Using the bathroom

Why would a trans woman want to use a woman’s loo, rather than the men’s, anyway?

It’s not because I fear violence. Men in the genteel places I frequent are not violent. The decline in violent crime may have to do with the decline in heavy industry- men do not habitually undertake hard physical labour in dangerous places, so can be softer.

I found women’s loos pleasanter. This one has a carpet, and a box of tissues by the mirror to aid repairing ones make-up. Some have comfy chairs. There are dried or plastic flowers, and an air freshener to suppress ghastly smells. Men’s loos are yuck. A trans man I met felt the opposite way.

I really don’t want to go in the gents. I get self-conscious thinking of it: “Everyone would be looking at me and judging me!” Other people think about you far less than you do, and if they do, it rarely matters; and I could overcome these feelings, as I have with taking off my wig in public. But the feelings are strong.

It would be a symbol, that I am not a woman.

A friend said trenchantly that she would go in the gents’ if there was a long queue in the ladies’. It’s only a cubicle! I have done, once, in the aforementioned Employment Tribunal offices in Manchester, and the trans woman with me was shocked. This is me, reaching the nub, getting sidetracked and avoiding.

I kind of feel alright, at the moment. I get to feel I have the right to exist if I play this game. It’s not real, though. It would all just collapse, and I would have to find some other way.

Or- I am accepted in society, sort of, like this, and part of the game is that I express myself female.

It’s a symbol that I am accepted in society. It is a symbol for other people, too: if I have to be excluded from the women’s loos because I am a threat, I am more Othered, one of those it is acceptable to detest.

I hope I could talk down the apprehension and distress in me. It is not that bad really. It is only a cubicle. I hope I could bear it. I pray I don’t have to.

How would it be for the straights, the normal folk? The social rules change. I have found a way I can bear to be me, in the world. It was difficult. I might have to find a new way. I don’t want to.

How do you feel about me in your loo, or the other loo?

Alexej von Jawlensky, The Blue Mantilla

23 thoughts on “Using the bathroom

  1. “How do you feel about me in your loo, or the other loo?” You’re welcome in my loo, if you like. Now, how do I feel about trans women in general in either loo? I prefer they use the women’s loo … because they’re women.

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  2. You’re welcome in my loo anytime, Clare. I reckon all public toilets should go unisex and we’ll have no issues with the weirdos of the world that think loos are domains needing a gender passport

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    • I had a cleaning jag recently- wiping the dust from all the exposed pipes, and the skirting-boards; the lino flooring is still a bit discoloured, but better than it was…

      Do you use that yahoo email address, Aunt Emma, that I get on my comments page? I wrote to you about Francois Tremblay, who I think is beyond the pale in her/his allegation that all trans women are violently seeking to destroy feminism. Some of us, perhaps- there are weirdos in any group of people- but not all of us. I find the blanket allegation offensive and threatening.

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  3. Barry expresses my feelings very aptly. Meeting you online has helped to educate me about some of the issues facing people who transition but I don’t think I would have given this much thought before the recent publicity. I have never noticed a trans woman in the ladies’ but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been there. Now if I did spot someone, I would try to make them feel welcome if they seemed at all uncomfortable just with a smile or a nod of greeting.

    I feel very aggrieved indeed by men who want to use women’s toilets in protest against trans ladies.

    I’m in Mississippi at the moment and have met many who are horrified by their new legislation. There are many ‘if you’re buying, I’m selling’ stickers. It is a great pity that political grandstanding should be allowed to affect even one minute of even one life.

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    • Thank you.

      It amazes me how transgressive my actions are- even to my own mind. I am conflicted, finding joy and terror in the same thing. I am delighted to hear of Unity Mississippi: Thank you. Love wins! A Quaker quote for you: I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death; but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness.

      There is a male prisoner in a Scottish prison who said he was transgender in order to be searched by female officers. Yuck. I say, give him hormones, forcibly if necessary!

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  4. “It’s a symbol that I am accepted in society. It is a symbol for other people, too: if I have to be excluded from the women’s loos because I am a threat, I am more Othered, one of those it is acceptable to detest.”

    may i ask, is this what the ‘bathroom issue’ is primarily about? normalizing social acceptance of trans gendered persons? honest question. -kia

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    • It is about different things for different people. For Pink, it is about individual autonomy. I read a blogger saying the issue should have maximum publicity, to energise the Republican base and revolt people against Mrs Clinton. Discrimination law is about not treating people differently according to personal characteristics. The North Carolina bill is about protecting women from male perverts (I disagree with their understanding). For me, it is about living my life safely and in peace.

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  5. I avoid the gender neutral toilets at work, so unpleasant, smelly, splashy and foul. Maybe instead of dividing toilets by gender we should test people and allocate them a hygiene token for the ‘nice’ loo which they can use if they wish.

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