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Which Restroom To Use

One of the issues that many transgender individuals face concerns restrooms. If you are a male-to-female crossdresser, do you use the Ladies' washroom or the Men's washroom?

The first concern - always - is one of safety. If you really feel that you would not be safe in either of the restrooms, then you are in the wrong place to begin with. Get out fast, even if that means peeing behind a bush in the snow. If safety is not an issue, but you want to avoid a scene or embarrassment (both understandable), then you might consider which choice is the lesser of two evils. First consider what, if anything, is likely to happen if you use the "wrong room." If you are in a public place en femme such as a restaurant, bar, or club, and people treat you as a woman, then it is unlikely that people will make much of an issue of you using one bathroom over the other.

The "best" choice is often to use the uni-sex bathroom, if one is available. No one could argue that you should use that. Unfortunately, most public places don't offer uni-sex lavatories.

Some places will offer a "family-friendly washroom" where either gender is welcome. These lavatories are there for parents of small children and therefore, you can expect small children to use them. Kids can be a problem because they are often brutally honest and frequently lack tact. It is usually hard to pass with small kids and if they have been known to ask their parents in a loud booming voice "Mommy, why is that man dressed up like a lady?" My advice is generally avoid a family friendly washroom unless there is little chance of children using it, such as when it is late at night or when the establishment has few patrons.

When your only choices are the Mens room or the Womans room, it may be a simple judgment call. Other times, it may be a matter of doing what you are told.

I have attended several transgender events where it was asked of the guests to "match the plumbing with the plumbing." In other words, "Regardless of how you are dressed, if you have a penis then use the Mens room and if you have a vagina then please use the Womans room." In these situations, I was told which restroom to use, so there were little issues.

One time, I was attending a function at a hotel where a wedding reception was taking place as well. A few of us gals were in the Mens room as requested when an elderly gentleman in a tuxedo came strolling in. When he saw three girls at the mirror fixing their make up, his immediate reaction was that of embarrassment. It was obvious that he assumed that he walked into the wrong restroom. He turned around, opened the door and looked at the sign labeled "MEN." He shrugged and muttered something like "Well, how about that…" and politely walked right by us and into a stall. My point here is that many people are polite and will not make much of an issue.

If you have not been told which restroom to use, you can always ask. Just ask one of the help "Can you direct me to a restroom for me to use?" If they point you to the ladies room, then you have your answer. No one can fault you for using the bathroom the staff told you to use. This approach works well in department stores when you want to try something on but you are uncertain of which dressing room to go into.

If you are in a public place and you need to make the decision on your own, there are a few things worth considering. First, if you are 100% passable, then you should use the Ladies room. Being passable, if you used the Mens room then it would be no different than a genetic woman using the Mens room. Most men wouldn't make a big deal about it, but it probably would raise a few eyebrows and make some doubt that you are a genetic woman.

If you are like me and the vast majority of transgender gals who are not on hormones, had facial surgery, or breast augmentation, then you are not 100% passable. The next question is "Just how passable are you?" If you are passable enough then most people will have enough doubts in their mind that they will not say or do anything.

Being "passable" is not always the best way to think of this. A better way might be "blend-able." How well do you blend in with the rest of the crowd. Sure, a gal may be very passable in the right context or situation, but that same girl may stick out like a sore thumb in a different environment. Going for a hamburger at Mc Donald's in a prom gown will attract scrutiny and make it hard to pass. If you blend in with others, then your ability to pass is greater.

Let's assume that after an honest assessment of your ability to pass well enough, you admit to yourself that you don't pass very well at all. Now what do you do?

As was mentioned earlier, safety should be your top priority. Assuming that safety is not much of an issue, consider what the chance is of causing a disruption. If the restrooms are single occupant only, then the choice is easier since you can get in, lock the door and slip out when you are done. If the bathroom is likely to have others in it when you use it, you have to judge the people there. Are you less likely to cause a problem by admitting that you are a guy in a dress by using the Mens room or are you less likely to cause a problem being using the Womans room and therefore seen as some sort of pervert?

To me, the choice is a difference between being comfortable with yourself or making others feel comfortable. When in serious doubt, I use the Mens room. Why? If I am seen as a guy in a dress, then am I making anyone feel threatened by using the Mens room? Of course not. If I am seen as a guy in a dress, then am I making anyone feel threatened by using the Womans room? Perhaps. I can't make people feel one way or another about gender without a chance to talk with them for a while - and that isn't likely to happen with a stranger in a public restroom. If I am in the Mens room, then any discomfort will likely be in me. If I am in the Ladies room, then some women who do not understand about gender issues may misunderstand me and think that I am some sort of pervert and therefore they may be fearful. In short, if I do not feel that am not very passable and I use the Men's room, then the discomfort is pretty much only with me. If I am not passable and I use the Ladies room, then the discomfort may very well be with the others using the same restroom. Generally, the most considerate action is for me to use the Men's room.

On a final note about which bathroom to use, consider that there is no law against a man wearing a dress (at least none that I am aware of in the United States) but there may be local ordinances concerning indecency for a man (regardless how they are dressed) to use a woman's restroom.