my strange bathroom experience

today, while on a massive job-quest in the mall, i participated in a strange bathroom scene.  it did not involve eggplant, bondage, or cameras; i want to tell you about it anyway.

first, some background.  as a person of non-binary gender, i find public bathrooms to be pretty awkward.

sometimes, i get to choose between skirts and pants.  i love this because one of the bathrooms is clearly labeled with a symbol i immediately relate to: pants.  i may have rockin’ tits, but i’ve never worn a skirt— so i should use the “pants” bathroom, right?  i love pants!

other times, i get to choose between “women” and “men”.  i sooooooo do not love this.  i’m not a woman and i’m not a man, so what should i do?  should i occasionally bind my chest in public so i can use the men’s bathroom?  should i admit defeat and use the women’s bathroom because i have lovely, c-cup tits?  should i piss outside in the garden like a good kitty?

when i DO use the women’s bathroom, i feel as though i’ve admitted that my appearance renders me female.  i find it humiliating.  i keep my head down, my shoulders up, and i cringe quietly about my business.  i hate how the people who see me in there instantly believe that i belong in the women’s bathroom.  i hate knowing that they all assume i’m something i ain’t.

when i use the men’s bathroom, i don’t usually have any trouble as long as i keep to myself.  this is pretty bizarre, actually, because, as i mentioned before, i have unbound tits.  i also wear cat ears, 15.7 trillion colorful bracelets, and star stickers.  i suppose my men’s band shirts and punk jacket allow me to “pass” without close inspection.  that’s not to say that i’ve NEVER had trouble in the men’s bathroom— i have.  ohBOYohBOY, i have.  anyway, i lack the nerve to use the men’s bathroom very often at all.

on to today’s bathroom experience!

to start with, i have to piss.

then i have to choose between “men”, “women”, “handicapped” and “family”.  that’s not fair, people!  those labels are way too specific; they make me feel like non-binary people have been deliberately left out.  i’m sure it was an oversight, but i still feel a tad left out.

if my choices were pants, skirts, pants/skirts/wheelchair— that’d be cool because i could imagine that i might belong in the non-gendered bathroom.  but no, you have to go and label the bathrooms so clearly that i can’t pretend to belong in any of them.

there aren’t any families approaching, so i choose the family bathroom.  i go to the bathroom like any other human being.  i don’t do anything weird like masturbate or make a mess or take too long.  i just piss, flush, wash my hands— and then the door swings open.

i hadn’t locked the door; the latchable bathroom stall had lulled me into thinking that i didn’t really need to lock the door.  i mean, what if some kid had dumped juice on their hands and their desperate mother had wanted nothing more than to de-sticky the plump appendages of their juicy spawn?  i could shut the stall door behind me and still urinate in secrecy.  right?

so this young couple with two toddlers shove busily into the bathroom, all happy and tired about shopping.  then they notice me with my cat ears, spiky punk jacket, torn-up jeans, and obviously child-free state.  the parents are clearly not stoked to see a lone person hogging one of the two sinks in the family bathroom.  the mother gets this pinched, bitchy look on her mouth but she doesn’t say anything right away.

i attempt to wash and dry my hands with as much dignity and efficiency as i can muster.  the parents just stand there and look at me.

i keep drying my hands.  they keep looking at me.

forever.  seriously, it seems to take me forever to get most of the water off my hands.  i just want to get out— i sorta feel like i kinda have the right to be in this bathroom, but i feel like they’re squishing me with their eyes and i don’t wanna make a scene.

i’m done, anyway.  time for me to fuck off.  i open the door to leave, head still held high with enduring dignity—

“this bathroom is for FAMilies ONly.  Not just ANyone can use it.”  the woman emphasizes certain syllables in order to sound ever so slightly whiny and pushy.  she doesn’t even look at me when she says it— she just keeps washing her hands.

“well, i’m not male or female.  my gender is non-binary and i don’t belong in the women’s bathroom any more than i belong in here.”  my head is kinda swirly because, these days, i’m not used to confrontations, but my mouth actually seems to know what it’s doing.  “i’m not a woman, i’m not a man, i’m not handicapped, and i’m not a family.  i still have to choose a bathroom, though.  have a pretty splendid day, lady.”

i reopen the door and i stride through it, both shaken and proud—


the woman calls me a pervert as though under her breath, just loudly enough for me to hear.  as though being transgender is a perversion.  i can’t be bothered to continue the confrontation with this petty woman, so i leave.

i keep pretending to just be proud of standing up for myself without being rude, but i’m pretty quivery.  it’s been years since anyone has called me names.

sure, i used to have to defend myself all the time, but people tend to treat me with more kindness and respect than they used to.  i don’t know why, maybe i attract a different kind of person now, but most people i meet are pretty awesome.

