The Bathroom Project
For trans and gender diverse people using the bathroom often comes with a feeling of uncertainty - will I be welcome or could I be harassed by strangers just because I have a basic need.
Trans Pride Australia partnered with Sydney Opera House to produce The Bathroom Project for the All About Women festival on International Women's Day 2020. TPA called on our members to submit personal experiences of using public bathrooms. A selection of these quotes were featured on bathroom mirrors throughout the Sydney Opera House giving visitors to the festival a chance to learn and reflect on the experiences of trans and gender diverse people. Read the featured quotes below.
As I washed my hands a woman entered, did a number of double takes and seemed to freeze. I smiled at her directly and said “hello, do you see me as a boy?”, she nodded, still making no sound of her own. I exclaimed, YES! Left the women’s bathroom and have never returned.
It was her smile. A genuine, warm and tender encouragement, of signalled support from one woman to another. “Passing” can be life-affirming for some trans women, so I inspected my wig line and reapplied lipstick. I never thought I’d ever connect like that. In men’s bathrooms, I risked a beating. In here, there was greater belonging.
When I went full time I had the worst bathroom anxiety, at work it was fine because there was a bathroom designated as unisex/disabled that I could use but other activities were often planned around how long they would take and how much I might drink so that I could use the loo at home.
I've gradually evolved a system of avoidance of public toilets altogether.
"You cannot go in here" said the old woman in the doorway of the ladies room. My insides usually drop at a mere suspicious glance. But today, her determination was met by mine. So, I lifted up my shirt and bared my breasts to her. I was done explaining, and all I really wanted was to pee.
AJ Brown (they/them)
Early in my transition I was driving north and was desperate for a pee, the only option was a McDonalds but when I pulled up there was a group of lads hanging out outside the toilets. I was terrified. They can smell fear. But I took a deep breath, focused straight ahead and walked right past them. Trans people have to consider their safety every single time they use a public bathroom.
Using the women's bathroom I've had some women stand at the entry to bathrooms and tell others to not go in or be careful because there's a trans person in there. Imagine how hurtful that is, as if I'm someone to be careful of, when in fact my whole life I've cared for others.
My team leader told me I could not use the female toilet as some of the “normal” females might feel uncomfortable . She suggested I go down 17 floors to use the disabled toilet or go across the road to the shops...I thought I don’t have time to argue this I need to pee...I didn't make it to the toilet and ended up soiling myself.