Where, Oh Where to Tinkle?

| Feb 23, 2015
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il_570xN.438402767_a9kqWhen I first started to go out in public dressed in femme attire I became very, very good at bladder control. I could head out the door for a trip to a club, event or restaurant and know that I wouldn’t need to go to the restroom all night. I had muscles of steel when it came to clamping down on the urinary tract. Why did I develop this ability? To avoid having to go to the restroom. The fear was that if I went into the men’s facility it would cause some kind of stir (possibly violent) and if I went into the women’s facility someone would scream “It’s a man!”

As I became more used to presenting as a female in public I began to learn which places had single toilet restrooms. I could feel safer and less likely to cause any problems going into a lady’s restroom and locking the door behind me. That was a great development since I no longer had to “hold it” all night.

I also learned that when clubbing in New York City you didn’t have to worry about what restroom to use. Most of the clubs had men and women populating both restrooms. The real problem was to find a stall that wasn’t being used by several people to do drugs or have sex. Crazy club kids. Whatever floats your boat — but I gotta pee!

In the “normal” world where men are men and women are women the anxiety over restroom use forced me to keep those muscles of steel in shape. A night that included dining in a straight restaurant, then a movie or concert, followed by a nightcap at another spot would mean clamping down and not hitting the lady’s room for the duration. Oh the relief immediately after arriving home.

One day, and I can’t remember what day it was, I had enough. Or maybe it was just that while out and about I really, really had to go. (The second cup of coffee may have done it.) While shopping in a department store I slipped furtively into the lady’s, scampered into a stall and felt the glow of relief as I unburdened my bladder. I was still fearful that I would run into someone while leaving the restroom but not having to pee was such a relief that I just put myself back together, stopped at the sink quickly and walked on out to continue shopping. Pleasant, anxiety free shopping.

No alarm bells went off. Nothing happened. Hoorah!

From that day on I adopted a sensible “I’ll pee when I need to policy.” I don’t go skipping into the lady’s room making myself the center of attention. (Look out girls! I’m coming in!) I enter demurely and use one of the ubiquitous private stalls. Then I tidy up, check my hair and makeup swiftly and exit equally demurely. I don’t, on the majority of occasions, engage any other users in conversation. (Sometimes in a lady’s room at a Halloween event women will want to talk about your costume, but it’s Halloween so anything goes.)

In all the trips I’ve made to the women’s room I have, to the best of my knowledge, never bothered anyone by being in there. The dreaded cry of “It’s a man!” did not materialize. (Well, once a woman left her stall door unlocked and I opened it without doing the check for feet. We both made a high pitched noise and I left quickly.)

Sometimes I have interacted with other women waiting in line. (Waiting on the women’s bathroom line always happens when there’s a big crowd.) All of my experiences have been positive. But they have been in an east coast, urban setting and in mostly upscale establishments. The bathroom line at the Four Seasons is not the bathroom line at Walmart. You will have to judge how you will be treated in your own area, or at the local Denny’s or Pancake House.

How trans people are treated when they need the restroom has been one of those things that has been a contentious topic for years. Sometime back in the ‘90s I was a guest on a call-in radio talk show. The issue of which toilet I used while out dressed was touched on and a male caller said that he would “kill” me if he learned I was in the restroom while his girlfriend was using it. That was more than a little bit extreme but his kind of thinking is at the heart of the restroom problem. People who have no clue why a man would want to dress as a woman make assumptions about why a “man dressed as a woman” would want to go into a women’s restroom — and what they assume is that you’re some kind of sexual pervert up to no good. To their mind you are not going in there to relieve yourself in a private stall, keeping your hands and eyes off the other women. You’re in there to attack their girlfriend/wife/daughter and that’s all they can imagine. This is because they are ignorant.

Such ignorant thinking has lead to legislation in several places around the country that “in an effort to keep public restrooms safe” bans trans people from using public restroom and locker room facilities. Inspired by “TGs are perverts”  thinking, legislators from city councils to state level legistatures have tried to remove trans rights protections from existing civil rights and human rights laws. They’ve introduced legislation that outright bans trans people from the restroom that doesn’t correspond to what is on their birth certificate. Their logic is completely broken when they predict that rapists will dress up as women and claim trans status so they can enter women-only facilities tin search of prey. Rapists don’t have any regard for laws so why on Earth would they bother to wear a female disguise and claim to be a trans woman?

The logic also breaks down when you actually look at the kind of people who perpetrate rape. It is a crime of violence, not a sexual act and the men who rape do so to dominate women and control them physically. They are often inadequate in the area of social interaction and don’t have real relationships with any women and are resentful of that. They are not at all likely to go through the trouble involved in dressing up like the thing that makes them most angry and aggressive. To them women are not to be emulated but dominated. They will pick a victim in any place where the victim is isolated, where there are few other people around. Restrooms (according to snopes.com) are the number three choice. First are grocery store parking lots during off hours. Office parking lots/garages are their second choice.

The final question concerning these anti-trans toilet laws is who would enforce them? Will  the authorities have to establish a Potty Patrol to check under people’s clothing before they go into the restroom? It seems unlikely there will be any police or other officials available to be posted outside every toilet facility. There might be other things — like real crime — that needs their attention.

An old Beastie Boys’ song told us we had to “fight for our right, to party.” Today we need to fight for our right to potty. And the way to fight is to educate. Whenever hearings are held at city councils we need to be on hand to tell people we are not perverts — we just need to pee. And, if you have to pee during the meeting be sure to use the restroom of your choice.

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Category: Transgender Opinion


About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Assoc., Inc., former editor of its newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She was the Diva of Dish for TGF in the late 1990s and Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows.

Comments (4)

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  1. mikiSJ mikiSJ says:

    The proposed legislation probably won’t stand muster under the CRA of 1964.

    I am in California which has very TG favorable laws including the ability to use the restroom of the gender you appear as (hmmm, wonder about androgynes). This does not mean if you are seen as a ‘man in a dress’ that you won’t cause a disturbance. A good example of this is the 2nd or 3rd episode of Transparent. The main character, together with her two daughters go to the mall and she has to use the restroom. Terrified beyond belief she gets into the ubiquitous queue where she is picked out by a mother who starts s big ruckus together with calling for security. She ends up finding a Porta-Potty in a construction zone.

    Moral; Know where you are.

    I present fairly well and seldom get a second look, but I try to avoid the situations that will cause angst.

  2. tasidevil tasidevil says:

    You would need a lawyer to answer the legal issues but from my discussions with police, they would prefer that the business owner deal with it. Of course if the owner is in violation of local or state ordinances that protect TG people. then that is another issue.

  3. j2emily j2emily says:

    1 item that seems to be overlooked re: this issue:

    If I own a restaurant and have no problem re: transgender folks using the restroom of their choice can this legislation override the rules of a private establishment?

    • angela_g angela_g says:

      That’s a great question. It would seem like the government really intruding into your business decisions. Anyone have a guess?