Wednesday, 9 July 2014

That Whole Bathroom Thing

One of the issues which seems to really face trans people who are out and about in society is what toilet they should use, and what reaction they might face when they get in there. Can it really be that much of a big deal?

Unequivocal: Bathroom Sign
This topic entered my mind the other day when I went to work and noticed a sign which looked a bit like this one. It might be worth a discussion of what this sign actually says.

This sign is an example of what linguists call proto-writing; the sort of thing you see on road signs and the like. The idea is that the sign conveys a message which is clear even to people who cannot read, and is designed to be culture-independent. It contains a diagrammatic representation of two figures. One of the figures is a rudimentary outline of a human body, where the other has a triangular body to represent a dress or skirt.

Nowhere on this sign does it say "Men" or "Women". Genitalia are not depicted. Chromosomes are not discussed. The presence or absence of any characteristic is not questioned, other than some vague depiction of clothing.

It would seem quite reasonable, according to this sign, for people wearing skirts to turn right, while people wearing trousers should turn left. So why should anyone object if a man dressed in a skirt wanted to turn right? But how many women, wearing jeans, would turn left?

Different cultures
I know, of course, that this sign is a convenient shorthand. We know what it means, even if what it means isn't quite what it says.

This sign isn't quite as cross-cultural as it purports to be. In some countries, robe-like garments are common for both men and women. On a trip to the Middle East once, I was amused to see a toilet sign which had identical images for male and female, wearing robes, except that the female one was pinched in around the middle to represent a waist, where the male one wasn't.

I didn't take a picture of the sign, but this one is reasonably similar. It is a reminder that our Western cultural norms are not shared worldwide; that some cultures would look at the figure on the right (above) and decide the skirt was indecently short.

Trans people can find themselves in a real pickle about bathrooms. For example, Victoria Askey says of her transwoman spouse Treva:
Victoria: I hate the fact that she has to go through... wondering which toilets she can use without causing problems. I mean, use the men's and get beaten up, use the women's and get some female complaining, use the disabled and get someone complaining, and this can all be in front of my children. Some people don't seem to think before reacting. I hate the fact we are stared at. What happens if we go some place and she needs to use the toilet but there is no option to her? Then we have to come home just so she can pee.
Meanwhile, Rachel in Auckland reports this:
Rachel: After my drink, I need to visit the ladies room, weaving in and out amongst all the tables, a pretty blond woman stood (6ft 2 in heels to my 5ft 11) and motored her way to the ladies, just beating me. After she entered, she held the door open for me and smiled.
And Megan, one of my correspondents, writes:
Megan: To my surprise, women are somewhat friendly and just assume you're gay and have no interest in them. One particular outing, a young lady about 22 or so noticed the stall door lock was broken and asked me to guard it while she was in there. Fox watching the hen house came to mind! As she left, she guarded it for me.
Victoria is in the UK, Rachel in New Zealand, and Megan is in the US. So perhaps there is a cultural aspect to it. Perhaps some countries (or cities) are fine, where others are not. So hard to know for sure. Why do I have to rely on the word of my correspondents? Because I don't (yet) go out dressed, so I have never had to face up to this problem in a practical sense.

The solution?
I don't doubt that there are dozens of stories, good and bad, about trans people in bathrooms. I found myself in a debate with some radical feminists on the Gender Trender blog about this issue. Though I tried to be reasonable and balanced, it didn't work; I was roundly flamed, and everyone had plenty of fun calling me "Mr Vivienne" and so on. I suppose some people resort to insults because they can't argue articulately.

Nonetheless, some of them had a point to make, and I think it's worth bringing out that point here. How would a woman feel if she went into a public bathroom and found someone who was clearly a male-to-female transgender person?

