Posts Tagged ‘restrooms’

Question MarkBelow we have three letters with a common theme: a desire to medically transition, the inability to do so, and the problems that can create. Each is a little different, so I’m hoping that readers will have some thoughts about one or more of these situations.

A reader writes: “I’m writing because I went to my Kaiser trans specialist yesterday. She said that they now offer SRS and breast implants to trans women who work for certain companies. I replied that it was fine, and I’d happily take a genital reworking once my company was among the fold.

“However, to meet the requirements of WPATH, I would need (and want!) to live full-time for a year prior. To facilitate that, I asked, could I get electrolysis and/or facial changes that would enable me to live comfortably as a woman. She said that Kaiser won’t cover those procedures. My PCP added that she remembers when they didn’t offer ANY trans surgery.

“So I feel caught in a Catch-22. I can get bigger boobs, but not a chance to live comfortably in my skin, relatively free from harassment. And I should be grateful. Argh! I have a small income and no savings. What do you think? I just feel frustrated.”

It is frustrating, because some of the very basic procedures that trans people need – sometimes more than extensive surgery itself – are not considered medically necessary. Things such as electrolysis and facial surgery are considered “cosmetic,” although they can be the foundation of living socially in the gender that matches a person’s identity.

And social presentation can be just as important – and sometimes more so – than parts of our physical body that are generally private. How we are seen by others, and how others interact with us, can be essential to how we see ourselves.

In my opinion, the things that allow for appropriate and successful social adjustment in transition should be considered just as necessary as any larger medical procedures that trans people might need. However, my opinion has yet to be taken into consideration by the powers who make these decisions. (more…)


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Question MarkI’m getting a little backed up again, and this week is my “holiday” week, so I put some short questions together with some short answers. For my many question-writers, thank you for your patience. I’m getting there!

I am also working on trying to make the blog a little easier to navigate (I hope) by adding some specific categories so that readers can more easily find old information and posts that might apply to their circumstances. I am trying to redo my Categories, and it’s taking some time, so again, thanks for your patience.

Here are this week’s questions:

A reader writes: “I’m an FTM transgender person. I’ve already picked out a first and a middle name, and I chose to stick with my last name. The problem is I like the first and middle names that I picked, but I also like the first name given to me at birth. I just can’t seem to find a way to add my birth name in there. I need a bit of help or advice.”

I answered a very similar question recently, so I am going to link to that post, Choosing a Middle Name, because I think it could be helpful. I would also recommend reading the comments. A reader suggested something that I didn’t even think of when I was answering the question, which is that the writer could have two middle names.

If you have a first and middle name picked out that you really like, but your birth name is special to you, use it as another middle name. You can even decide to go by one name in a professional setting and another in a personal setting. So don’t feel limited. Changing your name is an opportunity to have exactly the name that you want, so go for it!

A reader writes: “Do you know anything about the connection (or lack thereof) between testosterone and cancer? And any thoughts on how this might affect one’s decision to go on T?

“My second issue is, I am thinking about going on T to transition from female to male, but I have a really bad needle phobia. If I don’t miraculously overcome it, I won’t transition. The thought of giving myself shots for the rest of my life is too overwhelming. Do you have any advice or know anyone who has been in a similar situation?” (more…)

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Question MarkBelow, we have two relatively unrelated questions about guy things, but I put them together because they’re short, and I was also hoping for reader ideas and suggestions. Here we go:

A reader writes: “I have read many articles about bathroom etiquette. I understand that you are not to linger around the men’s room. My question is about a situation where there is only one stall in the men’s room. What do you do when it is occupied?

“You don’t just want to stand there and wait. If you wait outside of the men’s room, you look a little creepy or like you are trying to pick someone up. So what do you do when the stall is occupied and you are not comfortable or able to use the urinals?”

I run into this situation all the time. Sometimes I do wait – not outside the men’s room, but just hanging around inside, generally washing my hands or otherwise busying myself. However, if it looks like it’s going to be a while before the guy comes out, I generally leave and either come back later if I can wait, or try to find another restroom if I can’t.

When I first started using men’s public restrooms, I learned quickly that you don’t smile at anyone, you don’t make small talk, and, for the most part, you don’t look at anyone at all. But I never did learn what the acceptable thing to do is if you need the stall and it’s occupied. So I just did what came naturally, which was hang around a little bit and see if the guy was ever going to come out, then leave and seek out someplace else if he didn’t.

Since I wanted to get this right, I just asked a non-trans male friend about the rules. He said that he would not hang around inside the restroom if he didn’t have anything to do there. (more…)

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Question MarkWhat follows is a variety of unrelated questions, but I put them together in hope of reader thoughts and suggestions with regard to these various situations:

A reader writes: “I am a 21-year-old transguy who’s been on T for nearly a whole year so far, and recently started to think about working as an au pair, because I’d like to move into another country. I’d like to improve my language skills and see the atmosphere of a new country to decide if I like it, and if I can gain money while doing that, it sounds like a perfect opportunity!

“However, I am aware that families can be picky in these cases. Being bisexual, a guy, and a transsexual one, too, I know maybe I am not an ideal candidate for a regular family. For this reason I was thinking, since in other countries gay marriages are becoming legal and I’ve heard several stories about families with queer children, wouldn’t it be cool if I could work as an au pair for LGBT families?

“I know that if my child was gay, bisexual, transsexual and/or gender nonconforming, I would want someone who can understand them and show them that there are others like them, or if I was trans and/or in a gay relationship, I’d prefer to host someone who knows what it’s like not to be straight nor cis.

