So many issues related to people who are not heterosexual or cisgender come down to two issues: what to wear and where to pee. I’m non-binary. I was assigned female at birth (AFAB), but I had my birth certificate corrected last year. Where do I pee?
I Don’t Want to Die
My first rule for using the bathroom in public is, â€œPick the bathroom where you’re least likely to get killed.â€ That may seem funny at first, but it’s a serious issue when you look at the incidents of violence against and murders of transgender persons.
Gender Neutral Bathrooms â€œin the Wildâ€
When possible, I prefer to use a gender-neutral bathroom. When I don’t know where the bathroom is in a particular location, I’ll ask an employee, â€œWhere’s your gender-neutral bathroom?â€ to see (1) how they react to the question and (2) whether they actually have one.
At many places, the gender-neutral bathroom is also the family bathroom or bathroom for persons with disabilities. Even at the public pool, I use the family bathroom instead of a locker room to get changed.
Sometimes, using the gender-neutral bathroom is the fastest way to use the toilet because cisgender people will automatically wait in line for other bathrooms. Last year, I attended an event at Symphony Hall. During intermission, dozens of people were waiting in line for each bathroom. I asked an usher where the gender-neutral bathroom was, and they directed me to a nearby single-user bathroom with no line.
Whichever Bathroom has the Shortest Line
My general rule for situations where there is no gender-neutral bathroom and there’s no safety issue is to use whichever bathroom has the shortest line, which is usually the men’s room. I can pee standing up. Ok it’s with a shewee, but still, I can do it!
Early on after realizing I was non-binary, I reached out to a few larger venues in the Phoenix to inquire about their bathroom policies to see how accepting they were. Surprisingly, Scottsdale Fashion Square told me that I could use whichever bathroom I felt most comfortable using. The Arizona Diamondbacks said that they have few gender-neutral bathrooms and those were the ones I should use. I’ve walked laps around that stadium. If the nearest gender-neutral bathroom is off in B.F.E. compare to my seat, I’m using the closest bathroom.
Gendered Bathrooms â€“ But Go Wherever
There are public bathrooms, like the ones in Target, that are labeled for a single gender â€“ men or women â€“ but that have a policy that allows people to use whichever bathroom they want. The one time I needed to use the bathroom and I was set on using the men’s room, it was closed for cleaning.
When a company has a policy like this, I wonder why they don’t just say, â€œThese are bathrooms. Use whichever one you want.â€
I’m a fan of the water closet model for public bathrooms. Each stall has floor-to-ceiling walls and doors so you can’t see anything that’s going on in the stall next to you. You get as much privacy as one can get in a public bathroom.
Last week I attended the mastermind event, Shankminds Live, in Las Vegas. The venue had one gender-neutral bathroom with five water closet stalls. At first a few people seemed a little weirded out by being in a bathroom with people of another gender, but after a few moments, they realized it was a non-issue. When I asked my fellow Shankminders about the bathroom after the event, several people (men and women) responded that gender neutral bathrooms should be the norm everywhere.
One thing I will note about the bathroom at Shankminds is there were no urinals. From what I’ve heard from guy friends, some penis-havers like urinals â€“ really like them. They like them so much, they wish they had one in their home.
I respect that some people would be sad if switching to all gender-neutral bathrooms meant losing the chance to pee at a urinal, but that doesn’t have to be the case. I know of at least one all-gender bathroom at a club called The Mint where there is a urinal area where people can pee standing up where they won’t be seen by the water closet users.
Remember: You all have gender-neutral bathrooms in your home. Sharing a toilet with another gender hasn’t killed any of us yet. It’s only an issue if you make it one.