public restrooms are repressive instruments of social control. unless you have spent time in that twilit land between appearing decisively male or decisively female you have probably not noticed this or thought much about it. probably you look for your assigned door and go in and do what you have to do without pondering the difficulties the two-door-and-only-two-door system exposes some of us to. you might even be one of those who throws that fearsome glance which takes place in some public restrooms and which critically appraises others of their fitness to be behind the same door as you. women do this more than men. i can confidently make this sweeping generalization based on years of empirical research.
it used to be, before i had them removed and before i even began to cross over from sort of (but not really) female-appearing to more or less male-appearing, it used to be that i was sometimes called upon to brandish my breasts as evidence that yes i belonged in the women's room. let me tell you about public restrooms in small towns. any stares and i would throw back my shoulders and thrust my chest forward, at which point in return i would receive a sheepish gesture of apology or a glare of increasing hostility, depending on where we were and who was doing the looking and gesturing. i have spent many a long line in public gathering places such as stadiums and festivals fending off suspicious looks from ladies in polyester.
i fear polyester.
so let me tell you about public restrooms in small towns. once upon returning to the metropolis of seattle my traveling companion on the first of many roadtrips i was to take in the wild west told me that many many hotel clerks and waitpersons had kept a close eye on me as i made my way to the facilities. apparently they were eager to know just which door i would choose. my hunch is that had i chosen the men's door this would have alleviated their anxiety over how to categorize me, while in choosing the women's door which i did in those days i think i only heightened their anxieties further. like i said, women are more concerned with this sort of thing than are men at least when it comes to public restrooms.
i have known women who have chosen to remain women while looking a bit like men who have been thrown out of establishments for attempting to go through the women's door. had they gone through the men's door probably no one would have cared, but going into a men's room when you are not thoroughly a man can be intimidating especially if you are not in a big city at the time where such things are more or less allowed.
some of us develop very strong hold-it-in muscles. there were times when i just couldn't face the gauntlet between me and the stall in a women's room and would instead go searching for a place like a gas station or something with a single seater generic restroom with both little pants and a little dress painted on the door. when reveling in my own neighborhood i have been known to go home to relieve myself and then return to the other revelers.
but so now my problem is a little different. i could tell you first i guess of making the switch from passing through the women's door to passing through the men's door. there isn't a whole lot to tell. i was of course very very nervous at first that someone would tell me i was too feminine-looking to be in the men's room but what i found out is that men don't really care who chooses their door. this seems to be the case whether you are in the offices of a big urban university or out in the sticks at a truck stop. the code of behavior on the other side of the men's door is Don't Notice What Anyone Else Is Doing. i couldn't even get the other men to look at me, much less judge my right to be in the same restroom as they were.
but so now my problem is a little different. now as last night i have to get the lay of the land before i commit myself to anything that might stimulate my kidneys to activity in a public place not because i have to deal with looking ambiguous as i don't really anymore. i look pretty darned male. but i do not yet have the plumbing with which to utilize a urinal without making a mess. there are devices that some of us transguys use but i find them either difficult to deploy successfully or cumbersome to carry around. so i just sit.
so now my problem is a little different. i have learned finally how to defer to those behind you who are waiting for the urinal while you wait for a stall and it wasn't as hard as i thought it would be as no one seems to give two hoots that you are not bellying up to the trough like the rest of them. like i said, Don't Notice What Anyone Else Is Doing. i even find it a little easier to deal with sitting in a more crowded restroom as i don't feel like i have to be surreptitious in making wiping sounds. i have a feeling that as time goes by i will care less and less about making those sounds as it slowly sinks in that no one is listening.
so the main difficulty now is determining if the stall is servicable. it must have a door. or if it doesn't have a door it needs to be out of the high-traffic areas of that particular restroom. i have used doorless stalls before and with a combination of quickness and vigilance it can be done without mishap. but the one thing i do require of a stall is essential stall-ness. that is it must have walls. in my restroom anxiety dreams often the toilets are all out in the open and i hear that in some men's rooms this is actually the case. i have yet to run across one of these but i did read an account online of one guy who was more or less stranded at his seat for twenty minutes before a moment came when no one was looking giving him an opportunity to swiftly stand and pull up his pants before anyone discovered his secret.
i don't ever want to be that man.