Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Social Reality

I want to bounce something off you guys.  It's actually a serious subject and I invite your honest opinion.  I value and learn from your comments.

Next Saturday, I'm going to a Halloween Party at a fancy restaurant with four other women.  We're going to eat, drink, laugh and have fun.  We'll be a mini-party in the midst of the larger, public party.

As you know, I'll be wearing the costume on the right.  So will Robin.  We'll look alike.

When the five of us head to the restroom, we'll travel as a group... up to a point.  At a critical juncture, I will have to split off.  The other four women will continue on to the Ladies' Room, laughing and keeping each other company.  I, on the other hand, will have to veer off into the Men's Room.  Looking like this.

I'll miss them.  I'll miss the opportunity to chat while we refresh our lipstick.  I'll miss being part of the group we were going in.

How do you feel about this?  It's not merely concern for other people's feelings that will keep me out of the Ladies' Room; it's also the law.  In almost every area of this country, it's illegal for a person of one gender to use a bathroom designated for the other gender. 

Some of you rebels have reported that you sneak into Men's Rooms at concerts to avoid long lines in Ladies' Rooms.  I'm okay with your lawbreaking. :)

There are a small number of communities that have made it legal for transgendered people to use a restroom consistent with the gender they are presenting, even if that isn't their biological sex.  Those well-intentioned laws aren't always recognized, however, and TG people are often harrassed when they try to legally use those bathrooms.

Two years ago, when I was dressed as Alice Kramden, I faced the same situation.  We were in a large catering hall for several hours.  Each time I visited the Men's Room, I got bewildered looks.  Comically, men near the door double-checked the sign, thinking they'd made a mistake and gone to the wrong room. 

More seriously, I felt awkward applying lipstick at the mirror inside the Men's Room.  I didn't feel comfortable doing that there -- the men who passed me wore sour expressions of disapproval.  But I wasn't going to not do it.  I wanted to enjoy the party; I needed to fix my lipstick.  Appearing in public that night was a big step for me, even under the cover of Halloween.  I wasn't going to let condemning strangers prevent me from pursuing my dream.

Your thoughts on this subject?


  1. I am sorry for the discomfort you feel but at least if you go to the men's room, you'll get out quickly. And I suggest you take a compact and apply lipstick outside. I don't have a problem with you in the ladies room but that's just me. Some might. And while I'm at it, you look super in the costume.

  2. Im a firm supporter of unisex restrooms.
    But it easy to me to say these things here.
    I hope you have a very very pleasant night out.

  3. I agree with you completely! the main thing that you were good! but also a pleasant environment is good! so I think that it is better to women's room! in the men's room - it is not comfortable, and in the women's room more fun)) on Halloween can all))

  4. It might be an idea to have an emissary go in to the ladies and check if anyone outside of your group is there. If not, and your group is game, use the ladies. This way you can comfortably join the crowd and it then becomes the choice of anyone entering if they feel comfortable enough to stay, if they even notice.
    The campus I work at has a couple non-gendered washrooms. They also serve the purpose of family washrooms. Thy are my preferred choice as there is not a large tg community so they are always the cleanest, which is always an issue in a downtown public area. I also find people are much more respectful of the space so there's less graffiti.

  5. This is a tough one- sort of. I see the sides to both- however since you are with a group of women friends, you may be able to use the women's restroom un-noticed. After all the stalls are private (I hope). And the cynic in me dreads the thought of you dressed in a dress facing possible hostility in the men's room. That unfortunately is always a possibility. If you weren't with a group of lady friends, it might seem more odd to enter the ladies' room on your own. However a group might give the entry less alarm. Wishing you a fun Halloween!

  6. hmmmm--I'm with Bella--if you're with a group of ladies I think it will be ok!

  7. Well, I've used the men's room at concerts/sports events/crowded bars to avoid the long lines at the women's room, but I usually post a guard outside the door to make sure no guys walk in :)

    My TG friend (F2M) tends to go into the men's room and just use a stall to do a number 1, but he's taking testosterone and to be honest, no one really looks twice at him or questions it. He even has a beard.

    I suppose your options are to try to sneak into the ladies' room and hope no one complains. There's a chance no one will notice. But if you do use the men's room, seeing a "guy in drag" (because that's what they'll think, as opposed to a TG M2F) on Halloween is a lot more common than you'd think, so I guess at least you have that going for you?

  8. I think there are some good suggestions here - like Cara said, maybe have one of your friends scope out the ladies room and if there is no one else and they don't mind, join them. And also, the idea of bringing a compact and applying your lipstick outside of the restroom works too.

    I honestly wouldn't care if you went in the ladies room as I am definitely one who has been guilty of sneaking into the mens room before! I wish that it was easier. I wish I had a better answer.