Some women, such as the women that Rachel and Megan met, seem to be genuinely untroubled. It seems no big deal to them. But I am reasonably sure this isn't true of everyone. Some women might feel really uncomfortable. Some women might feel threatened, or in danger. How do those women react? Most likely they say nothing, avoid eye contact, hoping that this unwelcome interloper will quietly go away. That reaction may be misinterpreted as acceptance. In other words, just because the women in a public bathroom don't run screaming when a crossdresser walks in, doesn't mean they are all comfortable and accepting.
Random Radfem:  It is also not the responsibility of any woman to object to your presence. Most woman are not going to confront a man- probably a much physically larger man- in an enclosed private room. No matter how uncomfortable they are made to feel, it is safer to get out than to risk the chance of being physically attacked if the man in question is mentally unhinged.
Seriously inclusive
I think that some male-to-female transgender people deliberately seek to insinuate themselves into spaces which are traditionally women-only, as a means of validating their identity as women. The radical feminists see this as a violation, a masculine act: the imposition of male privilege on other people, whether they object or not. Nonetheless, I don't see this. I see it as being essentially a personal thing, perhaps even a selfish thing:  I think the transgender people are trying to say: “look what a real woman I am”; rather than saying “women do not deserve legal recognition”. I don't accept the radical feminists' express accusation, which is that any trans person in a women's bathroom is a sexual predator with the intention of molesting its occupants.

(I am reasonably certain that a crossdresser visiting the men's bathroom while dressed, would provoke anger, outrage and bewilderment. Mind you, this isn't a subject on which I have read much at all).

Why is it that bathrooms have become the battlefield upon which these bloody conflicts are played out? In this wonderful article from The Atlantic, journalist Julie Beck analyses our attitudes to public bathrooms.
Beck: The public collides uncomfortably with the private in the bathroom as it does nowhere else, and the unique behaviors we perform stem from a complex psychological stew of shame, self-awareness, design, and gender roles. This culturally agreed-upon separation creates unique single-sex spaces. There is perhaps no other arena that so stridently reinforces gender separation and difference.

Biologically speaking, men and women don’t need separate bathrooms—they’re using them for the same reasons. While there are a few functional differences—many men prefer to pee standing, women need receptacles to throw away tampons and pads—it’s not hard to imagine a unisex bathroom that would, at least in theory, work for everyone.
The public bathroom is therefore a focal point in the behaviour of men and women. Beck comments that men and women behave very differently in public bathrooms. Women are more relaxed, chatting, sharing makeup, where men avoid eye-contact, don't speak to each other, and don't even stand near one another if they can help it.

This cartoon came from a website for librarians.
As an aside, I am indebted to Beck's article for making me realise that I am not alone in being too uncomfortable to pee in the presence of strangers. Where possible, I choose a cubicle in public toilets, because I need privacy, otherwise I can't go. It seems there are plenty of people out there who are worse than me in this regard!

Overall, then, these are my thoughts about the whole bathroom thing. First, I think that men who wear women’s clothing in public are, in general, politely tolerated. While I completely welcome this, I think this tolerance is a privilege; I do not see it as a right. (And, as I have mentioned on this blog, there are some people who are not helping the cause here).

Next, I think that women should be entitled to safe, women-only spaces, for any reason they think fit, or even for no reason at all. For me, this means that they are entitled to object to the presence of a trans person in the women's public bathroom. If someone objected to my presence in any public space (e.g. a mall, an airport, a library) I would quietly leave without making a scene or causing a disturbance. If someone objected to my presence in a women-only bathroom, I would immediately leave without question. I do actually worry that it might offend someone or make them uncomfortable, and for me at least, this would not be OK.

I think that things are changing. I have noticed several restaurants in my town which just have a series of unisex cubicles. No problem. Beck's article says that gender-neutral public bathrooms are now mandated by law in any new or renovated building in Philadelphia. In addition, see here for the story of parents using the law to force a school to allow their transgender daughter to use the girls' bathrooms. Once again, the tip of the iceberg.

While transgender people are trying to get into the women's bathrooms, women themselves now have access to a range of devices which allow them to pee standing up. Nonetheless, I suspect it will be a while before women are elbowing men out of the way at the urinals!

===
My thanks to Tasi, for drawing my attention to Julie Beck's article and Lexie Cannes' article, and to Melissa Lyn for the Unshelved cartoon, which came from this webpage. See also here for my comments about the tampon advertisement featuring a meeting between a woman and a crossdresser in a public bathroom.

