Behind Enemy Lines: The Ladies Room

So, I just made it out of the ladies’ room unscathed.  This is a daily stress for me.  Allow me to explain.

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!)

Be butch.

2 thoughts on “Behind Enemy Lines: The Ladies Room

  1. I have faced this problem ever since I started wearing my hair short. I’m now 34 years old and I have yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It became worse once I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Portland, OR. I find myself getting excited when I see gender neutral restrooms. But in the many moments where I don’t have much of choice, especially at school or the mall, I just “butch it up” and deal. If I get the stares, I stare back. When someone calls me sir, I look down at my boobs and say, “These are real. They’re not socks.” It depends on my mood. Sometimes I like to take their ignorance/ homophobia and throw it back into their face with a smart remark to embarrass them because I want them to know what it feels like from our end.

    • “These are real. They’re not socks.” LOL! Rae, thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your excitement at gender neutral bathrooms. It’s like a little gift whenever I see those. I am currently in Mexico and the staring is much worse here. I had an official guy today point me towards the men’s room. I smiled and said, Soy mujer. He looked flustered and moved on. It is our butch cross to bear!

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