Using the Men’s Bathroom
Recently we’ve had multiple people write in with questions and anxieties about using the men’s bathroom.
Is it legal for me to use the men’s room?
The laws regarding which bathroom trans* people are allowed to use are unfortunately very difficult to find information about. Some states and cities have policies that specifically state that trans* people have the right to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity (Colorado, Iowa, San Francisco, Washington state, and Washington D.C. all have such a policies). Very few states and cities actually have laws on the books that prevent trans* people from using the bathroom of their choice, although New York and Minnesota’s supreme courts have ruled that trans* people don’t necessarily have the right to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity and that it is not sex discrimination to bar a trans* person from using the bathroom of their choice (see the ACLU website for more information). The majority of places, it would seem, leave it pretty much up in the air.
Having said that, a lot of whether or not you are going to have legal problems using the restroom depends on whether or not other people are concerned about you being in the bathroom with them. Trans* women are far more likely to have trouble using the women’s bathroom because cis women are more on guard for “intruders.” Women’s bathrooms are often a hotbed of gender policing, and there are plenty of stories of butch women, genderqueer individuals, trans women, etc. getting hassled for using the women’s room (often just through getting dirty looks or nasty comments from other people in the bathroom, though sometimes worse). In this sense, using the men’s bathroom might just be a better idea if you are a trans* man who passes at all because women are easily made uncomfortable with the idea of a man/someone they perceive as male using their bathroom.
If the sex on your drivers license is changed to male, you shouldn’t have any legal issues with using the men’s bathroom, but even if your ID doesn’t say male it is fairly rare for trans* men to get in legal trouble for using the men’s bathroom.
I’m scared of using the men’s bathroom, what if something happens to me?
As we mentioned before, women’s bathrooms tend to be more dangerous territory for gender variant individuals than men’s bathrooms. Men tend to not make eye contact or acknowledge other people in the bathroom with them, which makes it easier to blend in and go unnoticed. Before you get confident, its good to use bathrooms that are off the beaten path where you will likely be the only one in there. I’ve never heard of a trans* man being seriously hassled for using the men’s room, although that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious or that it never happens. Just be confident, don’t draw attention to yourself, and keep calm.
When is the right time for me to start using the men’s room?
This depends on how you feel about things and your situation. I’ve heard of guys who use the men’s bathroom when they are pre-everything, whereas I didn’t start using the men’s bathroom until I was 5 months on T and starting to pass 100%. Part of the reason I didn’t use the men’s room earlier was that I transitioned in a place where a lot of people know me and I was worried about people giving me trouble because they knew I was trans* (that didn’t happen/hasn’t happened yet). A good rule of thumb is to start using the men’s room when you start to feel uncomfortable in the women’s room, which will come at different times for different people.
Do I need to have an STP to use the men’s room?
Not necessarily. Nearly all men’s bathrooms have at least one stall, and plenty of men sit to pee.
(comic by Adrian Tomine)