Last weekend I went with my mum to visit my sister at uni. On the way we stopped at a supermarket to pick up some shopping for her because she’s ill and hadn’t been out to get food in a while. As a general rule I try to avoid public bathrooms because it gives me so much anxiety but there was no way I was going to make it to my sister’s so I didn’t have much of a choice in the situation.
Heading towards the toilets, the disabled cubicle was on my right, female toilets in front of me and male to the left. I almost went into the disabled one, but I have only done that once and felt so guilty because there may have been someone who actually needed it waiting so I hovered between the male and female for a couple of seconds, trying to decide which was less intimidating.
I darted into the women’s bathroom in the end, grateful that there was nobody in there. While I was in the cubicle though a lady and her young daughter came in. I waited until what I thought were two doors shutting so there’d be nobody to see me as I left, but when I emerged the daughter was standing against the sinks instead of in a cubicle. She stopped talking to her mum when she saw me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her look at me for a couple of seconds before sliding away from me to stand at the other end of the bathroom.
I decided not to dry my hands, that I just wanted to get out of there, but as I went to leave the door opened in front of me and the lady coming in just froze in the doorway looking at me. I hate that look. The expression that’s a mixture of shock and disgust. The almost glare as they try to figure out why I’m in their space. The confusion as they wonder if maybe they’ve made a mistake.
My main problem is that I encounter this kind of situation almost every time I use the women’s, but women (on the whole) tend to read me as male more often than guys do. Also, I’ve never used the men’s room so the idea is terrifying because I don’t know what to expect, and I don’t feel fully like a guy so I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of going in there. I feel like it might be the better option though. That or using the disabled loo, but that feels wrong.
I hate gendered bathrooms.