this little and squeaky part of me starts wondering if the woman is right.  most people think i look pretty female, so maybe i should just use the women’s bathroom.  it would mean an end to bathroom confrontations.

plus, people with giant strollers shouldn’t have to use the cramped women’s or men’s bathrooms.  that’s what the family bathrooms are for; people with bulky strollers and rambunctious kids.

the other part of me thinks i should keep using non-gendered bathrooms whenever i can, as long as there aren’t families or handicapped people waiting to use them.  this part of me thinks that using the women’s bathroom when i don’t have to would be a humiliating defeat.  that family in the mall had to wait for less than a minute.  actually, the mother didn’t have to wait to wash her hands until i was leaving— there were two sinks.

???  i need opinions on this, people.  what do you think about all this?

i know i’m going to continue to use non-gendered bathrooms whenever i can.  i know i’m also going to have the occasional bathroom confrontation and i’m probably going to continue to experience doubt.  when i have to piss, i’m just going to pick a bathroom and piss.  when all the choices are wrong, what else can i do?

but if there were a bathroom with a rainbow on it, i’d use it every time!

7 responses to “my strange bathroom experience

  1. “when i DO use the women’s bathroom, i feel as though i’ve admitted that my appearance renders me female. i find it humiliating. ”
    I think you hit the spot there. regardless of what I am perceived as or I *think* I am perceived as, going into the women’s is like an admission of guilt, and going into the men’s makes me nervous as hell.

    I always use the gender-neutral, or ahem, non-gendered bathroom, when one is available, regardless if this is a family or handicapped bathroom. Some people have been discussing transness as like a disability/handicap in that not everywhere is accessible for us, and here is where I think it fits. If there is a non-gendered – accessible – option for me, I will take it.

    It was good that you replied to the family. I can never get my head straight enough to reply, but I have always thought what I would say, and the fact that you remained calm enough to speak coherently is commendable.

  2. glad to know that someone else knows what i’m talking about! whew! so i’m NOT just nuts. *smile*

    that’s a good point about transness being like a handicap in that some places are inaccessible to us. thinking of transness as a handicap for any other reason would obviously be weird— so i’ve never even considered it. but it’s totally true that some places have no room for us. even the census doesn’t allow for our existence; i added my own “other” gender box, but i think they’ll simply disregard my data.

    this is totally rad because i now feel that i sorta belong in the handicapped bathroom! yay!

    thanks for sharing, maddox! you’ve given me something to think about. plus, you’re my first comment EVER! so veryvery awesome.

  3. Well, the family (the lady in particular) needs to advance into the twenty-first century and stop living in their own world. And since she called you a pervert, you should’ve asked her for her b’day and told her to wait for a book that says “Genders for dummies: the only book that tells you more than the male and female gender in the word.”
    Well, whatever. She suxs. You’re the pretty kitty.

  4. yeah, sometimes it’s hard not to be rude to people when they call me names ‘n stuff. i suppose it would be a lot harder to refrain from shooting back snappy witticisms if snappy witticisms didn’t always occur to me, like, the next day. lol. i’m totally a delayed-reaction-awesome-retort superhero.

    i like to think of myself as a trans ambassador of sorts, though. like, those people in the bathroom had probably never knowingly encountered a non-binary trans person. they probably had NO idea what to think of me and they probably didn’t know what to say.

    i wouldn’t want somebody to hate trans people forever just because the first trans person they met was me— and i was rude to them.

    but, yeah, i totally wanted to hit that lady. i’m still stunned that i kept cool.

    thanks for commenting, kusurje! you = awesomes.

  5. Wow, that woman’s a bitch. Gender issues aside, I hate when people act like other people inconvenience them SO HARD, because their time is SO IMPORTANT. If she had to wait a split second, she should have just been able to wait patiently.

    Also, she obviously didn’t understand even when you explained– judging from her reaction, she probably thought you were born male and had a sex change, and men + kids = creeped out parents. It’s a result of hysteria about pedophilia, not transgenderism. Although I wasn’t there and I can’t say for sure, that’s what it seems like to me. Not that she had the right to pass judgment on you when she doesn’t know you, it might make you feel better about your bathroom choices, no?

    I love your blog by the way. I write about a lot of similar subjects, and all your stuff is so inspirational. ^.^

  6. thanks! your blog is totally, rad, too. and yeah, i think you’re spot on about the pedophilia hysteria.

  7. You described how it feels to have to choose between bathrooms so well. I wish I could be as brave as you are. I’m still too much of a nervous wreck to use the men’s restroom, and if that family turned on me, I probably would’ve cried to be perfectly honest.

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