How to Use the Men’s Room Without Losing Your Head

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We all have to go. But when you’re transgender, using a public bathroom is an anxiety-inducing experience. Even if you live in a state or city that’s accepting enough of trans people to not make a big deal over bathroom usage, you might still be looking over your shoulder every time you step inside.

So naturally, one of the most common questions I see time and time again in the FTM groups I’m in on Facebook and on forums is “When can I start using the men’s room?” Or “How can I use the men’s bathroom safely?”

Of course, trans women ask virtually the same questions when it comes to the women’s room. So, really, this can be considered more of a general guide if you’re willing to mentally replace men’s room with whatever bathroom you generally prefer. Our non-binary readers are more than welcome to take some of this advice into consideration as well, especially if you’d prefer to use a binary restroom versus trying to find a gender neutral facility (but I’ll talk a little more about this in just a moment).

Using the bathroom shouldn’t have to be a big deal. Unfortunately, for a lot of us, it is. Your safety and comfort should come first so if you’re a trans man and not comfortable using the men’s room at this time, this doesn’t mean you’re less of a man. (And vice versa, of course, for the ladies). But when you’re ready to use the men’s room, here’s a few things you can keep in mind to make the transition easier.

Stay Calm, It’s Just a Bathroom

 It’s easy to feel paranoid when you first start using the men’s bathroom. I remember the first time I did. I had only been out of the closet for a few months. In fact, I wasn’t even presenting as male full time- only occasionally out in public and at my community college. I was a sheep on the train tracks- skittish and looking over my shoulder at every turn. Granted, I made it out of the bathroom okay and without any problems. I don’t think I looked calm. But as I began to use men’s rooms more and more often, it became less of a big deal. And now it’s just a normal, regular thing.

I find that the calmer you are, even if you really have to fake it to make it, the better you’ll feel and you’ll generally run into less trouble. Even if you’re not super confident about how well you pass, act like you belong in the restroom anyway. Watch your body language. Remember, you have a right to use the bathroom comfortably and safely, just as much as any other man in that levitra online ordering room does.

Take a deep breath. Walk about the bathroom with purpose. Select a stall, do your thing, wash your hands, and head out. While it never feels like just a bathroom when you’re first starting out on your transition journey, think of it that way regardless.

The more you act like you belong in the bathroom, the more other people around you will know so.

Use Social Conventions to Your Advantage

There is one very, very nice thing about using the men’s room. Men don’t often use bathrooms as chances to socialize. And this works to your advantage if you use it. From what I’ve found in my personal experience, men don’t tend to pay attention to whoever’s also in the bathroom. I certainly don’t. Get in, get out.

It also tends to be more socially acceptable for women (or people mistaken for women) to use the men’s bathroom in an emergency versus the other way around. If you’re misgendered and mistaken for a woman, it’s still not super likely that you’ll experience a lot of grief.

Granted, this isn’t to say that trans men don’t get harassed in men’s room. Unfortunately, it happens. But it may not happen as often as you would think.

Do I Have to Use an STP?

Stand-to-pee devices allow trans men to do exactly as the name implies. And often times, trans men ask whether being able to stand and urinate is a pre-requisite to using the men’s room.

Not so. Most men’s bathrooms should have a stall you can safely use. Plenty of cis men, after all, prefer to sit. And even if you do have an STP, you can still use a stall and stand if you’re worried about how safe you’ll feel using a urinal. Get one because you want one. You never have to buy one or use one if it’s not something that appeals to you.

When to Know When It’s Time

When do you know when you’re ready to use the men’s room? It’s really more of an individual experience. But as a general rule of thumb, if you haven’t already, consider switching to the men’s room (and of course, vice versa if you’re a trans woman) when you’re presenting male most of the time or full time. If you find women tend to give you trouble in the women’s room, it’s a clear sign that it’s probably time to consider using either a gender neutral facility or broaching the men’s room.

Using the men’s room shouldn’t be a big deal. But because it often is for a lot of us trans guys, hopefully this guide makes at least considering making the switch a little easier.

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Byron James Kimball

Byron James Kimball is a freelance writer and editor based in Oregon. FTM and queer-identified, Byron hopes to raise awareness of social justice issues in his own town. When he’s not writing, Byron isn’t quite sure what to do with himself.
Byron James Kimball
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