I’m gonna be really honest here; I heavily dislike public restrooms. Even with those paper seat covers, it still feels pretty gross. And I’ve used both genders restrooms. Not exactly too big of a difference between the two, except women tend to spray urine everywhere less, and men tend to write stuff on the walls with their menstrual blood less.
So when I head into the restroom, I just want to get in, and get done. I might be genderqueer, but I generally use the women’s room, since I generally feel a little bit safer in there. This time around, after watching a long movie (about a certain superhero team experiencing a schism), I had traipsed into the women’s room, and was mid-stream when a movie theater employee tapped on my door.
“Excuse me sir, but you can’t be in here.”
It was awkward, but it was quickly resolved when I spoke in my super high voice. Apparently, another patron had seen my hairy legs and assumed a man was sitting in the stall next to her. I left the theater feeling a bit frazzled, but otherwise unharmed.
I’d heard a similar story from a butch lesbian friend of mine; she has a much more androgynous look than I do, and is often mistaken for a fourteen year old boy, thanks to her love of cargo shorts and general obliviousness. When she got redirected to the men’s room, she just went with it, and then texted me about how gross men’s bathrooms are afterwards.
It’s gotten me thinking; in the transgender bathroom debate, where do gender non-conforming and non-binary people fall? I think many of us have seen the campaign where a completely “passing” trans person stands in the bathroom associated with their birth sex and demands that the reader consider how ridiculous it looks. However, I, with my hairy legs and short hair, look out of place in a woman’s restroom. Where should I pee? There isn’t always a gender neutral bathroom available.
My friend, who isn’t trans at all, also looks out of place in a woman’s restroom. Where should she pee? Should she be required to wear a dress before entering, so that people don’t get confused?
It seems that this kind of campaign is focusing on looks rather than respecting people’s identity and privacy. Perhaps we all might be better off if, instead of campaigning to allow people to use the bathroom they look like they belong in, we just start asking for a more open policy on who can use which restroom?