By Jennifer Snook @SIRJID
The men’s restroom is an uncomfortable place.
I feel cramped by the dark space, I am uneasy doing something so private among those I do not identify with, and the mere thought of using a urinal sets my dysphoria into a tailspin.
And yet, despite all the discomfort, one fact remains.
I have never used the women’s restroom.
I certainly could. Most people who know me know that I am transgender. I have been diagnosed with gender identity disorder. Therefore, by California law, I must be allowed to use the women’s restroom.
What is stopping me is myself.
I am terrified.
I know that I live in one of the most progressive areas in one of the most progressive states in the country. I know that I am supported by my friends, my community and my government.
But I also know all the horror stories.
I remember how, four years ago, an agender person was set on fire for wearing a dress in public not far from here. I hear about trans people and even cis (no-trans) people who are threatened or bullied by strangers because they were thought to be ‘too masculine’ to be in the women’s restroom.
Even without the threat of violence, I am scared that someone will see me and hate me. I want nothing more than to fit in. I want nothing more than to be able to go about my life without wondering what other people think about me.
I want to wear a skirt in public without getting funny looks, and more than anything else, I want the word that pops into someone’s head when they see me for the first time to be ‘she’.
Bathrooms are just a tiny part of this. But they are a constant reminder.
No matter how many bills are passed, no matter how many people encourage me, no matter how little those I am close to care about what bathroom I use, as long as there is still the chance that I will be judged poorly, I will still be scared.
Eventually, I am sure I will get over the fear. I will progress far enough on hormones and learn fashion well enough to be female at a passing glance.
Maybe then, the fear will diminish to the point where I can relieve myself without fear or discomfort.
But legislation and restroom policies only lay the groundwork for any of this.
The real change that needs to be made is in the minds of those who would hate someone for trying to take a leak in peace.