Transgender Men Forgotten in the Bathroom Debate

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Photo by Tom Rogerson on Unsplash

For several years now, the debate about whether transgender women have the right to use public women’s bathrooms has raged on. However, when people argue so vehemently for transgender women to use the bathroom that matches their birth sex, they often completely ignore the existence of transgender men.

Transgender Men Exist, Too!

While everyone is freaking out about transgender women invading women’s spaces, as if they were some kind of collective predator, they all but ignore the existence of transgender men. Why? They view us the same way they view our transgender sisters, as our biological birth sex, rather than by the gender we identify and present as. Since they view transgender men as merely confused women, we don’t seem like a threat to them. If we try to change that perception, that’s when we are liable to be attacked or even murdered.

Some days it feels as if the only way for transgender people to be truly safe in our current society is to pass and keep our mouths shut. As long as we look the right way, act the right way, and conform to all those outdated gender stereotypes that feminists are always railing against, then maybe we stand a chance of passing. Our detractors would be happy for us to melt back into the woodwork, keeping to ourselves and keeping quiet.

They’d be even happier if we just admitted that we’re all sick in the head. If we would just spend more time in therapy — or better yet conversion therapy — we’d see the error of our ways and embrace our biological sex. Then we can be as gender non-conforming as we want, as long as we don’t try to pretend that our gender is the opposite of our birth sex.

It’s this shortsighted attitude that has kept a lot of transgender people closeted or stealth for millennia. However, enough of us are tired of hiding. We are tired of trying to either be miserable in our own skins or transitioning and living in fear of being found out.

Are Transgender Men Safe in Men’s Bathrooms?

Would a transgender man be safe using the men’s bathroom? What if he’s in a state where it’s technically illegal for him to do so? Should he risk it anyway?

I’m lucky enough to live in a progressive area where generally LGBTQ people, including those of us who are trans, are at least tolerated, if not fully accepted. I’ve managed to use the men’s room without people looking twice or asking questions. Yes, I still use a stall and sit down to pee. I’m lazy, and I wouldn’t want to pee standing up, even if I could. So far that hasn’t garnered me any unwanted attention.

However, if I were to travel to a more conservative area, would I run into men who do pay attention to such nuances. If I were found out, would I be safe? This is an ever-present question in my mind and makes me hesitate to travel.

Would Transgender Men Be Welcome in Women’s Bathrooms?

What would happen if all transgender people were forced to use the gendered bathroom that matched their biological birth sex? Besides forcing transgender women into using the men’s room, that would also mean forcing transgender men to use the women’s. What would you say if you saw someone who looked like a muscular, bearded man walk into the women’s room?

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Laith Ashley photographed by Oxygen Media

I’m fairly certain most women would not appreciate someone who looks like a man entering their bathroom. If a cisgender man saw what looked like another man going into the women’s room, especially if their daughter, girlfriend, or mom was in there, I know he would try to stop them.

If transgender men look too masculine to use the women’s room, and we’re legally forced out of the men’s room, where would you suggest we go to relieve ourselves then? As transgender men, we just want to exist and live our lives, without having to hide, without having to fear, and by being able to use the toilet safely when we need to urinate.

Is that really so much to ask?

Written by

Transgender writer and author. Posting weekly on a variety of LGBTQ and health related topics.

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