“However, I have no idea of how I could find a LGBT family interested in something like this. Do you or your readers have any advice about this? It would be great if anyone knew of a website specifically about this, of course, but even just some general advice on the topic of LGBT au pairs would help.”

I have absolutely no information on this. Based on my limited (non-existent) knowledge, the one thing I would suggest is that you figure out what country (or countries) you might be interested in, maybe even narrowing it down to general areas or cities within that country, then finding the websites specific to LGBT life in that country.

If there are websites, or even print publications, devoted specifically to LGBT parenting, so much the better. But, for example, if you’re interested in going to Paris, I’m sure that there are general LGBT organizations in Paris that would have websites. Then contact those organizations and ask how you might advertise yourself as an au pair. (more…)

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WomenIt’s 2013 and we are still arguing over the right to eliminate.

Colorado has some of the best laws in the country around the protection of trans rights, and our public accommodations law covers transgender and transsexual people, but we are still doing battle over bathrooms. Most recently, a six-year-old girl has been the target of discrimination when, despite our laws of protection, her school is not allowing her to use the girls’ restroom.

And now the state of Arizona, which brought us the most discriminatory racial-profiling bill in recent history, is back at it with SB 1045, which originally mandated discrimination against trans people and would pretty much force everyone, trans or not, to haul their birth certificates around with them in order to use public facilities.

Rep. John Kavanagh, a sponsor of the bill in the state legislature, has now “softened” it to allow, but not force, businesses and organizations to discriminate. He claims he did this in the face of public outcry. (Did he think there wouldn’t be any? He doesn’t know our Arizona trans community very well.)

So just as Colorado proves that a public accommodations law is not going to stop discrimination against trans people, Arizona is letting us know that it really doesn’t care.

And in the trans community, we know that laws such as the one making its way through the Arizona state legislature will negatively impact trans women the most. We also know that these laws are almost always based on an underlying premise of sexual predation.

In the face of all this, I would like to reiterate some of the points I make in Five Points for Non-Trans People About Public Restroom Use and add some additional points here:

> I lived as a girl and a woman for forty-two years. In that time, I used public women’s restrooms tens of thousands of times – at school, at work, in restaurants, in bars, in the mall, at concerts, and at every other possible public venue. In all of those years, not once – not once! – did I see the genitalia of anyone else in any of those restrooms. Over a period of forty-two years, I had no idea who was in the bathroom with me or what the other bodies in there looked like – nor did I care. (And I didn’t show anyone mine, either.) (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I am a personal trainer and group exercise instructor in Palm Springs, CA. I may be a bit naive, but I have a feeling that the transgender community may be underserved and unnoticed when it comes to physical fitness and mainstream gyms. As my clientele is varied, my intention is to embrace and share all things fitness and ‘gym life’ and evolve into a better trainer and person in doing so.

“Can you suggest effective methods to reach out to the transgender community, while also being sensitive and respecting privacy and security issues. I have a lot to learn and am eager and ready to do so! Thank you for any help you may offer.”

When I first began my transition, my therapist told me to spend time in “men’s spaces,” including men’s locker rooms. At the time, I was very uncomfortable with this notion, and I didn’t do it. Maybe I was insecure about my body compared to the other guys’ bodies that I would see there, maybe I was nervous about communal shower space, or maybe it was just an excuse for not working out, but somehow I felt like I wouldn’t “belong” there.

As I got older, going to the gym seems less and less appealing, even though I would probably feel fine in the locker room, but I know that there are tons of trans people who go to gyms and work out (which is why they look great and I can’t fill out a T-shirt). And I think that many trans people who are looking for a gym or a trainer would probably welcome the opportunity to work out with a trainer who welcomes them.

In my opinion, and I’m sure readers will have others, you should market to trans people by advertising “a gym for all” or “services for all.” You can have a flyer or ad that says “Diversity is my specialty” or “Everyone welcome – no exceptions” or “Safe space for all.” Sometimes an added rainbow background or rainbow motif of some kind will signal to trans people that they are welcome, and sometimes it won’t make a difference, because not all trans people identify with the rainbow flag or with the LGBT community. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I’m sixteen and a closet FTM. None of my friends know, but when I return to school after this summer, I really want to present as male.

“I’m going to counseling, but it’s going very slowly (I’ve only managed to get two appointments so far), and I haven’t been diagnosed with GID yet. I’m almost positive I have it though. I feel like a boy.

“So I was wondering: Do you have to be diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder before coming out to everyone?”

The short answer is: No, you don’t have to be diagnosed with GID before coming out. You know who you are and you know how you want to live, so if you want to come out as trans and live and present as male, you can do that at any time.

Now the long answer (you knew it was coming):

I don’t know your living situation and whether or not you are living with your parents. If you are living with a parent(s) or guardian(s), you will probably need to come out to that person or those people before you begin presenting as male. If your appearance is changing at all – clothing, hairstyle, and so on – they will obviously notice that and will want an explanation. So that will probably be your first order of business.

Also, if you intend to return to a school that you have previously been attending as female, you will need some backing from your parents. It’s possible that school personnel will not be as cooperative as you might envision. There will be issues with restroom use, gym class, and your new name and pronoun.

Depending on the school and its policies, it is quite possible that they will not honor your requests to be treated as male, particularly without your parents’ backing. If you intend to live as male when you return to school, you and your parents should meet with the principal and guidance counselor prior to the school year to devise a plan on how this will all work. If you just show up at school and tell your teachers you want to be called by a male name and referred to by male pronouns, it is likely to fall flat. This type of thing takes some advance planning. (more…)

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