Life often delivers unique challenges to androgynous and masculine-presenting female-identified individuals. To be different is to be made uncomfortable, and to make others uncomfortable. This is a fact that most everyone who lives outside of society’s dumb dumb norms must face at one point or another. This truth is felt at different times and different places for me, but nowhere more acutely or as often as in the women’s bathroom.
I have very much lost count of the number of sideways glances, glares, comments, and beams of negative energy I’ve encountered while answering the call of nature. Standing 5’10” with short hair and clothing bought exclusively in the men’s section, I am a lady that scares other ladies in the restroom. I don’t hurt anyone. I mind my business. I usually don’t hiss at people. But still my presence elicits a negative reaction a high percentage of the time.
In order to avoid negative encounters, like the time a woman stared at me pointedly, opened the door and stared at the “Women” sign, then stared back at me; or the time a man chased me to the door yelling, “This is the women’s room!”, I have decided to write an outline for how androgynous and masculine-presenting women should act in the bathroom. Follow these steps every time. They are best for everyone.
Step 1: Act naturally because you have every right to be there. You are doing nothing wrong.
And that is all.
I don’t tend to let the opinions of others affect the way I present myself. But over time, even the most subtle negative reactions to your presence in a specific space, be they pointed double-takes in the mirror or not-very-quiet whispers to a bathroom companion, take a toll and cause you to change your behaviour. I found myself pushing my chest out before entering a restroom, taking off my hat, and even waiting outside if I heard a lot of voices within.
These reactions were subconscious for a while, but when I took stock of what I was doing, I was upset with myself. This realization drove me to write this Bathroom Etiquette outline. As much as I am lucky enough to be surrounded by supportive and loving people on a daily basis, I never really hear anyone say outright that it is okay for us to enter gendered spaces as we are. And sometimes, that is something we need to hear.
So just do you. From the time you enter the restroom to the time you leave, act as you are and no differently. Take some extra time to check yourself out in the mirror. If more feminine-presenting women can do it, so can you. And you should, because you look fabulous.