Addendum 27th April 2016

The bathroom debate continues to feature prominently in public media, with several US states enacting laws which restrict which bathroom trans people can and cannot use. Other states have had similar laws thrown out.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post has produced this interesting article which summarises and synthesises the status quo. In addition, Lexie Cannes has written this eyebrow-raising article which contains reports of several women being thrown out of public bathrooms for being mistaken for transwomen. Ouch!

31 comments:

  1. Interesting post. Nice to see you back in the fray.

    Public restrooms engender conversation and argument like no other trans issue. Even though I am 6'1 and weigh well over 210lbs., I'll take being called out by a woman rather than risking physical abuse from men any day. For men it's a homophobic response. Aside from open trough urinals at sport venues straight men do their damnedest to avoid contact with another male. Eye contact and much worse, physical contact. But that is inherent in the design of the male restroom. Guys stand up and women sit down. Therefore there are ONLY private stalls for women.

    I don't like to make waves either. But I will go where I feel safe and gender appropriate. And for Molly that isn't the men's room. And that is the law in Illinois as well although that hasn't stopped some employers (and some of their female employees) from being total jerks. I have a friend who works for Hobby Lobby (yes that Hobby Lobby) who is fully transitioned except for gender affirmation surgery (Hobby Lobby doesn't pay enough to afford it or she'd have it already). Meggan looks and acts every bit the woman she is, has had all of her public records and gender markers changed to F but is denied access to the woman's restroom at work by her employer. It's absurd. They will only relent if she has the surgery she can't afford OR by order of court. Their "arguments" are so absurd if they're almost laughable. But it is such a slap in the face to her. She has negotiated a work around with male co-workers and frequently leaves her place of work to use a public women's facility.

    Maybe the issue is fixed more along crossdressers who make no attempt to look and act appropriately for where they are (5" heels and a mini skirt on a 50 yo at Home Depot--yes it happens) v. CDs who do try and transwomen in or who have finished transition. Maybe the former are scary but the latter shouldn't be. If you think about it the whole idea of a transwoman accosting a cisgendered woman is so absurd as to be almost comical. More akin to being accosted by a lesbian in the women's restroom. The real answer is the single occupant restroom or a unisex restroom with floor to ceiling panels (they do exist).

    And it is very comical when the line for the women's restroom is too long and a woman will just barge into the men's room and commandeer a stall. Happens all the time at older public venues where the women's restrooms are inadequate and nature calls in large numbers. Guys seem to take it all in stride and go out of their way to give the gal the space (and protection) she needs.

    I do wonder why you continue to dialogue with radical feminists. They will NEVER CHANGE. They won't even accept a postOp fully transitioned transwoman as a peer. Seems Quixotic to me and I'd get a headache after a while. But whatever works for you.

    I am off for a week in Vancouver visiting a friend who completed her transition several years ago and I assure you since I am not bringing any guy clothes it will women's restrooms exclusively. Hopefully everyone will be OK with a hulking 67 yo granny in their midst.

    Molly

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    1. Hi Molly,

      Thanks for your comments. What is happening to your Hobby Lobby friend sounds dreadful, and I agree that unisex cubicles with complete divisions between them are the answer to everyone's concerns.

      As with women, there are probably plenty of men who would not feel threatened by a crossdresser in the men's room. Instead of anger and outrage, they might deal with it with humour or amusement.

      I had not heard of women being forced to use the men's room in large numbers due to circumstances, but this sounds like a perfect example of pragmatism trumping dogmatism.

      In terms of the radical feminists, I think some of them have a point to make, even though I wish they would perhaps make it more politely. If each group considers the other to be nothing but single-minded idiots, then no progress can possibly be made.

      Vivienne.

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  2. Vivienne,

    Great subject and I like a lot of the points made. Personally, I find the whole concept of male or female exclusive rest rooms a bit absurd. In my mind that concept is a throwback to a more prudish era. I guess we aren't as liberated as we think we are. I also find it infuriating that anti-trans folks choose to use bathroom sovereignty as a supporting argument for their intolerance.

