I’ll never forget the first time a woman screamed when I walked into a women’s bathroom.
I didn’t want her to scream.
I just wanted to pee.
But my short hair, tall frame and androgynous features led her to believe that a man had walked into the bathroom.
I stuck out my chest and explained that it was okay, I was a woman.
She apologized and left the bathroom, embarrassed.
I was embarrassed as well.
Or maybe mortified is a better word.
Since that day, decades ago, I’ve had similar responses when I walk into a woman’s bathroom.
Demands that I leave the restroom at once.
It’s not fun.
I recently saw a cartoon that speaks to this dilemma:
(If anyone knows the origin of this cartoon, let me know! I was not able to find it…)
This totally describes my experience.
Well, not totally, because I’ve never entered a men’s bathroom. On account of the beat-up thing.
Also, I don’t identify as male. The closest word I can come up with to describe my gender identity is gender-flexible.
Neither gender category – male nor female – describes me.
I’m biologically female, but I look more like a dude than a chick.
Technically I’m transgender, in that my gender expression is outside the two-flavored male or female options.
But when I say transgender, most people think transsexual, which is someone whose identified gender (male or female) does not match their biological gender (male or female). Someone who is transsexual will often choose to take hormones or have gender reassignment surgery so their gender identification can match their biological gender.
I’m not one or the other. I’m both.
Which leads me back to bathrooms.
Most of the time, I avoid using a bathroom in public places. If I have to go and my wife Melissa is with me, I’ll have her accompany me, to show I’m pre-approved.
My favorite bathroom situation, however, is the gender-neutral sort.
I looooooooove me some gender-neutral bathrooms.
Gender-neutral bathrooms allow me to feel safe. In a gender-neutral bathroom, I know there will be no screams. No stares. No questioning my right to pee in this particular corner of the world.
It makes sense that gender-neutral bathrooms are my favorite kind, as I’m gender neutral myself.
It’s a perfect fit!
This perfect fit gets lost in the debate about transgender people and bathroom access.
Yes, there are transsexual people who have the right to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
And there are also people like me, whose gender identity doesn’t fit in either bathroom.
People who still have to pee.
As someone who believes in the power of the mind to effect change in the world, I invite you to imagine a world where everyone can pee in peace.
A world of women, men, and those outside the woman/man paradigm who have a place to go. (So to speak.)
Ultimately, it’s not complicated. We all just need to muster up a little more love and understanding.
Because, ultimately, nothing fixes a problem better than love.
What’s your experience with transgender bathroom access? Share your comments below!