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Hi!

So I have a bit of an issue with public restrooms. Not because of hygiene but because of the fact that most of the time there's a separate restroom for men and women.

I'm a girl and I'm fine with having a girl's body (most of the time). It's just that I don't really believe in the gender binary and that instead everyone should be able to wear whatever they want, do whatever they want and get the haircut they want without having to conform to the gender stereotypes. I have short hair, never wear makeup and wear clothes that aren't necessarily "female looking". Because of that, a lot of people get confused about my gender. I don't usually mind, because most people don't see the gender binary as a problem and (sadly) our current society is very much about categorizing people in different ways. So when someone calls me "sir" or "him" I don't feel the need to correct them and just go on with my day.

However, it does become a problem when it comes to public restrooms. Because restrooms are a place where you can't just be genderless or gender neutral, you HAVE to choose on or the other. I suppose it isn't even a choice because I AM biologically female, so I always go into the women's restroom, but it would be a lot easier for people like me if there was a gender neutral restroom to choose from as well. But let me give you some examples...


  • I needed to use the restroom at a mall and walked in the direction of the women's restroom. The cleaning lady saw me and started shouting "no, no, no, it's on the other side!". I died inside but just kept going and when I got out of the restrooms I saw her chatting to her colleague and pointing at me.
  • I went to use the restroom at the book store in Stanford Uni when we went there on a school trip. When I got out of the stall and was washing my hands, a group of Japanese ladies walked in but when they saw me they became really confused. Some started looking around, some just went back outside, some started gesticulating like their brain stopped working. I suppose it was a funny situation looking back, but it made me feel bad anyway.
I have noticed that every time I have to use a public restroom I now try to walk in a more "feminine" way, I try to smile more or talk (so people will hear I don't have a deep male voice). Sometimes I take off my sweatshirt before I go in so people might notice my female curves. I don't like doing these things because it makes me feel like I'm trying to be someone I'm not.

Going to the restroom has become a very stressful thing for me even though it shouldn't. It makes me want to avoid going to places for too long or where I know I'll have to use a public restroom. Again, I don't mind that people think I'm a guy, it's just these particular situations where people will stare at me and look at me like I don't belong.

This summer I really want to go back to the US to visit a fews friends and maybe go on a road trip. But then I realized I'd have to use a lot of public restrooms, so every day would have multiple stressful situations. And this extends to every time I would want to go on a vacation, definitely in countries where the gender binary is even more present.

I was wondering if any of you have any ideas on how I can make these situations less stressful. Have any of you been in similar situations and how do you handle it?

Thank you for reading my story :)
 

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You have my sympathies for having to deal with that... I unfortunately have no experience or know anyone personally who has to endure that, but perhaps I could offer this: Sometimes, some public places will have a restroom that simply has both "female" and "male" icons on the door. The restaurant I work at actually has two (and only those two) restrooms labeled as such. So maybe, you and your friends could scout out places that has restrooms like that? With that said, it may be rare to come across public places that offer those types of restrooms here in the U.S. and I have no idea how common it is outside of the U.S. (like whether or not we have the most restrooms like that compared to other countries or vice versa). All I know is that they do indeed exist and I can imagine it would be ideal for you.

I wish you luck!

PS: I do realize the 'advice' I offered was more how to avoid the binary restrooms and not how to overcome them.. apologies in advance and hope someone else can offer more support!
 

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Just use the men's room.
 
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Yeah, you could try using the guy's restroom.

To be honest, I don't think most guys care who is in their bathroom. Like if I saw a woman in the men's bathroom, I would not be confused and walk out. I would just use the bathroom and leave. I might make sure I was not in the ladies room, but if I knew I had went in the guy's then I would just shrug and continue with my business.

Guys don't socialize in restrooms or try to make eye-contact with other men. We are just in and out, so most of us would not notice a lady who is not dressed like one in our restroom, we would just think it was a guy if they were in there.
 

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@frietfriet I haven't found myself in similar situations, so I have no experience with this but I will tell you what I think I would do.

I understand that you don't want to pretend you are someone that you are not, you want to stay true to yourself which is a very typical 4 trait. But. If you act a little bit more feminine when you walk into the restroom not a lot of people will question if you are female or not. Acting for a few moments (and it really is just a few seconds) can save you a whole lot of stress.

Another thing you can do is this: just walk into the restroom with confidence. Don't hesitate, don't look around nervously, just walk in like you belong there. When you do look around nervously or if you hesitate with stepping into the ladiesroom you are attracting attention to yourself and people will start 'examing' you and questioning whether you are female or not. If you just 'barge' in nobody will notice.
 
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Ugh, I'm so sorry this is stressful for you. I'm a pretty feminine girl but I have always thought gender-separated bathrooms are stupid. I hate that it makes you so uncomfortable but I think it's kind of good/funny that you're throwing people off and making them question. I like the idea of people rethinking gender norms.

I had the thought that you could keep a gender-blatant token item with you, like a pink sparkly headband or a very feminine bracelet or watch, a visible necklace, or even just a pink bandana. You could just store it in the car or in your back pocket and pull it out when you feel like using it.

I might be tempted to grab my boobs at people that were freaking out but I just get angry like that. :blushed:
 

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I guess I've been experiencing the opposite a bit recently. I've definitely been assumed to be a girl on a few occasions, like you I don't correct them. In the bathroom I've gotten a lot more looks than I used to due to my hair length/style(my hair is essentially a bob(the messy/wavy variant w/ bangs)) and consistently being clean shaven. Beyond staring for a second or two (normally it would be no looks at all), the guys just go along with doing their business. Oh and I guess using a urinal probably helps with that :p


I guess I take it as a compliment since I don't like being seen as particularly masculine though I'm not sure thats possible in your situation where the people appear to be more judging than anything
 
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