Friday, February 22, 2008

Transgender Restroom Etiquette

With the "Transgender Rights and Hate Crimes Bill" (H1722) waiting in the wings at the Mass. State House, we should all prepare for the upcoming revolution in our public restrooms. So we bring you these excerpts from "Peeing in Peace" -- a transgender guide to bathroom activism, published by the Transgender Law Center. Don't miss the "DJ Knows Dick Pissin’ Passin’ Packer" -- a "stand-to-pee" device for women who want to use the men's room, but don't want anyone to notice they're sitting to pee inside their stall.

How weird is this getting? Will Massachusetts really enact a law to encourage this? Soon "stand-to-pee devices" may be covered by your company's medical benefits! From "Peeing in Peace":

Strategy #1: Learn the Gender Code
Gender stereotypes are heightened in the bathroom. Therefore, sometimes the easiest way to use the bathroom is to understand these gender stereotypes, even if you find them uncomfortable or problematic. Here is some information that might help you get by until we can create safer restrooms. (Please keep inmind that this information is necessarily stereotypical and that we are including it here not because it is the way things should be, but because it is the way things currently are.):

The women’s room:
The women’s bathroom is a social space. People tend to have conversations between stalls, at the sinks, and while in line. People in the women’s room often bring in children of all genders in order to help them. It is generally a friendly place (for those who “belong”) where people are not afraid to look at each other and smile or chat. In this bathroom, folks tend to wait in line along the walls of the bathroom, away from the stalls. Often people will spend time at the sink or mirror.

The men’s room:
This is not a social space. Nobody talks or makes eye contact with anyone else. People don’t stand next to each other at urinals unless they are all filled. Usually folks in the men’s room stand in line in the middle of the bathroom. If you need a stall and there are none, pretend you just came in to wash your hands. Don’t feel out of place for using a stall. People who use the men’s room sit down sometimes too and will use a stall whether or not the urinals are full. If you need to sit down to pee and are worried that someone will notice, try using a can lid or medicine spoon to stand. You can also try one of the various stand-to-pee devices, such as the Mango product or the DJ Knows Dick Pissin’ Passin’ Packer, available at stores and online.

Strategy #2: Confidence
Using gender segregated bathrooms may be nerve-wracking at times but it is important that you realize you have a right to be there, no matter how other people react to you. You belong in the bathroom thatmakes you feel most comfortable as much as anyone else does. Being confident lets other people knowmthat as well. If you are feeling nervous when entering a bathroom, take a deep breath and remind yourself that there’s nothing wrong with you and that you have the right to be there as much as anyone else does. If necessary, keep taking deep breaths and repeat the phrase, “I belong here” in your mind while you are in the bathroom.