    I do have to admit that as a public crossdresser I do stress over where I am going to go to the bathroom when the need arises. You see, I do worry about the feelings of others and in spite of the reason behind someone's discomfort over me, a crossdresser, using the restroom, I don't want my presence to cause another to be uncomfortable. Sometimes, I plan my outings around the need to use the bathroom. If the need arises suddenly, however, I carefully evaluate the bathroom situation before I choose which one to use. Generally, I always use the ladies room but I try to be quick and unassuming if I do go in.

    I wish the bathroom issue wasn't so complex but when you are like me and do care for the feelings of others, it makes the decision about bathroom use difficult.

    Hugs,

    Sally

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    1. Thanks Sally. It sounds like we are very much on the same page here.

      Vivienne.

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  3. Hi Vivienne,
    I am a CD that has been out for over 8 years. I have frequented gay and straight restaurants and bars. I believe your thoughts having not been faced with the issue firsthand seem hypocritical. Tolerance is NEVER a privilege.

    Having a drivers license is a privilege not being treated with common decency, that is everyone's right.

    Dani

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    1. Hi Dani,

      Many thanks for taking the trouble to post your comment. Whilst I think you have a very good point, I am going to put my Ethics hat on here.

      Most people talk about rights as if they were a one-way thing: I have a right to this; I have a right to that. The problem is that, if we accept that everyone is equal, occasionally two sets of "rights" conflict with each other.

      For example, someone might say that it's "common decency" for crossdressing males not to use women's public bathrooms. Or that you should be "tolerant" of a woman's desire that you don't enter. Exactly the same language can be used in each case.

      I am not saying you don't have a point. I am just saying that not everyone would agree with it. My own viewpoint is based on what I consider to be the ethics of this situation, though I accept that there are other ways to look at it.

      Vivienne.

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  4. Sally,

    While I agree in general that gender-nonspecific restrooms would resolve many of these issues, I have a few reservations...

    1) I also agree with Vivienne that women should have a safe "girls only" sanctuary. Sadly there ARE enough predators -- and it's nearly always males targeting females -- and I have no doubt in my mind a coed restroom would give them the idea that it's open season on women in partial states of undress.
    1b) And related to that, this is also why women distrust transwomen invading their territory. For all I know there have never been any proven cases where a man donned a dress just for the sake of gaining access to a peeping tom's paradise, I can't blame them for expecting it, and wanting to be protected from such men. Understand, most of society outside of LGBT (now there's an enormous umbrella for you) see all variations from standard heterosexual rigid cultural gender roles as one big pile of perversion. Crossdressers, transsexuals, gays, furries, pedophiles... to them, we're all the same and any one of us is likely to take any opportunity to jump out at them and start rubbing parts of us up against parts of them in a very intimate way. Molly, I absolutely agree this prejudice is completely unreasonable but it's a sad fact.

    2) Any trans{whatever} who doesn't fully pass as a culturally acceptable person appearing and dressing as a single sex is going to risk physical violence anywhere that they are likely to come into close contact with men, whether that's a men-only or a coed restroom.

    Consider this: Our society has come a long way in accepting homosexuality, and for the most part a gay man can walk into a restroom without incident -- but I submit to you, that's only because he doesn't wear his sexual orientation on his sleeve. If he were to enter exhibiting all the exaggerated stereotypes -- minced walk, makeup, girlish talk with ridiculous lisp, flamboyant clothes -- he wouldn't receive such a warm welcome into the men's club.

    Unlike a homosexual whose difference from mainstream society isn't so visible, crossdressers by our very nature DO throw our differences right out there into the open. Well, those of you who aren't afraid to set foot outside your door. Not so much for me, but you get the idea.

    This has turned into a disjointed stream-of-consciousness reply so I'd better stop before I completely lose whatever direction I was trying to take it.

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    1. Thanks for your stream of consciousness, Ralph!

      I am glad you see this point of view. I think women have a genuine cause for concern. I hope that concern is exaggerated; I believe it to be so; but I cannot be sure, and it's likely that the risk varies from place to place. I like to think most of us wouldn't dream of harming a woman, in a bathroom or otherwise, but there may be a few bad apples out there.

      I refer you to my comments above to Molly: not all men would react with violence to a crossdresser in the men's room, but I agree that the number who would is uncomfortably high.

      Vivienne.

