The toilet symbol is international. Arms, legs and a head sticking out of a triangle = ladies’ and arms, legs and a head sticking out of a rectangle = gents’. They’re also a bit problematic and born of gender stereotypes, but that’s not the point of the post.
Questioning Transphobia has a great post up about trans people in public toilets and the transphobia/transmisogyny in quite a lot of debates. Why is there even a debate about whether trans women should be allowed in women’s toilets? I’ll let the article speak for itself – I can say nothing that hasn’t been said better in it, since I have no first-hand experience of the issues. But I would like to say, trans women are women. It doesn’t matter that they may have or once have had genitalia that society sees as male – they are women.
It got me thinking about my own relationship with public toilets, though. I hate them. I’m agender (don’t have a gender), which means I dress and act the way I am comfortable with and enjoy and wish to be seen, and most of the time I really don’t give a damn what people think of me. Mostly, they don’t get it – I get calls of ‘are you a boy or a girl?’ ‘fag!’ ‘dyke!’ ‘tranny!’ I don’t really care.
Toilets, though… toilets get to me. To go into one, you have to sex yourself – and if you’re like me, you get stared at and hissed about whichever you go for (and I’ve been in both). Even when no-one does either, I still feel like I’m being assessed, scrutinied, judged. If there’s a queue in toilets, I’d almost rather piss myself than go in. If there’re people in there, I’ll think hard. Even if there aren’t, I still look anxiously around at people outside, thinking they’re all watching and judging. I’m lucky in that I have a strong bladder.
If I really have to go in, I change my stride, stance and expression to an often exaggerated stereotypical gender presentation, run in, piss as fast as possible and then flee the scene. I’ve only once been actively confronted (in school, where they should all have known my assigned sex anyway), but I’m still absolutely fucking terrified in toilets. Once, on holiday, one of my parents and I went to the toilet at the same time and I voiced my concern and discomfort, only to be told, ‘nope, I can’t see anyone doubting you at any time.’ Not helpful! 1) I want to be doubted in day-to-day life (and that was the same day that my parents insisted on gendering me incorrectly to everyone we met, so I wasn’t in the best of moods anyway; can’t really complain though, since I wasn’t out) and 2) my parents have known me through my childhood, through periods of presenting as both boy and girl, and they’re not the best people to tell me how strangers read me.
Being scared in toilets really isn’t nice, and I think gender-conforming cis people need to realise this. We all have a right to piss.