It happened again. I went to the bathroom at my job, and this woman who I’ve seen around the office for as long as I’ve been working at this organization (5 years), questioned my place in the women’s bathroom. I’m quite sure that today wasn’t the first time that she’s seen me around, and even though the organization has been growing rapidly, and yes there’s always a new face every week, you would have to try really hard not to notice me for five years.
Anyway, bathroom incident #5 occured today at 10:00am. I was combing my afro as she was coming in the bathroom, and she did a double take, to make sure that she was in the correct bathroom, then satisfied that yes, it is indeed the women’s bathroom, she asked, “Are you sure you are in the right place?” I was pretty much expecting her to say something after she did a double take, so I asked her, “Are you sure, you’re in the right place?” No response.
Mind you, there’s probably less than 40 people on my floor and the bathrooms are not open to the public. If you’re a visitor, you’d have to go through the receptionist first to even gain access into any of the offices. Basically, it’s very unlikely that I was a confused stranger using the bathrooms. And again, I have been working at this organization for 5 years. I’ve seen this woman around and she has seen me.
Bathroom Incident # 4 occurred last week Monday. This guy, who I’m 100% certain has seen me around, because we’ve been on the elevator together, I’ve said hello to him and he has said hello to me. So really when I was walking into the women’s, and he was like, “That’s the women’s bathroom,” twice, he doesn’t have an excuse (at this point no one does) because he heard my voice, and quite frankly you’re just a complete dumbass if you’re still confused about my sex/gender after listening to my voice. You would be at least cautious of making any judgments aloud, and thus making a fool of yourself.
Bathroom Incident # 3 occurred in 2005. The following remark was made when I entered the bathroom, “Now I know why this bathroom feels so masculine,” she said looking straight at me. There aren’t any urinals in the women’s bathroom at my job. The lighting is state of the art in the bathroom. However, it’s very cool in the women’s bathroom at my job, and at times “feels” to me pretty sterile. So maybe that was her reasoning behind those words, because I really don’t see how me using the women’s bathroom has suddenly changed the “feel” of it. Under my buttoned down skirt, I have breasts, and beneath my slacks and my underwear, is my pussy.
Bathroom Incident # 2 occurred in 2004. “This is the women’s bathroom. You’re in the women’s bathroom.” I said, “Do you want to come in here with me to check, to make sure?” No response.
Bathroom Incident # 1 occurred in 2003. Combatively, she said over and over again, “You are in the wrong place… You should know better than to use the women’s bathroom. You’re in the wrong place.” I was in complete shock, I didn’t know what to say to her, because I had only been working at the job for at most 3 months.
I work for a successful non-profit arts organization. Even though the workforce is fairly large for a non-profit, it’s not like a big conglomerate where you don’t know (at least by face) a fellow employee. You’d see each other on the elevator, at parties, at all staff meetings, etc. And since, I’ve been working there for the length of time mentioned above, I’m deeply disturbed and disappointed by all of this. Like everyone working full-time, I spend nearly all of my life at this job, and so I should never have to feel this way every time I use the bathroom. No one should feel like this.
I’ve written about this issue before. And I’m sure I’ll be writing about it again.
8 thoughts on “Bathroom Incident #5”
People are strange. Carry a gun, next time, bang bang, do the world a favour. Or not, just a few sharp words instead maybe. Ignorance is very hard to reason with but sudden and direct anger sometimes effects change. Good luck.
For f*ck’s sake. What is wrong with this world? I’m sorry this happened to you. On a daily basis I am amazed by both the stupidity and insensitivity of the human race.
I don’t know, all I can do upon hearing stories like this is wonder how people can be so wildly stupid. So publicly and egregiously stupid. I hope it doesn’t happen again.
Thanks for the support guys. I’ve found this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson to be helpful: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
found your post through the tag surfer
and wanted to say
this is the bravery that makes femme girls fall in love
a kind of combat, battle fought
for those of us who look too ‘normal’
for anyone to think us otherwise
i’m so glad you found that quote. i’m so sorry too. i wish you didn’t have to work with people like that.
Thanks Lissa. You’ve been away for awhile. Welcome back!
hmm.. Kind of a great post.
I am pretty shocked by the hostility that you had to face from these folks. I have known many a “gender ambigous’ women and trans-men in my day; and how strange to realize that the experience of “you are in the wrong bathroom!” is universal.
Amongst other things, I really think that statement, “you are in the wrong bathroom!” stems from a sense of entitlement.