I’ve been using public toilets for years. And I always automatically used the men’s because, well, I’m physically male.
When I was young I never questioned it. I mean, why would you? But, you know, I’ve never felt especially male on the inside. I never felt especially female either. But as time has gone by, and I’ve become more and more aware of my true experience of gender it has started to grate on me.
I need to pee. Must I have to gender myself every time I want to do it in public?
And is it me or have shopping centres decided to increase the size of the male and female symbols over the years? Now they are almost life size, so that I cannot pee in public without feeling like the world is screaming gender at me. As if my genderqueer brain doesn’t struggle enough with having to constantly gender myself.
You see, genderqueer means that I do not feel especially male or female inside my own head. Gender is an outward thing for me – I just happen to be male. It doesn’t define me. So over the years I have developed this funny habit of hesitating, if only mentally, as I assess the daunting prospect of having to assign gender to myself in order to urinate. “Which one should I use?” I ask myself. And it’s a fair question because it’s no longer purely a matter of how I feel in my own mind.
I have started wearing knickers on a regular basis. It helps me feel that however male I may look on a given day I still have that bit of femininity in an intimate place on my body. Even if I’m dressed mostly male, I’m never completely masculine in my attire. It helps me feel whole and healthy, happy and secure. It’s a trans thing.
But this means that I have an unusual tendency to pee in the cubicles, not the urinals. I’d use the ladies, but if I am dressed mostly male then I fear that would get me into trouble. Heck, even dressed androgynous (a mixture of masculine and feminine), I fear that using the ladies would get me in trouble.
But this “trouble” is also something I fear if I were to use the urinals in the men’s toilets while wearing a pink pair of knickers.
So I pee in the cubicles of the men’s – like that other type of trans person probably does: the trans man (someone born physically female but identifies as a man)
These are the strange kinds of things that happen to transgender and genderqueer people when it comes to public toilets. And it is a level of discomfort that I think many non-transgender people do not really appreciate. Because, honestly, who thinks that hard about as simple a matter as using the toilet? Answer: trans people do. Every day!
I pretty much always use the men’s toilets. It’s more out of habit than anything. But I do not feel especially male or female in my own mind. And I even think that in the future I would rather transition to being a woman, at least socially and in appearance. For those reasons there is one question that haunts me every time I need to pee: “What toilet should I use again?”