Using public restrooms is the most common thing in the world. You simply go in, do what is needed, wash your hands and walk out with a feeling of relief. For me, it’s something else. I know many people have the same issues I have. Some of you will read this and think: “Yeah, that’s exactly what public restrooms do to me!”, while other people might have their eyes opened to a whole new world. Well, here it is!
Knowing that I will be in the need to use a public restroom, is usually enough to get me trembling like a leaf in the autumn breeze. Over the years they have brought me in so many unpleasant situations that I created a certain repulsion for them. Where I live, public restrooms are equipped with a massive pictogram defining the select group of people that are allowed to use the facilities. There’s a bathroom for people wearing long hair and a skirt, called women. The other one is for bearded people wearing trousers. Between choices are not available. I tend to choose the pictogram I got assigned by birth and that matches my actual body when you would see it naked. Actually, I couldn’t care less about where I pee. As long as there is a door that can be shut and some sort of toilet-like attribute, I’m happy to be able to release whatever I was holding up. It’s always the other people giving me a hard time.
Mostly guarded by narrow sighted ladies and usually filled with speedy eyed mademoiselles, public bathrooms scare the crap out of me. They even give me nightmares and I actually prepare before I go in. I take some time to decide which position best shows my gender, considering my outfit. I try to match the pictogram as closely as possible. All my efforts to waste, they see right through me. The bathroom guardians greet me like anybody else. After paying the requested money with a gentle smile, I walk past her and choose my destiny. I can hear her breathing getting heavier while taking my turn. She actually grasps for air, unintentionally shrieks when shoving her seat backward and starts panicking. The lady guard hastily picks up her glasses from the table and starts a pursuit. She has a mission to save innocent ladies in the ladies room, unaware of the tsunami of torment heading their way. “Sir! Sir! … Sir!” She keeps shouting it since I’m not responding.
We live and thrive in a world that has grown accustomed to the cliché we have been offered. Our system doesn’t know anything else besides dividing people into different corners. Gender is a question in every questionnaire and on every document you have to fill out in your life. Obviously, it is extremely important for … everything. Gender isn’t the only place where you could get discriminated, but it is the one I’ll be talking about. Some folks just don’t fit into these boxes. A girl might feel more like a boy, even if she has all the parts that are recognized in a girl. The same thing goes up for boys who feel more like a girl. Maybe someone even can’t make up its mind, because today isn’t the same day as tomorrow. We all know each day can be different.
Our society is not ready yet for people who don’t fit into the pictogram boxes. I’ve seen many ladies freak out when they discover me, washing my hands, in the ladies room. Even if I was a guy, what is so frightening about someone who is washing his hands or using a toilet. Is this a good reason to run off like a toddler that just discovered that the leg he clung on was not his mother’s? Women constantly use the men’s room when the line is getting too long.
At home vs worldwide
There’s not much difference between public restrooms in Belgium, Guatemala, Poland or China. The same confusion happens everywhere. Although I heard countries like Thailand or the Philippines might be more open minded. That’s a solid reason to travel to one of those destinations in the future so I can you all about it!
How I could react…
A final thought on this matter… is also a question for everyone out there. I have to admit that even with all my years of experience, I still respond horribly to these situations. The circumstances are similar each time. I get accused and treated like an intruder. But my personal state of mind is different each day. I’ve done the most stupid things that involve grabbing my breasts and push them up for better visibility. Sometimes I get angry or lose my patience. Of course, it makes me feel worse afterward. No matter what I do, I always feel miserable and stupid for putting myself out there in such manner. If anyone knows a good way to deal with it, you have to let me know. I need it!
How you can help!
Refuge Restrooms is a web application that helps people find safe restrooms. These are public restrooms that are safe and accessible to transgender and gender-nonconforming people. People can submit safe restrooms to help grow this database. Currently, most entries are for the US, but if you know a safe place, just add it and help out a lot of people! You can also download their app in the Android PlayStore and the App Store. SO download it and start adding restrooms! 🙂
Let people know
Put up a sign showing that your restroom or the restrooms in your building are gender-neutral. If you’re a business owner and your restrooms are gender-neutral, download the sign to put on your doors to let people know they are welcome. You can also add your restroom to the Refuge Restroom database to show your support and make a lot of new friend in the process!
Share your thoughts
Share your thoughts in the comment section below. If you know about other projects that are working on this subject, we would love to know all about them!