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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fear To Tread: The Bathroom

I'm tired of people telling me that I'm in the wrong restroom.

"This is the laddddies room."

Negotiating the bathroom is probably the most common problem among us gender non-conformers. (That, and getting called sir). Because, unfortunately, this is one of those places where you truly have to identify your gender. This is where everyone goes with a clear idea of who will be in this space and I'm immediately identifiable as not fitting in that box.

In response to the Bathroom Gender Police, I've gone through these very specific phases:

1. "I'm sorry I'm in here, please forgive me for looking like a dude"

2. Don't make eye contact, just fade into the background and maybe they won't notice you

3. "If you even fucking look at me strange, I'll rip your head off"

I really enjoy the times when I'm exiting the bathroom right as a woman is walking in. She'll notice me leaving and then adjust her course and walk into the men's room. The confusion she must feel when she notices a bunch of menfolk or urinals must be so jarring. Wrong again lady!! That's only happened a few times - usually they'll re-check the restroom sign and I'll see them look over their shoulders to give me a squint-eyed stare as I walk away.

I do have sympathy for people who are confused by why I'm in the women's restroom. But it's the cruel responses that drive me crazy. Do they think I'm making out with someone in the bathroom? Do they think I look drunk and made an intoxicated mistake? That I don't see all the females in the bathroom and know where I am? That I haven't been educated to understand that men go in one room and women in another? Or that I literally just made an error and need to be re-directed.

This is why safe2pee exists and there are campaigns at various Universities to create gender neutral bathrooms. Because of folks who can't take one moment to look at me and notice my tits or child-bearing hips or weak chin and most of all, the fact that I look like I know what I'm doing in there.


  1. what is missing here is a photo of the formidable lauren angry face worn to intimidate people out of the bathroom altogether, also aerial bathroom diagrams.

  2. Julie Goldman came to my school the other day, and she told this great story about what she does when she gets that "you're in the wrong bathroom" look. She plays up her dudeliness, swaggers into a stall, and starts shouting things like "I hope I don't shit on my balls!"

  3. there's no way she actually says that! right...?

  4. What I always WANT to say in those situations is [mock shocked tone of voice] "Oh my god! You are KIDDING!" But what I usually say is, [deadpan stare] "uh huh."

  5. hey beth, got any stories to share...? i'm looking for people to contribute!

  6. Today I was in the bathroom and a decent looking butch girl walked in while I was fixing my makeup, and I was like "UGH! WHY does she have to come in when I'm doing my makeup? She is not supposed to see this!" are not the only ones who suffer.

  7. I often get this as well. When people tell me I'm in the wrong bathroom, my standard response is "Oh- is there a somewhere else I'm supposed to change my tampon?" It generally shuts people up pretty quick :)