Now that I’ve made my ebook “Who Cares? Life for an Irish Transgender Teen” free to the public (you can download the full thing here), I’ve decided to publish the chapters here on my website. Below is a chapter from this book which was published in April 2016.
Something that I don’t admit very often is that bathrooms are an issue for me. It seems obvious but I still don’t talk about it that much. I don’t feel anxious very often but the bathroom is one rare moment when I do. Walking through the door I have no idea who’s going to be on the other side. Will they just keep going about their business? Will they stare at me? Will they laugh? Will they say something rude? I’ve had all of these things happen to me. Most of the time I can laugh about it. I laugh when an old man tells me that “this is the boy’s bathroom.” I laugh when I’m standing at the sink and a man comes in only to see me, apologise and walk out. I laugh when someone looks me up and down or when they ask whether I’m a boy or a girl. I especially laugh when someone sees me while they are standing at a urinal and immediately shields their penis as if I get my kicks entering the bathroom purely to catch a glimpse of their penis urinating. I laugh because it’s useless to get annoyed or upset about it. Most of the time, I tell my friends about it later and we all laugh together. I have to say, the embarrassing experiences have reduced since I moved to the city because people there are more used to diversity.
My game plan is simple. Take a deep breath, duck my head, walk briskly into a cubicle, do the do, quickly wash my hands, (as far as I can see one of the few times a sink actually gets used in a men’s bathroom. That’s right, I’ve seen many people leave without washing their hands and without shame) and leave hoping that no one notices me. I have the bored, seemingly uncaring, distracted look mastered that makes me seem as if I’m ignoring anyone who’s staring at me, but my poor little brain can’t help but notice people watching. This all usually works perfectly and I can escape unscathed. At times, the bathroom is empty. I’m actually pathetic enough to try and judge a time when I think it’s unlikely for people to be there. For the record, because I know there are people who care about such mundane details, I do not use the urinals as they freak me out, I use cubicles and I sit down. Unless the place is disgusting because there has to be some advantage to having an unwanted penis.
When I was in secondary school, Physical Education was a dreadful thing. Not only because I was seriously bored by P.E, but because we had to change into tracksuits. The changing rooms were obviously an issue. I felt really, really uncomfortable changing in with the boys. As I’ve said they were an alien breed to me. Creatures who thought it was funny to make jokes about being attracted to one another’s naked bodies and to slap one another’s bare body parts (shudder). For the most part they left me alone. I locked myself into one of the shower stalls and got changed privately. Then, as quick as I could, I walked past them without glancing at any of them. Contrary to popular belief it’s not a fun experience to be in a room with members of the opposite sex (kind of) while they get changed. It’s awkward and extremely uncomfortable. Especially when they are short, pubescent and immature.
One day I expressed this issue to my friends. They suggested that I change in the wheelchair suitable changing room between the two others. I tried this occasionally but people were annoying about it. They’d turn off the lights and mess with the door handles while I was trying to change in there. It wasn’t always open and sometimes the lights wouldn’t work. It was all very inconvenient really. My friends then just told me to change in with them. After thinking about it I decided I would. I began getting changed in the girl’s dressing room. This suited me a lot better. The conversation made sense to me while we all went into our separate cubicles to change. We were a small group and no one had any objections as we all knew one another. It went this way for a few years until one day I was spotted coming out of the girl’s room. My P.E teacher took me aside and was very reasonable when he asked me not to change in there anymore. He said he didn’t mind me changing in the middle bathroom. For a while I did, until one day it was locked. I returned to the girl’s room.
I was spotted a second time a few months later and was given an official school detention. A female teacher sat down to explain to me why I couldn’t change in the girl’s dressing room. Honestly, they handled it very fairly and considerately and I agreed with them. I understood why I wasn’t allowed to and I didn’t oppose the rule.
I disobeyed it nevertheless, for my own comfort and my own happiness. Even after this official detention and this talk I continued to change in the girl’s bathroom. My parents never found out as I miraculously managed to hide the trouble I’d gotten in from them. Looking back I laugh about this time and I don’t regret my decision. Who cares?
There have been times when I’ve felt unsafe in bathrooms, especially if people have been drinking. I’ve been crowded around by groups of boys. I’ve had disgusting things shouted at me. I was once chased out of a bathroom. I have to admit, that was terrifying. Back in school the students would occasionally make fun of me in the bathrooms, until I silenced them with one of my signature death stares. When I’m in clubs and bars I use the women’s bathroom with my friends. There is usually no issue with this from anyone in there. Women generally realise that it doesn’t really matter who’s in the bathroom with you, as long as they are clean. Pretty soon I’ll start using women’s bathrooms full time, but for now I don’t really feel comfortable in either bathroom. I hope in the future that people stop caring about other people’s bathroom habits. I hope that men leave the feminine looking boy alone and women understand that he feels more comfortable in their bathroom. After all, who cares?
Watch how I deal with harassment below:
Read a post about opinions here.