Are you a person who doesn’t look like who others would expect in either a men’s or a woman’s bathroom?
Then you are in trouble.
Whether you are trans or gender-non-conform, public washrooms are a source of stress and a place where others feel free to verbally harass you, assault you or ‘just’ make you feel unwelcome and out of place.
A study out of Washington, DC, set up with help from DC Trans Coalition, “identifies the impact that transgender people’s negative experiences in gendered restrooms can have on their education, employment, health, and participation in public life.”
I and my friends often joke about holding up our pee for hours and the trepidation when you do decide to go in.
Well, our bodies don’t like it either way.
*Avoiding* public washrooms leads to bladder and kidney infections and dehydration.
Going in means stepping into an unsafe environment.
And if you have to do that every single day at school or at work, you end up with stress related illnesses, like depression, social anxiety, high blood pressure or migraines to name but a few.
What else? Well, you skip classes, you drop out of school. Or maybe you keep changing jobs because this time around access to washrooms didn’t get better. Again.
What do I do?
I steel myself. I close my eyes. I avoid other people’s eyes. I smile excessively. I push out my breasts even though I hate doing that because it doesn’t feel like me.
Or I walk around with swishing hips and exaggerated hand movements.
A friend of mine hums in a high tone or coughs on a high octave.
And it feels… not okay. Unsafe.
Heck, it *is* unsafe.
Don’t tell me it would never happen where YOU work.
I was stared at in a supremely hostile manner in the washroom of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal during a gendered washroom harassment case.
I was verbally assaulted in a queer bar.
Yes, the irony!
So, next time you see someone in the washroom that you think doesn’t belong there. Think again. Don’t stare.
And leave us be.
If there is nothing else happening other than us taking a piss, just leave us be.