Recently, here in Cyrsti’s Condo I wrote a post which touched on the subject of transgender men using the men’s restroom. At the time I wondered if they felt the same trepidation as many transgender women feel just trying to take care of some of their basic needs. I also asked for trans men to respond. In response, Norm commented :
“Yes, just from one guy’s perspective, it absolutely is! I have been out for less than a year but do pass, and despite never having been given trouble, it ALWAYS terrifies me to need a restroom. I will avoid drinking when I need to just to minimize the chances I will need a bathroom in public.
Most of this I hope is in my head, but I guess it speaks the perceived intimacy of a truly private, gendered space that absolutely intensifies impostor syndrome and the feeling of ‘invading something sacred’ that we perceive is not ours by birth.”
As always, I always appreciate comments! Plus another transgender man echoed Norm’s comment exactly not to mention trans women who feel the same way also.
Even though today I don’t experience any problems using the restroom matching my authentic self, it wasn’t always so easy when I first began to explore the world as a novice trans woman. Looking back at my process, most likely many of my problems had to do with how I presented myself. I know often my dressing style bordered on trashy rather than taking the effort to dress to blend in with other women. The whole process resulted in me getting the police called on me all the way to being asked to leave one venue. To this day I still carry the mental scars with me and do my best to follow the lessons I learned from using the women’s room.
A few of the lessons are common sense, some not so much. I learned to always check the seat before I sat down, all the way to never putting my purse on the floor. I even practiced directing my pee flow into the toilet to make sure a woman next to me wouldn’t think anything was wrong. Of course too, there are the absolutes such as always sitting to pee and washing your hands. Perhaps the most difficult thing I learned was to look other women in the eye, smile and communicate if needed. A real change from my lifetime of experiences acting like I was a man.
I used to think of the whole restroom imprinting process as a form of PTSD from my days of being yelled at for merely trying to pee. Now I am more a fan of Norm’s impostor syndrome comment. The final result these days is if I have to go, I go. However I know in so many states (like Ohio) which don’t have protections for transgender people at all, I know I am still at risk in many mostly rural parts of the state. Fortunately I have my partner Liz to check out the situation ahead of time.
It’s still a shame we have to make the basic needs we have so difficult for many of us.