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  5. Ralph and Vivienne,

    I wish I could argue against your point of view but I guess the world can still be a scary place for women. (Really, I'm not that naive) I wish it wasn't so but you both are dealing in reality I know. So, I concede your point that women should have a safe haven when using the bathroom. It does concern me though that this point of view tends to dilute the power of our argument that trans women and most especially crossdressers are never a threat to women in the ladies room. If we argue that women need their privacy than how can we also argue it is okay for a crossdresser to use the ladies restroom? Most of us are men with no intent to transition and is it a strong enough argument for us using the ladies room to state that because we are crossdressers we are different and in no way a threat to women? Of course I know that to be true as do most other crossdressers but we aren't the ones in need of convincing.

    Hugs,

    Sally

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    1. Hi Sally,

      I think things will gradually change. I think that public crossdressing is becoming commoner, and as it does so, hopefully the example set by the great majority (polite, restrained, non-threatening) will come to dominate people's perceptions of how crossdressers behave in the women's bathroom.

      Building trust takes time and persistence. Let's hope that one or two bad apples don't ruin it for everyone else.

      Vivienne.

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  6. I found myself being bounced around as I read one thought after another. First some trans/CD women are convincing enough that the issue never arises. Others, like myself, are presentable enough for it not to be an issue (act and talk like a woman) Then I got to wondering about draq queens as they are caricatures of women. I wonder if we are not overstating the problem for the everyday woman (see http://www.quora.com/Women/How-do-women-feel-about-drag-queens-using-female-bathrooms). These arguments seem to be coming from radical feminists, conservative politicians and religious extremists who would deny women many rights and transphobic and homophobic attitudes are common among them.

    There's probably some credibility to the point that some women would be uncomfortable but not say anything.My wife would be among that group but then she can't pee unless she has rapport with the bathroom and CDs might be one among many reasons.

    Without a doubt, trans people are becoming more acceptable particularly as states enact laws to protect them. Our younger generations (under 40) seem to have far fewer issues with trans women then those of us of a more mature age. And when you get extremist corporations like Hobby Lobby, well then we need to support boycotting of those firms and pursue legal actions through our legislators

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    1. Hi Tasi,

      I read the thread on Quora and was encouraged by how relaxed all the women were about this issue. On the other hand, I was not thrilled at the terminology. If I get dressed and go to a women's public bathroom, I don't consider myself a "drag queen" and probably neither would you. The way I read it, it seemed to lump all male to female trans people together under that one term.

      The times, they are a-changing. I always thought that would make a great line for a song.

      Vivienne.

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  7. Many good points. I see my time out and about while dressed as a privilege and the last thing that I want to do is to make others, especially women, feel uncomfortable in my presence. I do not live in fool's paradise and understand that a 6'2", 250 lb man, regardless of attire, can be intimidating to some. When wearing heels and dressed as a woman I do not want others to feel misplaced.

    While the comments above are all rather on point one concept that plays in my mind is the degree of T-ness the individual person may feel. You touched on it a bit in your post when you noted that for some their use of the ladies room is a component of feminine affirmation but I am one of those who sees themselves as a crossdresser who enjoys getting out and about but I do not loss my sense of my male gender by being attired in a dress and heels. Since I do not readily pass I have found my most safe havens in primarily LGBT places. If the ladies room is empty or relative so I will often go there but if I get a sense that there are women in the ladies room who may be uncomfortable with my presence I will go to the men's room. I actually find it liberating to be standing in a line of guys at the urinals lifting my dress and doing my business.

    Pat

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    1. Many thanks for posting your thoughts, Pat. Are you serious that you just hike up the skirt and pee along with the guys?? If so, I congratulate your bravery (and your consideration for the women)!

      Vivienne.

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  8. What about a CD going into a women's restroom with a genetic female friend? I'd think that would very much decrease the perceived threat (given the CDer does not fully pass), but i'm curious what you think.

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    1. Hi Danny. I would completely agree that the presence of a genetic female companion would substantially reduce any perceived threat from a crossdresser in the women's bathroom. But Victoria Askey's comments seem to suggest that it wouldn't be completely eliminated.

      In addition, supportive female companions to visit the bathroom with are pretty thin on the ground, or so I understand.

