The Big Bathroom Dilemma
By far one of the biggest struggles for both crossdressers and trans women is negotiating bathrooms. Bathrooms present a unique dilemma and can be one of the biggest headaches for those of us who do not conform to gender norms. For many, the nerves that surround the bathroom are the main deterrent that keeps the girl inside us from being able to head out for a night on the town. The gendered bathroom space forces us to ask a difficult question: do I enter the men’s or the women’s? When dressed up for a night in girl mode, the answer is not always easy.
Personally the nerves and anxiety I suffered in worrying if I would have access to a restroom could be downright crippling. I cannot count the number of times I turned down a chance to go out with friends because I didn’t know if it would be safe for me to use the bathroom. I too often spent a night at home instead of having fun out with friends because of this nervousness.
This post is not meant to scare you; rather I hope to make you feel safer and more confident when you are out and about. The bathroom can be a scary and dangerous place. Many crossdressers and trans women have suffered violence while using public restrooms. The key is to always watch out for your own safety first. The fact of the matter is that ANYWONE who is perceived as a girl is often seen as a target for violent predators. If you’re dressed like a woman – you need to start thinking like one. Always be aware of your surroundings. Be smart and be safe.
Here are my top five tips for how to make the bathroom trip safer and less nerve-wracking.
1. Attend LGBTQ Events
One of the earliest times I went out dressed up as a woman was to a local drag show. Drag shows usually take place in local gay bars and they usually provide a safe atmosphere for crossdressing, gender bending, and all manner of non-normative behavior. In these environments, you should have no problem using either bathroom. You should be free to pee in peace.
2. The Decision: Men’s Or Women’s
Unfortunately not every event is a LGBTQ safe space. Sometimes you will have to choose between the men’s and women’s rooms. My choice was usually based on my own personal safety. For the most part if I felt safe in the men’s room, I would use it (especially when I first starting going out in public). However, if I didn’t feel safe for whatever reason in the men’s room, I would use the women’s. If I was presenting as female and was dressed up wearing obviously female clothing (skirt or a dress) – the women’s restroom usually felt like the safest option. I was still nervous going into the women’s restroom – but at least I knew I would be more safe than using the men’s room while wearing a skirt.
2. Make Sure The Coast Is Clear
No matter if you choose to use to the men’s or the women’s restroom, you should always be cognizant of the situation. Be cautious and smart. As I mentioned before, you should always have your wits about you. If you see a big buff scary trucker enter the men’s room, it may not be the safest time to visit the men’s room. Likewise if you see a mother of two take her children into the bathroom – you might wait a few minutes. The best advice somebody told me was to try to use the restroom when it’s not in use. There is nothing worse than entering the women’s restroom as a crossdresser and then having to stand around waiting for an open stall making small talk –especially if you are not confident in your ability to pass. I always try to make sure there will be an open stall that I can quickly duck into before I enter the bathroom.
3. Buddy Up
This is one of the safest, easiest, and best routes – especially when you are first starting to go out while dressed up. Take a friend to the bathroom for you. They can provide support if you are nervous, but they also can help you make sure the coast is clear. A good friend can also be a valuable ally for you you: standing up for your right to use the restroom if somebody does try to confront you. Besides – lots of ladies go to the bathroom with a friend, so you wont be out of place.
4. Take A Deep Breath… And Go For It.
Take a deep breath, girl up, and just go in. At a certain level as with many aspects of this journey you sometimes have to “just do it.” You can only stand outside the door being nervous for so long. So just open the door, be confident, and walk in like you know what you’re doing. Girl, act like you belong.
5. Find A Gender-Neutral Restroom
This is by far my favorite tip. There’s more to the world than gendered restrooms. Many establishments have a unisex bathroom that is available. Not every place you go will have one, but gender-neutral restrooms are becoming more and more popular. Sometimes you have to look for them because they are not the most obvious choice. Often the unisex restroom doubles as a handicap accessible bathroom. In many sports stadiums, stores, and airports there are single stall “family restrooms” that can be used as a unisex option.
A really great resource (if you have a smart phone) is the iphone app TranSquat . The application is pretty cheap and is well worth the investment. Besides the money goes to a good cause – A transgender man trying to finance his top surgery. TranSquat operates off a user-generated database of gender-neutral restrooms. The more people who use it – the quicker the resource database will grow. Anytime I find a unisex restroom I add it to the database, hoping it will help somebody in need down the road. If you do not have an iphone, you can access an online database for free at Safe2Pee.org. You can use this to map out your night and find where safe and accessible restrooms will be located
Well those are my 5 best tips. What are yours? How do you negotiate the bathroom situation when you are out on the town? Also, Do you have any interesting stories that happened when you were dressed up and attempting to find or use a public bathroom?
Share your stories and tips in the comments below!
photo credit: denverjeffrey