As a nonbinary trans individual, I am plagued by the bathroom wars that are going on in the South, partly because I personally struggle with the decision of which restroom to use. Do I go to the ladies' room despite not passing as female and risk getting harassed? Or do I go into the men's restroom and risk getting harassed because I lack a penis and don't look enough like a guy due to my soft facial features?
Back and forth. Do I or don't I? Am I safe or should I hold it until I get home, which probably won't work and lead to me peeing my pants in public? Should I take that chance, though?
Despite not feeling safe, more often than not, I decide to go to the ladies' room because I don't want a man at the urinal asking me if I want to suck his dick while pee is flowing out of it.
One brave day, when I was with someone I trusted, I went into the men's room. Walking in with confidence, I took note that there were no men in sight, which gave me a relief, because that meant there was a much slimmer chance of someone confronting me. It completely slipped my mind that someone could come in after we did.
A sigh escaped as I walked to a stall, and my friend walked to the stall next to mine. There was a strange comfort in seeing his shoes. It was as if I was safe as long as I could see them. They were Converse, like mine.
Just as anyone else would, I pulled my pants down and did my business. While sitting on the porcelain throne, I took note of my clothes. A DC hat adorned my head, skinny jeans hugged my ankles, and I was wearing a t-shirt over my chest binder. Maybe, I was actually passing as a guy...
Apparently, my friend had more business to do than I did because when I pulled up my pants, flushed the toilet, and stepped out of the stall, I didn't notice that he was still in his.
Part of me wants to believe that using the men's room came so natural that I didn't pay attention to his feet still being planted firmly behind the door of the stall. But deep down, I don't think I was honestly that comfortable. I believe it was simply a need to get out of the restroom because I don't feel comfortable in any restroom — men's or women's. Being so caught up in wondering if I passed, I fell into my habit of doing my business, washing my hands, and making a mad dash for the door.
As I walked to the sink, I didn't pay much mind to the man at the urinal.
"You want to suck my dick?" His voice was shaking from trying to hold back a laugh.
I looked his way, astonished. Who was he and why was he making a remark like that, especially to a complete stranger?
Like a fool, I looked around, making sure he wasn't talking to someone else that perhaps I hadn't noticed. Then I asked, "What?"
"You're in the men's restroom, so you must be a prostitute," he said. "I'll give you $5 to suck my dick."
The nerve of this man.
But more than anything, the nerves I had. Because in that moment, I wanted to run. Yet my feet wouldn't move. I was frozen in fear, my heart beating a million miles an hour, and I couldn't do anything but stand there.
Was this man going to attack me? Was he going to rape me? Or was he just going to stand there and bully me?
The sound of a toilet flushing was never as relaxing as it was in that moment. My friend walked out of that stall like a knight in shining armour. His hand pressed against my back and he helped my body to remember how to move, rushing me out of what the man at the urinal seemed to think was a brothel, and to safety.
If I had been more myself, I would have come back at him with a smart remark. Honey, if I was a prostitute, it would take a lot more than $5 for me to suck a dick as ugly as yours. That was the first comeback I thought of after reaching safety. And oh, how I wish I would have had the guts to say it to him!
But I'm also glad I didn't because there is no way of knowing what that man would have done.
How he even deduced that I didn't belong is beyond me. I thought I passed as a man, or at least as a 12-year-old boy — as someone who appeared to others to belong in that bathroom. Maybe it was me clearing my throat once I walked out of the stall. Or maybe he could see my chest binder. Or maybe, my facial features are just too soft to pass. No matter how I dress, how I style my hair, people see my face, and they automatically see a girl. Sometimes, they may question if I am a young boy or a teenage girl, but most of the time they settle on girl. However, although I was born a female, I do not identify myself that way. Being nonbinary, I identify as neither male nor female, or both.
The one thing I know is that I was utterly afraid.
Since then, I have had a very hard time going to the men's room without feeling an overwhelming need to pass as a male, something I fear I will never be able to do.