      Vivienne.

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    2. Thanks for your response. I'm not sure that they are thin on the ground, most of my friends seem to be willing. Maybe its just my generation (i'm 22), or maybe I just picked good friends, or got lucky. This is just in theory though, my outings haven't been long enough yet where this would be an issue. Blog posts like this are helpful because i'm trying to gather as many perspectives as I can on this issue. I've felt in danger before and it's no fun, I certainly would want to try my best to avoid imposing that feeling on anyone else.

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    3. Hi Danny. I get the impression that the "younger generation" is more relaxed about crossdressing than some older people are. I think that the consensus seems to be "crossdressing is cool-- provided it isn't my dad who's doing it"! Mind you, you may also have picked some tolerant friends.

      Overall, I commend your attitude, and it certainly seems as if you are approaching the whole thing responsibly. Good luck!

      Vivienne.

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  9. Just no. Most Crossdressers are heterosexual males, and as someone who works at a sexual rehabilitation center, are known to have quite tragic backgrounds. I haven't met a crossdresser who doesn't have an enthusiastic desire for women. Like most men, he's a man, that likes women. Simply put, men should not be allowed in the women's only spaces.

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    1. I am grateful to you for your honest and heartfelt post. The purpose of this blog post was to open a debate, and to consider views from all angles.

      I would say, however, that perhaps working in a sexual rehabilitation centre, the people that you see are the ones who have a problem, and perhaps some truly are a threat to women. I certainly accept those people exist, but I do not think they are the norm, nor even the majority. Would you accept that some crossdressers have no harmful intent towards women?

      And where should male-to-female crossdressers go when they need to visit a public bathroom? If your answer is "the men's room", would you accept that it may be threatening or even dangerous for them to do so?

      (Please sign your post with some sort of name to differentiate you from other anonymous posters). I would be grateful if you would continue the debate a bit longer.

      Vivienne.

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  10. I'm afraid that, as an M2F pre-op TS (and thus not a CD), I disagree with some of the commentary made.

    Living in the UK, I am slightly surprised at Victoria's comments. I have been to the ladies LOADS of times and never had any bother - if one is honestly presenting as a woman, why would one do anything other than go to the ladies? Perhaps this is the difference between a CD and a TS? I consider my inner-gender is female, I dress in a blend-in manner that represents this gender, and I do everything as well as I can behaviourally to present as a woman too... and naturally for me this includes going to the toilet, where I never hesitate to use the ladies - I just go in there for the purpose intended, do so in my own time, wash/dry my hands, and then check my hair/make up like any other woman.

    Ralph says "Crossdressers, transsexuals, gays, furries, pedophiles... to them, we're all the same..." - this seems a very generalist point-of-view... and isn't this a reason in itself to challenge such misconceptions, should they exist? How will the world's tolerance for TG people ever improve if we continue to shy away from being able to live in a manner befitting of our presenting gender? That is my view as a TS M2F. Maybe it is different for a CD...?

    When I am having to present as male, I avoid using male toilets and use disabled instead because I cannot stand the thought of using a toilet where the designated gender is one that I do not relate to.

    I find the post of "Anonymous" very conservative... and I wonder if it would extend to a TS woman too? If I ever met that person, then I would be one to admit that, as a TS and not a CD, I no longer have any desire for women and in fact am wondering if my sexuality is starting to shift towards one which is heterosexual with respect to my inner gender... but perhaps such a state would be too much for them to contemplate.

    ...and perhaps I will reveal myself as conservative by stating that I find the whole idea of a woman standing up to pee quite absurd... and, as such, I have not done so for years.

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    1. Hi Andrea,

      Victoria's spouse Treva is now living permanently as a woman. You can see more of their story in my interview with them on this blog. I admit it seems surprising that they would meet hostility: I am sure that Treva, accompanied by Victoria, would normally be tolerated in a public bathroom. Nonetheless, Victoria's account has the ring of truth about it, and she has no reason to exaggerate.

      One of the themes of this blog is that there is no intrinsic difference between most CDs and most TSs. I am a lumper, not a splitter.

