For a butch, using a public restroom is one of the worst things. I don’t present as a typical woman right? And, I certainly am no lady. This makes a trip into the ladies’ room a lot like a trip across enemy lines. I try to get in, take care of business, wash my hands, and get out as fast as possible – without getting shot. Speed is key because it reduces the amount of time in “enemy territory” and lessens the likelihood that a woman will stare at me in shock, appalled that she might be in the men’s room. Forget taking the time to check my hair or put on Chapstick. There is no time for lounging in the ladies lounge.
I have had all manner of reactions over the years. Sideways glances. Mild discerning looks. Gasps of shock. Accusations like: “You are in the wrong restroom,” “Oh dear, the men’s room is over there,” and the kicker, “Mommy, why is that man in the girls’ room?”
I’ve had women stop in their tracks as they walk in the restroom, back up, open the door, and look at the sign. Then, once they are sure they are in the right place, resume staring at me. How fun is that! I have to take a pee, but I have to run the gauntlet, bear down, grit my teeth, and get through it as fast as possible. It sucks to feel like I have to apologize for peeing.
Over the years, I’ve developed quite a few strategies for minimizing the damage:
1) The most obvious is to hold it. Not good for your bladder or ability to concentrate, but very successful… Unless of course, you wet yourself.
2) Next, there is the femme escort. I’m not sure why this works. I guess women have less concern about me if I am with another woman. She would not walk me into the wrong restroom, after all. The downside to this, however, is that it’s worse for me if my escort experiences it with me. So, less chance of an incident, but the incident hurts more if witnessed by someone I care about.
3) Sing or talk on the way in and while washing my hands. My voice gives me away as a woman. It also disarms women in the restroom. They might think I am odd, but at least I am an odd woman!
4) Confront the rudeness. This is tough to pull off well. I have done this, but I tend to get more upset. It goes like this… “What are you staring at? I am a grown woman. Don’t you think I know which restroom to use?” I suppose this can be educational, but it’s exhausting. I just want to pee!
Let me know if you have any other strategies. Be nice to a butch walking into the restroom. Oh, and more unisex or family restrooms would be awesome – in case any architects are reading this. (Ha!)