One of the most challenging things I’ve faced since transitioning is deciding what washroom to use when I go to work, public events, or a public facility. It’s something most people don’t even think about.
It causes a lot of anxiety, especially at the beginning of my journey! Many transgender people face the same fears when using public washrooms. I strongly believe that more places need to install unisex washrooms, or one person washrooms aside from the traditional male/female washroom. Not because we need to be separated, but because it would help ease the stress that many transgender people face. Many of us do not feel comfortable or safe going to a male/female public washroom.
When I first came out as transgender and decided to medically transition this was not on my mind, but that changed after I became so public with my transition. I used to go to the male washroom and just not think about it as anything more than a washroom. However, I started to get this feeling that I should start using the female washroom because I identify as a woman and I’m medically transitioning so it made more sense.
I remember going to the gay bar in Halifax and the washrooms were not marked. Anyone could go to either washroom and do their business and I loved that because I didn’t feel the pressure to choose which one I was going to use.
At first, I felt like until my gender marker was officially changed to female I should just keep using the male washroom. I felt like the legality of the entire situation was a stronger decision maker. However, whenever I was in a dress and heels I would use the female washroom because let’s be honest, it would not look right if I walked into the men’s room in full face makeup, dress, wig, and heels.
It’s kind of a conflicting situation, I’m a transgender woman but if I go into the men’s room I face being harassed or people scratching their heads wondering why I’m in that washroom, or if I go to the woman’s washroom I face the risk of being told I don’t belong in that washroom and looked at like I’m a pervert or pedophile like society tries to suggest. As a transgender person you get a feeling like you just don’t belong.
Let’s be clear, I’m there to do my business, I’m not trying to make people uncomfortable.
One person washrooms are my favorite because I literally don’t have to run into anyone and it is unisex.
The first time I ever used the woman’s washroom I was at a fundraising event in Miramichi, N.B. However, now that my gender marker has been officially changed to female and the government recognizes me as a woman, I only use the female washroom. The second time I was at a gala in a dress and the washroom was filled with cisgender women, nobody told me to leave, or treated me different, thankfully. However, for many transgender people in the world, they deal with the worst on a daily.
I’m sure that eventually, I will go to a place where I am discriminated against when using the washroom, but I’m not sure how I will react when that happens. Most likely I will just ignore the person or tell them to kiss my ass.
The best thing for you to do if you want to be an ally is to not police public washrooms and if you witness someone doing such stand up for the person being victimized. We are all human and deserve to do our business without being harassed, beat, or humiliated.