      I think that viewpoints such as that of "Anonymous" carry an unspoken accusation which is without foundation for the vast majority of us. On the other hand, Ralph may be right that "ordinary" people tend to lump us all together anyway, but I tend to agree with you that the way forward is to challenge this misconception with politeness and courage. Otherwise things will never change.

      Thanks for dropping by to post your comments.

      Vivienne.

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  11. Well, as an out and about crossdresser who thinks as themself as dual-gendered, I don't think nor act male when dressed and frankly am offended by those that would consider me as such. CD, TS, gay, pedophiles.all the same. Come on, give me a break. What planet are you from as your font of knowledge certainly doesn't reflect reality. Do you hide behind that Anonymous name because you can't defend. your position but prefer to just rant like the TERPS.

    Andrea, the differences between us as you know are somewhat grey and often life choices preclude us from being all that we could be. To me family is important enough that full time was never an alternative nor were my inner feeling so great that resolution was possible with being a part-time girl. I've talked about devices where a girl could pee standing, but seriously, it was in the humor section

    There's always a first time, but I've never had any bad experiences using the ladies room. You know the axiom: look like a duck, act like a duck, must be a duck :)

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    1. Hi Tasi,

      I'm not quite sure about your first paragraph. I think Ralph has a point about unaware people lumping us all together. I think that view may be more prevalent in some areas than others.

      Ralph wasn't posting anonymously, but there was an anonymous poster with a challenging viewpoint.

      Although the replies section here is not a true cross-section of society, it seems the number of people who have never experienced a problem seems to outweigh those who have, or express discomfort.

      Vivienne.

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    2. Vivienne,

      You asked me about TERPs. My error, should have been TERFs. A good reference is here http://www.transadvocate.com/intro-to-the-sexing-the-body-is-gender-series_n_14019.htm#sthash.JOG8KmX4.dpuf

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    3. Thanks Tasi. I didn't know what a TERP was but I came across TERF when I was trying to find out, and figured out that was what you intended.

      Vivienne.

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  12. Thank you Tasi!

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  13. Maybe we need three restrooms: male, female, trans. Or if there is only one stall, make it for anyone.

    On the other hand, I know people who went to Europe in the 1950s who said that there was often just one restroom for everyone. Since the Americans on this tour are used to separate sex bathrooms, the men allowed the women to go first.

    So on the one hand it doesn't seem like it has to be a huge deal. On the other hand, I can imagine some safety worries.

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    1. I think the solution is a series of unisex cubicles. I personally prefer the privacy of a cubicle anyway. I am not much of a traveller but I am always horrified in Europe to find the cubicle without the toilet bowl! The two footrests and the hole in the floor seems positively mediaeval. However, the Europeans claim it's more hygienic since you are not putting your bare bottom on the same surface as a load of strangers. (Instead you are supposed to somehow hover in midair while you conduct your business?)

      As you say, it doesn't have to be a big deal, but for some people, that's exactly what it is.

      Vivienne.

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  14. The "Whole Bathroom" thing is actually not a problem!

    I belong to several Trans groups and have not had an issue in any club yet. If there is a question on a new venue for the evening we have asked prior to arrival what the manager on duty expects to the ladies restrooms.
    As being part time transgendered patrons we all know how to act, some of our members are full time and we usually go in pairs like most girls do.

    This topic came about in the news as a way to harbor I'll will to the Trans community as we started to express ourselves more openly in public. Most visible was when we as a community wanted to add Gender Identity to the protected classes.

    If a person is to going to harm another, it's not because their Trans, it's because their disturbed and being in a restroom is not the real issue.

    I actually believe there is no law stopping someone from using any restroom by either sex? Is there a federal law anyone can quote?

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    1. Thanks Dani. I am not sure the manager would be the one who would feel uncomfortable; after all, the venue will likely profit from your custom. But I am sure you are right, that when you act with consideration and circumspection, there is no problem.

      I agree that the likelihood of someone harming someone else is not related to whether they are trans or not, but I think there is a public perception that this is the case. I think there is a tendency to fear the new and the unusual: the antidote to this fear is for trans people to become commonplace.

      Interesting question about the law. I don't have any answers, either in the US or outside it, but would love to hear from anyone who knows.

      Vivienne.

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