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Transgender Bathroom Access: A Love Story

blog-bathroom-sign-framed

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.

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Since that day, decades ago, I’ve had similar responses when I walk into a woman’s bathroom.

Screams.

Stares.

Demands that I leave the restroom at once.

It’s not fun.

I recently saw a cartoon that speaks to this dilemma:

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(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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

blog-framed-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.

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What’s your experience with transgender bathroom access? Share your comments below!

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24 Responses to Transgender Bathroom Access: A Love Story

  1. Karen Money Williams June 7, 2016 at 8:40 am #

    Such nice clarification of transgender and transsexual. Thanks for that.

    Yes, let’s hold the loving, good-feeling vision that everyone can potty in peace. That will be a big…well, relief.

    • Z Egloff June 7, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

      Hi Karen, Ha! Nice use of “relief.” Just sayin’. :) XOZ

  2. Lillian June 7, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    Love this, Z! Thank you for inviting us to imagine a world where everyone can pee in peace. Imagining this world…and its becoming reality right now. And thank you for your light and compassion.

    • Z Egloff June 7, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

      Hi Lillian, Thank you for being part of the imagining. And for just being generally awesome. :) XOZ

  3. River June 7, 2016 at 10:51 am #

    Hi Z,
    First I want to acknowledge your mortification at having someone make you ‘prove’ what gender you may be. SMH!
    Second, I also want to acknowledge what a courageous PERSON you are! It could be an easier place to ‘pass’ for you if you didn’t go with YOUR true expression of your inner Self.
    Lastly, thank you for being an example of giving us all permission to be who we really are in whatever circumstances.
    Love Is,
    River

    • Z Egloff June 7, 2016 at 1:02 pm #

      Hi River, Thank you! I have to admit, I’ve sometimes considered changing my look to “pass,” but it’s too late for that now. 😉 Love the official new name, BTW. Speaking of living your truth, no matter what anyone else thinks! 😉 XOZ

  4. Jo Lauer June 7, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    Hey Z, thanks for bringing some more light on this subject. I don’t know that there’s ever been a case of a transgender or transsexual person assaulting someone in a bathroom, but I DO know there have been plenty of assaults in the reverse.

    If John Lennon were still around, I think he’d add another verse to Imagine. In the meantime, education, love, courage to those who are changing the world and making it a safer place to pee.

    • Z Egloff June 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

      Hi Jo, Yes – great point. The whole assault thing that some people are talking about is usually in the direction of the transgender/transsexual folks. I love the idea of another verse to “Imagine.”! :) XOZ

  5. Marcy Roth-Burgi June 7, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

    I’m so proud of your courage in being YOU.It’s inspiring. As someone who loves you, it pains me to hear of your less-than-loving experiences out in the world. I am hopeful that we will create a world where everyone can pee in peace. Thanks for your vulnerability in sharing this ZZ….xo

    • Z Egloff June 8, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

      Hi Marcy,

      Thank you for your comment and for your loving friendship. It was a little scary to put this out there, but it also feels great. So thank you for your support. :)

      XOZ

  6. Sam June 7, 2016 at 5:33 pm #

    Thank you so much Z for just being you!!! My name is “Sam” and everytime I read your blog about some of your experiences, I feel reassured that I’m in good company!!! I may not be able to change other people, but I can choose to look at others with more acceptance, so that some day soon we can all “pee in Peace”! Thanks

    • Z Egloff June 8, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

      Hi Sam,

      I always appreciate your comments. So glad that you’re enjoying the blog and the company. Also happy that you’re part of the “pee in Peace” movement. :)

      XOZ

  7. Linda Robinett June 8, 2016 at 8:32 am #

    Screaming? #1. Z, you don’t look scary. If I thought you were a man entering the bathroom, I would probably have embarrased myself by simply saying this is the “ladies”. I had one experience of this. I am a woman who identifies as a woman but I can be androgenous at times. I had my hair all spiked up, wearing a leather jacket and someone reacted when I entered a woman’s bathroom but it was just talking and not negative. Just oops, did you accidently enter the wrong bathroom. Screaming is an over reaction.
    #2. I misidentify folks genders so I am careful with pronouns. The new young voter at the polling place I worked at was a sweet young woman not a sweet young man. Some people just present as androgenous.
    #3 politeness towards everyone always works!!!! If a “man” is in the ladies and it bugs you say, you want the ladies? Try to find out the pronouns prefered by people and if you cannot figure out a good way to do that, avoid pronouns. I know that Z (to my knowledge, I could be wrong) prefers “she”. Never use “it” that just does not work though some languages have a place for that pronoun to be used with humans. (unless the person prefers “it” as a pronoun)

    • Z Egloff June 8, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

      Hi Linda,

      You make some great points here. Being careful with pronouns is a wonderful awareness. In this day and age of greater consciousness around gender identity, we never know what someone’s preferred pronoun is. Being aware of this before speaking goes a long way. As does kindness. Totally! And yes, my preferred pronoun is “she,” though I’m okay when people misidentify and call me “he,” and I also appreciate “they” for its inclusivity.

      Thanks for this great comment! :)

      XOZ

  8. jerrine egloff June 21, 2016 at 9:06 am #

    So isn’t it nice in Italy there is no gender sign at all it just says TOILET or something in Italian that means that…there is a room with sinks on one side and a line of doors that go to the floor…men and women go in ..do their business …come out wash their hands next to one another and leave…i think one of the problems is men needing urinals and being public as they pee….one night at the movies I watched people go into the LADY’s room…the icon of the skirted person was totally inaccurate as not one woman wore a skirt so if they really paid attention they would have entered the hall into the trousered icon.. I just traveled to Alabama and passed through the Charlotte Airport..there are security guards in front of all toilets…and an attendant inside…wow real job creator

    • Z Egloff June 21, 2016 at 11:10 am #

      I know, right? What a concept – just have a bathroom that everyone can use. Amazing to hear about the security guards in the airport toilets! Wow. I’m glad I’m not planning a trip to Alabama any time soon…

  9. jerrine egloff June 21, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    The thing is Charlotte is a HUGE airport a hub for various airlines! Even if you are not traveling to a Southern city..you may get a connection through this airport if you don’t know better..if you are planing a trip do not accept this connection. Go to another route to get there..avoid Charlotte NC maybe they would get it if everyone boycotted that hub.

    • Z Egloff June 21, 2016 at 11:56 am #

      Good point – I could end up there inadvertently! :(

  10. Tracy September 21, 2016 at 7:26 am #

    Union82 in Mountain View – a restaurant/bar next to Veritas, their major patron, has a bank of All Gender restrooms, with a communal sink.

    I was so excited when I saw the signs I took pics and posted on Facebook. Tried to add here but won’t paste. Ah well!

    Wanted to give them good press. Mostly for the amazing fact that they took such a progressive step amidst a sea of corporate corporateness!

    • Z Egloff September 21, 2016 at 4:44 pm #

      Hi Tracy! Thanks for sharing this – SO cool! I love it. :)

  11. Tracy September 21, 2016 at 7:29 am #

    Was able to copy the Facebook link, Z. Let me know if you can see it.

    https://www.facebook.com/tracy.s.abad/posts/10209661323913360:2

    • Z Egloff September 21, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

      This link works! :)

  12. Jason November 14, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

    hey the cartoon is mine, I’ll find the original link as soon as I get home.

    • Z Egloff November 17, 2016 at 12:24 pm #

      Great! Let me know and I’ll put the link in!

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