An advantage of having passed some milestones is having also reached a point where I can take a different attitude about talking about using bathrooms. A little more informative, a little less paranoid. I obviously don’t need to instruct other women on using the ladies room, so I’m clearly aiming this at my fellow MtF travelers who are, perhaps for the first time, just ready to take this adventure.
Personally I would hold off until you’re reasonably confident in your appearance. Regardless of laws, positive or negative, this has become a hot button topic recently. Hopefully it will die down. That the scuffles have often involved cis-women is both incredibly tragic and indelibly ironic at the same time.
Women’s rooms are just like the men’s rooms with few differences. More stalls, no urinals. There’s usually a vending machine, sometimes just for tampons and pads, sometimes for those and other products. Women’s rooms get messy and dirty, but I think the pattern is a little different. You won’t, of course, get the spray back from the urinals and the general I don’t care stuff from the guys, but you end up with tp all over the floor and clogged toilets. It’s a toss up really.
Your aim is to remain as relaxed and calm as possible through this entire process. People read tense pretty well. Generally people aren’t tense waiting to use a restroom. Try to breath slowly and if you find yourself tensing, focus on your breath and count time in and out. It will quiet your mine. Focusing on images of somewhere else can be helpful as well. Imagery of you leaving the bathroom having succeeded can also set the right mental frame of mind.
If the bathroom is busy, as it will be (not might be) at an event like a play, or baseball game, or an airport, you will find a line. Keep a polite smile and wait your turn. Unless you feel really good about your voice I’d probably avoid saying much and not initiating conversation.
Now here’s the thing. In a public restroom that isn’t used too much it should be pretty clean and the chances are all the toilets are clear and the floors aren’t bad. So if you haven’t been standing on line you’re probably fine just walking up to the first stall that isn’t shut and taking it.
If the place is busy, look in the stall. The toilets in a ladies room see all the traffic unlike a men’s room where all the #1 traffic can go to the urinals. Nor do the womens bathrooms get many more stalls then the men’s. Perhaps a couple, but women need the bathroom much more then men for several reasons including having generally smaller bladders.
Therefore, look in the stall if the place is busy and make sure it is fit for use. Go into the stall and shut the door. You’ll want to do something with your purse. There are generally hooks and often swing down shelves. The best option is the shelf. You can get in your bag if you need to, e.g. if you need something like a panty liner (you might not need them now but times change you know) or a wipe of some kind.
The next best option is a hook with something over it. You have to worry, sad to say, about people stealing bags. The plates make that difficult. If there’s no shelf and no protected hook but there’s a hook on the wall of the stall that’s probably ok. If there is only a door hook you’ll have to decide how busy the bathroom is and whether you want to risk it.You can always keep it on your lap.
Check the seat. There may be small drops of water, sometimes the flush is enthusiastic. Less pleasant is that there might be urine because some people think toilet seats are dirty and hover so they don’t touch them. They probably think that because they leave them wet with their urine.
You know how to use a toilet. I asked your mother. She told me so.
The little box on the wall is to dispose of the sorts of things that women might need to dispose of and that you probably don’t. However, wipes would qualify and liners do too and there are other products you may end up using that would also go there. If you do need to toss something wrap it in toilet paper first. Nothing, absolutely nothing but toilet paper and those things you produced go down the toilet.
Hopefully you spent much less time than it took to read this to pull down your pants, up your skirt or dress and do your business.
Put yourself back in working order.
If you don’t want to be remarkable, wash your hands. I don’t often see women fussing with makeup (read: I have never seen a woman in a public restroom playing with makeup or hair) so you shouldn’t either. However, taking a second to check your face to brush something off, or use a wet towel is pretty normal.
Remember to smile, dry your hands and leave. It isn’t a nightclub.
OK, back on the public concourse? Nobody ready to tackle you? Good job you!