The Restroom

A highly charged topic. It is a standard question for every single training for someone going full time. Invariably there will be people who think the individual isn’t a woman (mtf) or a man (ftm) but some kind of predator or psycho. As if we have nothing else to do with our time at work but to hang out in bathrooms to make coworkers uncomfortable.

Then there’s the public discourse. You take the above strange perceptions and add lies an innuendo in an attempt to prevent trans people from using the appropriate bathrooms for their gender. One bathroom bill (bills often trying to make it a crime, c.f. http://college.usatoday.com/2015/03/20/controversial-bathroom-bill-leaves-florida-transgender-students-allies-concerned/, to use the appropriate bathroom). Never mind that a transwoman in a public restroom risks assault, battery and sexual attack, and a transman will create exactly the kind of uproar in a ladies room that these folks want to avoid.

There are substantial laws with very substantial penalties for committing sexual assault, and for very good reason. It is hard to believe that a sexual predator (a real one) would be slowed down by the threat of a short jail term or fine in committing a felony that could land them in prison for many, many years. On the other hand, threatening innocent people who just want to use the bathroom with arrest and prosecution, very possibly preventing them from being gainfully employed seems like the evil plot from the sequel to Les Miserables.

And so a story. A life has many firsts, and mine is no different. My first time in a public ladies room was in April of 2013. I had been out for a good few hours with a friend for a girl’s day. She had brought me to a spa where we both had makeovers, we had lunch in a decorous restaurant, ran an errand and went over to the mall. At last nature called.

She went with me to the restroom. It was in a major department store. The impression I had was that there were about 300 stalls, but there probably were about 10. I was incredibly nervous but nobody we passed said a word and I had the good common sense to say nothing. We did our business and were on our way.

The first of what is now a very pedestrian activity. I would now be incredibly nervous walking into a public men’s room. I would doubtless face some real threats.

Here are a few observations:

  • For the men – your significant other is right, the situation with men’s versus ladies room is entirely out of whack. It takes us longer to use the bathroom since we don’t have an appendage to move through a convenient trouser opening. They don’t make up for this by adding extra stalls. BTW – I never, ever understood why, in men’s rooms when I still frequented them, urine didn’t all land in the urinal. It’s a huge target and you’re standing six inches away – just sayin.
  • For the women – What’s this paranoia about toilet seats? I’m tired of wiping down every single public restroom toilet seat because some sister had to hover her ass above the seat to pee and sprayed over it. There is nothing worse than sitting in someone else’s pee (ok, there is, but fortunately I haven’t encountered it)
  • For Los Angeles Airport – You serve how many people a day and about half are women. Three toilet stalls to serve baggage claim? Really? I expect lines in busy places, but honestly, LAX is the only airport that’s quite so out of adjustment.

A few pieces of advice to other trans people on using facilities they aren’t used to. Go in, use them, wash up, leave. Try to be relaxed. If you’re going into a woman’s room and you don’t wash your hands someone is going to think you’re pretty strange. If you’re using a urinal in a men’s room (I’m not sure how practical this is for transmen) keep your eyes straight forward and don’t talk. Men do not talk in that circumstance. I’ve never understood why they don’t always separate urinals, but they don’t. One thing I can ignore for the rest of my life.

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