Skip to main content

Bathroom blues


It seems whenever trans issues are discussed, inevitably bathrooms come into the discussion. However, seldom is this discussed based on the trans perspective... 

Bear in mind that some of what I describe is my experience, so your experiences may be different, but I feel that I am not unique in this regards. For cis people this not usually something to think about, but for us trans people it's a major consideration.

Prior to starting my transition, I just really hated using public bathrooms. For the most part I would avoid them as best I could, unless they were single person and, for those times where I couldn't, I would always go to a stall. My current office environment has, on each floor, gendered bathrooms as well as a gender neutral, single person facility. As a result, I always went to the gender neutral option unless it was busy.

So, why? Well, I just never felt comfortable in the men's washroom, ever. I felt really out of place and it made me very uncomfortable, which often led to me not being able to go unless the space emptied, even when I was in a stall. People coming in, after I started, would also sometimes cause me stop. It's odd to say, I suppose, but the experience was always very anxiety inducing.

I honestly don't know how common my experience pre-transition is, but I think my post-transition worry is very common. For trans people, using the restroom aligned to your gender identity is scary for a different reason: many trans people have been confronted, threatened, or even assaulted in public restrooms. It makes each visit a cause for concern and fear. 

Different governments try, from time to time, to enact bills that force trans people to use the facilities based on assigned birth gender. However, that's not even a remotely safe option, especially for trans women and often negatively impacts gender non-conforming cis women. There is no chance I would enter a men's restroom voluntarily today as that is an elevated level of risk that is not worth it to me. 

This is why when we talk about laws like these, trans people know that they are aimed at basically taking trans people out of the public space. Much like in years past when there were no women's washrooms resulting in women being homebound, having no effective place to go takes away our freedom to move about quite a bit and potentially leads to health issues later in life.

Thus, in many ways, for trans people, the public restroom situation is one of constantly being stuck between Scylla and Charybdis when all we really want to do is pee.

Comments