Tag Archives: bathrooms

Bathroom strife

This morning, I camped out at Panera’s.

I was focused on writing a new story but my ears perked up when an older woman a few tables away started talking about President Obama’s mandate that all schools allow transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice.

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My new favorite notebook. Oh to be as dashing as this zebra.

It was the word “transgender” that caught my attention and caused me to reach for my rainbow zebra notebook.

She said the word like this — TRANS gender? — as if she were angry and it weren’t a real thing. Like fat-free butter or a lesbian who has never attended a potluck. I avoided looking at her, but I imagined her shrugging her shoulders and making a sour milk face.

“All it does is cause more strife,” she said.

I wanted to tell her about the strife I feel as a butch woman when I’m out shopping or to dinner and need to use a bathroom. About the strife I feel when I have to determine whether I can skip using a public restroom and make it home in time.

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Um, hello, that doesn’t look like me.

About the strife I feel when I open a door emblazoned with an image of a person in a dress with an impossibly round head and arms thick like salamis and the word “WOMEN” or “LADIES” printed below and prepare to be misgendered and humiliated.

About the strife I feel when I rush to the first empty stall and hold my breath and let out a tiny puff of air when I lock the door and hear the click of the slide bolt.

About the strife I feel as I wait in the stall and try to pick the right time to leave. Now. No, not now. Now. This time for real. 1, 2, 3. Now.

About the strife I feel when I notice my heart beating too fast in my chest.

About the strife I feel as I try to blend in when I’m at the sink washing my hands, even though I haven’t been able to blend in for most of my life.

About the strife I feel as I fast walk to the door and try to look “natural,” whatever that means.

When I am safe on the other side, I wonder why using a public bathroom should cause anyone so much strife.

 

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Weekend recap

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Imagine Miss Daisy in flannel and Doc Marten’s.

W and I ran some errands this weekend. As is our routine, we completed them Driving Miss Daisy fashion with W driving and me riding along in the passenger seat. This is what happens when you are an old married couple with way too much to do on a Saturday afternoon.

W prefers to drive, and I prefer to be driven. I’ll wait until all the giggling stops before I continue …

Anyway, I’ll jump out of the car to run into the drycleaner or return something at the hardware store. And there’s W waiting for me curbside.

This weekend while we were running our errands, I stopped inside a Starbuck’s to grab a late afternoon pick-me-up and use the restroom. It was one of those deluxe Starbuck’s, and I found myself walking, walking, walking to get to the back of the store. In back, a gaggle of college-age girls gathered around a large table studying and chatting and sipping giant plastic cups of coffee through long green straws. They had painted fingernails and long hair pulled back in various fashions or stacked on top of their heads.

In the midst of all of that femininity, I braced myself as I approached the bathroom. Without thinking, I put on the invisible armor I wear whenever I need to use a public restroom. I steeled myself and prepared for anything.

And then I turned the corner and saw two unisex bathrooms. I felt my heart lift and my shoulders relax. I think I heard Sarah McLachlan singing “Angel” somewhere.

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In no time, I returned to W and our great errand excursion, a hot cup of joe in hand.

 

Restroom heroics

images[7]This is for everyone who has ever felt uncomfortable using a gender-specific public restroom.

And for everyone else, too.  Those individuals who have never felt uneasy or unsafe using a public restroom that corresponds with their gender.  If you fit into this category, see what it’s like to be butch or genderqueer.  Walk in my big butch shoes for just a few minutes.

Read what happened to me when I used a public ladies room when I was on vacation.  My story has been published at The James Franco Review.