    Overall though I hope you have a fun time no matter what. Your costume is fab, I know I already told you that, but your costume seriously rocks.

  9. Some restaurants / bats / clubs over here have unisex restrooms and that's the best idea of all. Some have a common "lobby" with mirrors and separate toilets, and some are fully unisex.. that would be the best of all.
    Actually I have gone to the men's room befor in a bar (when I was young) simply because the ladies room was tooo-o crowded, and nothing happened ;p.
    xo, Lara

  10. I'm in agreement - use the ladies' room with your girlfriends. Safety in numbers and who's going to question you? Also, many restaurants (at least here) have a handicapped washroom that is for men AND women - not a huge deal!

  11. I think Cara has a good idea- have someone scope it out and then come back to report if the ladies is free or not.

    I personally would never feel awkward if there was a transgendered person in the washroom I'm in- especially since the ladies room has stalls with doors, so it's not like you see anything or anyone? I have many friends who are transgendered or know/date transgendered or don't have a gender, so I guess that's where I'm coming from. I do understand some people being uncomfortable, though.

  12. I would like for you to go into the ladies room simple because that's what you would feel more comfortable with (putting the law aside). I personally wouldn't be uncomfortable if you were to go to the ladies room, especially since you'll be with your friend :)

  13. If it were me in this situation I would go ahead and use the ladies room with my friends there especially. Nobody is going to come up to you and challenge you as to your biological gender, but I would guess from the way things usually go, someone less liberal would go and report you behind your back rather than say something to you in person. Cause that's the way judgmental personalities handle things. For this reason I would only go in the ladies room accompanied by my friends so that I would blend in a little easier.
    It's highly likely to go completely unnoticed unless you were to frequent the same place over and over.
    I hope that helps some. Please have a good time and don't let the narrow minds make you feel like you're in a narrow place.

  14. That's a tough situation. I agree with the other comments that you'll probably go unnoticed if you go into the ladies room with your friends. Safety in numbers too. Then you can avoid any possible hostility in the mens room.

  15. I'm really really sorry if this comes out sounding kind of mean, but there really isn't a more graceful way to put it.

    Who is going to be so rude as to report a mannish woman using the women's restroom? Because there are real women who do look like men, would they report them too? It would be like asking a fat person if they were pregnant. They'll just look like an ass.

    I say use the women's restroom with confidence.

  16. Cara is right, family restrooms are wonderful (plus the "family" part makes the immature part of me giggle.) If that is not an option for you and your friends the I agree with using the hadies' room. If you are more comfortable in the ladies' room, you are with a group of women, and you are identifying as a woman,then the ladies' room is an appropriate choice. You can have friends scope it out first, if that would make you more comfortable, but I also agree that it is important that you are confident with your decision. Because choosing either the men's room or the ladies' room is going to require some bravery on your part, you are going to be more aware of the situation than people who have the luxury of using the bathroom without having to be brave. I think most women would not notice, not care, or think that you have some "masculine" features. Finally (sorry for the long reply) this post has really got me thinking about priveledge, and the luxury of everyday things I don't have to worry about. I guess your dilemma has made me think about my own Gender Priveledge, which is actually a nice break from all the toddler snot I have been dealing with today (haha). I hope you have a great time!

  17. given it is haloween and you are dressed up why not go to the ladies room this time around and do the girl thang.. .. who would know? might be your window of opportunity!!

  18. I had not realized it was against the law. I have distinct memories of men in the ladies room at an Atlanta bar in the late 70s. In part, it may depend on how the restrooms are configured. Might be a good idea to have one of the girlfriends scope it out ahead of time...and if possible, go with the girls.

  19. I with the last point that Terri made.

  20. I'm not trying to downplay what you're saying at all, but it's just the restroom, and trust me, you're not missing much. You go there to take a piss and (hopefully) wash your hands, and then you're on your merry way. It's not a big tea party you're missing out on if you don't accompany your lady friends. I agree with Judy: take a compact mirror and reapply your lipstick outside the restroom. Or hey, be like me and don't reapply it at all.

    I get why you might feel out of place in the men's bathroom, but if the guys in there are uncomfortable about the situation, that's their problem, not yours. Just chalk it up as another part of female life: guys are going to stare at you. A lot. It gets uncomfortable sometimes.

  21. Forgot to add that if you're comfortable using the women's room, go on ahead. I don't think anyone is going to call you out on it. You might get a couple odd looks but so what? I use the men's room all the time when it's just a one-staller and someone is clogging up the women's. Didn't realize it was illegal. Oopsie!

  22. As a friend of some people I know who have faced this, my best suggestion is use whatever bathroom you would feel more comfortable in. As a person dressed as a woman, I'd probably say used the ladies.

