Always a hot topic of the transgender world, ‘Which bathroom do you use?’
I am a transgender woman who has been living full-time for 5 months and I have not used a men’s bathroom once in that time, nor do I intend to. Also, before going full-time I would always use the women’s bathroom when presenting female.
For many years transgender men and women have been using the bathrooms in which they feel most comfortable, issues have arisen in the past but there is now an increasing number of people speaking out against what, in my opinion, should be a given right.
So, here are my reasons as to why I don’t use men’s bathrooms.
1. My own safety
This is first and foremost my main concern when the issue of which bathroom I use comes into question. If I were to use the men’s bathroom I would be putting my own safety at risk. Transphobic hate crimes are unfortunately common, they vary in degrees of severity from verbal abuse, assault, sexual assault and murder. As other trans people will know, we take precautions and actions to safely navigate our way through the world and not insight transphobia upon us.
With this in mind consider the situation; a male-to-female(MTF) transgender woman walks into a men’s bathroom. The dangers of this are immediately apparent. If seen, this transgender woman is outing themselves to any onlookers, any ambiguity over whether or not they are transgender is removed. In addition to this, a woman walking into a men’s bathroom is not something that people are used to seeing, it raises questions. The trans woman is living female and is asking to be treated and referred to as female as that is who they are, by walking into the men’s bathroom they are undermining this and giving people an open invite to treat them differently.
(The same example can be used in reverse for FTM transgender men)
2. My own mental health – triggering
I am transgender, I have a condition known as Gender Dysphoria. You may not see it, but I have been through a lot of very difficult psychological hurdles to get to where I am today. I did not simply wake up one day, realise I’m transgender, put on make-up, a wig, a dress and walk into this bar where you see me. A little understanding will go a long way here.
For me, Gender Dysphoria means that I do not associate as male despite my body being ‘biologically male'( i.e. assigned male at birth). At the start of my transition this was incredibly difficult, I did not associate with being male, but being female seemed so unobtainable that I had great difficulty in associating that. This left me feeling very lost and really as if I had no identity at all. I wore make-up, a wig and dressed how I felt comfortable but did not have the confidence to leave the house. By leaving the house I was risking becoming detached from my new identity if anyone were to put it into question or not accept me.
When I finally made it out of my house and into the world I was holding onto my fragile new identity and just trying to be seen and accepted and a woman. Using a men’s bathroom would have brought questions into my own mind as to whether or not my new identity was even real.
Even though using women’s bathrooms was still scary and new, it actually became an important factor in helping me accept myself, my new self.
3. ‘Social Gender Role Transition’ / ‘Real Life Experience (RLE)’
Here is a snippet from the NHS website:
‘If you want to have genital reconstructive surgery, you’ll usually first need to live in your preferred gender identity full time for at least a year. This is known as “social gender role transition” (previously known as “real life experience” or “RLE”) and it will help in confirming whether permanent surgery is the right option.’
So, what am I getting at? Well, quite simply, in order to be eligible for permanent surgery via the NHS a transgender person is required to live as their desired gender for at least a year. Correct me if I am wrong, but living as a woman does not involve using the men’s bathrooms (and vice versa).
‘You have a penis so you should use the men’s bathroom’ – but then I’ll never get a vagina, what do I do?! It’s a transgender catch-22 nightmare!
4. I am not a man.