The 1st time I went to a men’s toilet on my own, I was not yet in grade 1. Adults who knew my medical history found out, and there were consequences. After that, I stuck to women’s toilets, however much, on a semi-regular basis, I was challenged on my presence in them.
In my early teens, I was at an airport to greet someone arriving when I got the urge to pee. I left my relatives to wait for the checked luggage, and went to the women’s toilets. As I made my way to a stall, this old lady came out from one, looked my way, she screamed pure horror. She was so terrorised, I considered there might be someone wielding an ax behind me, turned around, only to realise, it was I who’d instilled such terror into her. Dejected, I assured her I was in the right toilet, and continued to make my way to a stall. Before I could reach one, this giant security guard grabbed me from behind in such a manner I could not move my arms or head, and dragged me out as though I had dangerously wielded an ax.
Once back outside, I was interrogated on my motives for going into the toilet. My verbal insistence I was female, coupled with my flat chest and looking somewhere between androgyny and a pre-pubescent boy, were getting me nowhere. The security guard was escalating the possible consequences for my “infraction” as I retrieved the only form of government issued ID with sex designation someone under 16 and not about to travel was likely to have on them: a public health card. The security guard wasn’t convinced, and asked for another one. The only picture ID I had was my student card, which only confirmed my gendered name. The security guard mellowed, though only went as far as justifying her actions rather than apologising for harming my neck and shoulders.
I’d had my fill with being screamed out of women’s washrooms, and decided henceforth, if I was alone, I would go to men’s washroom.
No one ever bat an eyelash.
A few years later, I’m at a festival with high school friends. We all need to pee, and proceed to stand in the extra long queue for the women’s, while there is no queue at all for the men’s. I fish a tie out from my backpack, put it on, which was more than ample to “confirm” the flatness of my chest if someone was even looking closely. My friends instinctively understood what I was about to do, and began to cheer me on. The women ahead in the long line, also caught on and turned this overt transgression of gender norms into a feminist moment: they cheered me on as I made my way to the men’s. At this point, I figure everyone is clear who was doing what, and I was prepared to tell any guy who’d have a problem with it where he could go with the privilege of having adequate toilet facilities while the women were wholly under-served.
The anti-climax came: there was no one in the toilets when I got in. I slid into the only stall, and took care of nature’s call. While my pants were at my ankles, a guy came in and used the urinal.
While I’m washing my hands, he turns around from the urinal, and checks me outin an obvious fashion, from head to toe. I became so nervous I ignored the part where he got a grin on his face. I thought I was about to get into an altercation when he told me which gay bar he was hitting up after this festival, and what time I should show up to grind with him.
I must have disappointed him with how much I blinked in utter confusion. He thought I was old enough to be at a bar (with or without fake ID)?? He thought I was a queer guy?? He was hitting on me?? No cis queer guy had ever hit on me before. I was flattered underneath the bafflement, but mostly, I was taken by surprise. He washed his hands, and left, as I continued standing there, hands dripping water on my pants and shoes as I attempted to compute what had just happened.
I collected my thoughts, and left the toilet. My friends, having seen the guy come out, and me taking longer than usual to take care of business, asked if I was alright. I relayed how I’d just been hit on. They had a great laugh, and I stopped going to women’s toilets all together thereafter.