Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I'm very glad that most of the time, I don't feel like an interloper to the Land of Men. When I first started living as male full time, I had that feeling a lot, despite my best (most radical) intentions not to. When you've been raised your whole life on one side of a fence, and now everyone thinks you've crossed over to the other side of the fence, it's hard not to feel a bit strange, even if declare that there is no fence. Like one of those invisi-shock electric dog perimeters, it's still a jolt to step over that invisible line. Maybe the trick is learning to rid oneself of the dog collar?

Whatever the trick, I've mostly gotten the hang of it- I still feel like an immigrant to ManLand, but I've definitely made my home here, and I'm making my peace with the remnants of the Motherland that I carry with me.

But some are harder than others. For example, (and this is goofy, but it's true) it's really hard for me not to be self-conscious in a men's restroom when there's someone else in there. Bathrooms are small, echoey, and I can't shake the feeling that the other guys are noticing things. I mean, I used to be worried about "passing muster" and being challenged as to my right to be in there. I don't much anymore- I'm no longer misread as female by strangers on any sort of regular basis. And I don't bleed anymore, so I don't have to deal with the hassle of where to put my tampons, since (surprise!) men's rooms don't have those handy little garbage cans in each stall. (As an aside, I guess I always thought those were a universal bathroom thing, since when I was a kid I used 'em for candy wrappers or kleenex or what have you. Nope!)

But I do still have weird bathroom moments, like "Can people tell from the sound of my pee that I'm trans?"

Fortunately, I usually follow that up with the shocking realization that most people in public restrooms are not paying attention to the sound of each other's pee, or whether they're sitting or standing, etc.

Because goddamit, I'm a dude, and I sit to pee, so I'm going to sit to pee in the dude's restroom whether anyone notices or not!

Anyway. I was remembering this over the weekend while I was at Smith, and using the (de facto) women's bathroom on my sister's hall. I felt like an interloper again, for a minute, shaving my face at the sink.

Which had its own additionally weird feelings of being an imposter...coincidentally, someone else on the floor had a male visitor that weekend, and he came in to change his contacts or something just when I was squirting shaving cream onto my hand. I immediately felt that familiar nervousness...I've never had anyone else who shaves their face watch me while I shave. Am I doing this right, after all? Do I use too much cream? Too little? Is it clear that I wasn't trained at my father's waist from the time I could reach the taps on the sink to prepare for my own shaving one day?

I know that everyone does things differently anyway, that all guys have their own individual shave routines, and, besides, he wasn't gay and thus even more unlikely to be checking me out/noticing me at all in the bathroom mirror.

So I shaved, and reminded myself that I'm not an interloper- more like a returning expatriate, and any unusual habits left over from my upbringing in a different place are fine, just fine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for this post. I still wrestle with the same feelings. Sometimes I hold it in for hours just to avoid running into someone else in the bathroom.

These types of anxieties might go away with a lot of time. But for now, neither restroom feels like a good place to be.