When I came out publicly as trans in our local paper, the writer started off the article with a story I told him about the first time I used the men’s restroom in public. That part on its own drew criticism from close-minded people. Here is the excerpt from the article:
LANSING — Lansing Community College’s new women’s basketball coach felt intimidated a few months ago in a sports bar.
It had nothing to do with Xs and Os.
It had to do with a men’s bathroom, and the first time he had ever been in one.
“It was so great!” Layne Ingram exclaimed to his wife after he relieved himself. “Nobody was talking about their hair, or what this dude did to them. I just went in there, peed and came out!”
Read the full story here.
It’s a big deal the first time you use the men’s bathroom – and the second, and third… and so on until it isn’t. A lot of it has to do with the timing and how you’re presenting at the time you try it. For me, I had been taking testosterone for about 3-4 months and I could see physical changes and feel mental and emotional changes/differences that made it harder every time I had to go into a women’s bathroom. The first time I just did it – I walked away from our table intending to use the bathroom like usual and said to myself, you know what, I’m going in there – I’m doing it.
And so I did.
The first time my heart was beating so fast I barely noticed the awful, horrific smell. I went in, did my business (like most normal people do) and came out. I felt strong, I felt alive, I felt RIGHT!
I don’t like public bathrooms in general and even before I transitioned I tried to get in and out as quickly as possible – this was different. I went in and I wasn’t noticed – I was just in there.
I will be honest though, men’s bathrooms are terrible. They stink and they’re gross. It’s like people save up all the gross, nasty and terrible things they want to do and wait til they get out in public.
There was also a time when I had real anxiety and fear about going into the public bathrooms.
First of all, what if someone saw my feet under the stall facing the opposite way? (For a very long time I searched for ways to rectify this. I even bought something but even that is scary – and not spill proof). You think of creative sounds and things to do or ways to position yourself so it isn’t so noticeable. Well I do anyway.
I was also just binding at the time when I started going in, what if it was obvious – there was about a span of a month where I just didn’t go to the bathroom if I was out, (that started before I first went to the men’s room). In the women’s bathroom, the double takes were getting worse, and so was listening to their conversations and in the men’s room, it was a safety risk.
When I said it was great, it’s because of the feeling of freedom and ME-ness I had. Of course it stank and only had one stall – but I had done it. Now, a year and a half later, nobody knows any different, or pays attention. And my anxiety level is way lower because now I just look like me. I remember the first time I saw someone I knew in the men’s bathroom, I hated it – it was one of those awkward moments when you try to not make it awkward but it still is. It was ok – I survived.
I would say this, if you are considering going into the men’s bathroom, be confident, be sure and have a plan with your friends or others. If you don’t come back in 5 minutes, have someone check on you – especially if it’s early in your transition. You just can’t trust the world we live in right now. It’s sad but it’s true.
The feeling you get and the confidence you will gain from doing even just this small thing, is worth it.