always seemed SO unnecessary to me.

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  16. Brett Blatchley

    About six weeks ago, I used a men’s bathroom for the last time!

    Though I’m still not trying to pass as a woman (just myself), after several months of female hormones, I’m frequently being considered a woman anyway, and my self-expression is increasingly free (to be feminine), so I carry myself as a woman (well, I *am* a woman, just one with a touch of masculinity).

    …I thought, well, even if I’m not fully/officially transitioning, I’ve become VERY uncomfortable using men’s facilities…it might even be dangerous now. Then I thought: my presentation is feminine, even if I only consider myself a blend, I fit better using the women’s facilities. So, on a business trip, in a convenience store, right up front with a like to the men’s room, I proceeded right into the womens room as soon as it was unoccupied. I did this utterly believing that I belonged there, and I was observed by several men including the clerk. Shortly thereafter, I purchased a drink and the clerk “ma’m-ed” me! It surprised me because *I* had only just started hormones and while I’m very “in-between” I had no illusions about “passing” as a woman. It was very exhilarating, humbling, very *right* feeling! I *DIDN’T* have the confidence for this: I had to “fake it to make it!”

    …But, “make it,” I have…

    I’ve not used a men’s room since, and I’ve gradually worked myself up where I am likely to meet more and more women, and even speak with them at times!

    My doctor was ecstatic with this and she commented that it simply wouldn’t be safe for me to use men’s facilities at this point. She said this was perfectly reasonable because she saw me as easily passing for a woman (though she is aware that that I’m not going out of my way to do this).

    Last night, with utter ordinariness, I managed the mall’s most popular and crowded women’s loo at “prime time” with other women and girls without a second glance from anyone!

    Being un-self-conscious, smiling and kind seem to be keys to success: desensitization is a GOOD THING!

    I’ve spoken briefly with other women in the restroom and never had the slightest issue…I take my time too (not TOO much time), but I’ll wash, check/fix my hair/necklace, lip-gloss, whatever…many times, I’ll wipe down the counter or pickup trash too (might as well “earn my keep!”).

    ALSO!!! Have a backup plan: I’ve rehearsed a few words and their delivery if anyone confronts me in there with harshness: [with a gentle, edge-of-tears look and voice] “If I was a man, I would not be here…a *woman* drives this body, and *she* is doing the best she can with her birth-defect…I’m sorry that offends you…” and I will demurely excuse myself and wait for the next available stall!

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