    I know it can be a challenging and important topic. In my mind, the people who would "mind" the most would be the people who know you personally. I think if you can, discuss it with them. If you're with them and they're okay with it, no one will question it.

    I agree with Cassy. No one is going to make such a judgement that they'd tattle about someone going to the bathroom.

    Personally, I've used the fellas bathroom before. Not sneaking in, but intentionally because I've really had to go or the ladies was backed up. I probably wouldn't waltz into a communal one these days, but men's bathrooms are actually less private than women's bathrooms because of urinals. So that does change the parameters of a 'female' person going into a 'male' bathroom.

  23. I can only agree with the general consensus that using the ladies room would be more than fine. I think it would take a rather mean and cruel person to really have a problem with it, if they even 'noticed' anything anyway. The point of the night is to have fun so I would recommend you do what makes you happy! Or if you're really worried just go with a friend - isn't that what we all do anyway?

  24. I live in a college town and at the bar I sing at, there's TG folks of both flavors who use the restroom for their gender of choice.

    I don't know how conservative your area is. I'd stick with the good advice offered. Send a scout, go with a group, and hustle. Also, sit to pee. :)

  25. That's a big question. I think both options are fine but if I were you I'd go for men restroom (the law is the law, blahblahblah). But girls are having a point - just be happy and in the company nobody would notice. (well... I didn't when I just entered your blog. I commented, I browsed being sure it's a girl blog. and then I run into your phrase about being transgendered. I was surprised, like 'wow! she's physically a man!?'

  26. I am so touched by your bravery... You face everyday things we take for granted so often. I would never give much thought to restrooms - and I often use the men's room when it is a single room and the ladies' is occupied. I've seen transgendered ladies in the ladies' room but I live in LA where no one bats an eye at anything! I would hate for you to be confronted by some kind of narrow minded man who can't handle your honesty...

    Stay brave and hold your head up high and do what YOU feel comfortable with. If you show discomfort in either place you are more likely to have a situation...

    Enjoy your body stocking and tutu and Happy Birthday - in case I forget!!!

  27. I'm a little late to this discussion, but will chime in. As a member of the Bar, I think I recall that you are held to a pretty high standard when it comes to not breaking the law. Isn't it true that you could lose your ability to practice if you are caught and convicted? To me, that would have to make the decision on this matter :-(

    From the standpoint of a friend, this reality makes me very sad and strengthens my resolve to continue to fight for the rights of transgendered people. Which restroom a person chooses shouldn't have legal consequences! You are always welcome in any space I am allowed to enter.

    In the meantime, have a wonderful evening with your girlfriends, and fix your lippy in your compact :-)

  28. In University I was part of a group that lobbied for unisex bathrooms to accommodate the the transgender and transsexual students. Unfortunately many were not comfortable with this notion and it never went anywhere but I think it's an important conversation to have. just like forms make the applicant check off 'male' or 'female' when someone may not identify as either. I say, go into the ladies room and do what you gotta do (people will probably be too drunk to pay much mind, it is Halloween after all!)

  29. I hate that this is even an issue, but love all of the support you've received for staying true to your identification as well as remaining in character according to your costume. Hope it's an awesome party!

  30. Saw this today and thought of you. It's rather long, but she shares her experiences of being transgendered: http://perezhilton.com/2012-10-25-lana-wachowski-transgender-speech

    1. Thanks, buddy. Lana is getting a lot of media attention right now for her movie. I may discuss her on the blog.

  31. Gosh, there really were a lot of thoughtful responses. Your group of friends rocks! :-)

    Since you are with a group, I think it is safe to use the ladies. I think you should be able to base your choice on the gender you are presenting anyway. By "safe" I mean more comfortable for you/less likely to cause a commotion.

    People can be really uptight about the silliest stuff. I don't mean you, I mean the sort of people that would be offended by you using the ladies. I mean, it's not like we let it all hang out in there. And there are almost always individual stalls for gosh sakes.

    I sincerely hope you use the ladies and enjoy the girl time with your friends. If there is any sort of issue, I am sure they would have your back.

  32. I'm so far behind on my blog-reading after being out of commission for five days, but I am completely impressed by the great feedback you received. Do take a beautiful compact (I love the one you sent me so much) so you can touch up lipstick anywhere (and have fun while you're doing it). Approach the bathroom option "in the moment", i.e. if your girlfriends are cool with it and willing to scope it out, and there's not a huge line, go for it. If there's a chance that it will be awkward, get in and out of the men's room quickly. Surely a man dressed as a woman for Halloween isn't that unusual (at least not 'round here - men seem to find it hilarious, and heh, more fun than they want to admit...lol).