Peeing is something we all have to do, but it brings with it it's own dangers and anxiety for me as a trans man. I try to avoid using public toilets whenever possible, especially if I'm in a new or unfamiliar place, where I don't know the lay of the toilets. I will hold it until the last possible moment, and only go if I really have to.
I often get sideways glances when I go into the men's toilets, some of which I'm sure is my paranoia misinterpreting, but some of which are very real. I've had passing comments such as isn't that a girl and been challenged by attendants and men using the facilities. Usually it takes one of two forms, either they inform me that this isn't the ladies, or they question whether they themselves are in the wrong toilets.
Mostly when either of these happen, I'm able to reply No, I'm a guy, they apologise and we all get back to what we were doing. Although it's upsetting and makes me feel uncomfortable and anxious I can usually deal with it and focus on what I've gone in there to do, use the toilet.
Last night I had an incident which made me scared for my safety in a way I've not been before. I was washing my hands when a guy came up to me and asked if I was a boy or a girl. I replied that I was a guy. He then proceeded to insist over and over that I'm a woman and looked me up and down in a way that made me feel quite intimidated.
I was fearful that he was going to try finding out and get physical with me. I dried my hands and left in a hurry after, in my drunken state, having a small argument and swearing at him. I noticed him, once I was back with my friends, hanging around the door to the toilets, almost guarding it for a while.
Reflecting on it now I feel I was incredibly lucky that it didn't escalate and I was able to leave, the outcome could have been a lot worse. However, it's definitely put me off visiting the club where it happened in the future. There are already certain clubs and events I have found I don't feel safe at and will not visit, even if it was just a few individual patrons who made it that way.
I do feel fundamentally more safe in queer spaces, and I thankfully haven't had any issues in the toilets in the gay bars I frequent.
Now, some may say that I should not be using the men's toilets in the first place. If I don't want to be harassed then I should use the women's toilets, or the disabled loos.
Firstly, I identify as a man, and so therefore I have a legal right here in the UK to use the men's toilets. Secondly, I would feel just as uncomfortable, if not more so, using the women's toilets, and that is not without danger for me either. And finally, despite the option of using disabled toilets not always being there anyway, I feel it is disingenuous to use them when I do not have a disability that requires me to.
It takes a certain amount of boldness to walk into a toilet where you know you could be challenged, and I'd just like to be left alone to pee in peace.