The journey of transition is marked by many milestones, both large and small, and I’ve had two larger ones in as many days—using women’s changing rooms in a department store and the women’s bathroom at the airport.
Friday is my usual electrolysis day and I was able to work from home in the morning and take the afternoon off, which meant that I could be myself and wear whatever I wanted. I had bought a cute Prana t-shirt at a thrift shop earlier in the week and had been looking forward to wearing it so I threw that on with some white shorts and sandals and I had a great little summer outfit going on.
With some spare time before my appointment, I stopped by Ross to see if I could find some pants, but I didn’t find anything that I liked. What I did find were racks and racks of summer dresses that were calling to me, and since I have exactly one dress, (a winter cocktail dress,) getting a summer dress or two suddenly felt very important.
I trawled through the racks for candidates and then I realized I had three options; buy them all to take home and try on, take them to the men’s changing rooms, or use the women’s changing rooms. Buying them all and then returning most or all wasn’t financially or logistically feasible. Given how I was dressed, I didn’t feel comfortable at all going near the men’s changing rooms, so that left one option.
The downtown Seattle Ross is usually busy and Friday afternoon was no exception, with a steady stream of women going in and out of the changing rooms. Ross has an attendant to count the number of items you take in, so there was a gauntlet to pass, albeit a small one. It still felt daunting.
What if she turned me away? Worse, what if she turned me away with a look of disgust?
I set a fallback position of buying and taking home the cutest one if that happened, took a deep breath, and stepped into line. When I got to the front, I was prepared for rejection, and was amazed when she simply counted my items and waved me on back with a smile.
And then there I was, trying on dresses in a store with the biggest, goofiest, happiest smile on my face that I’ve had on in a long time. Better, two of my finds fit and were cute. The glow from that experience was barely dented by the upper lip electrolysis I had later.
Saturday marked the beginning of our family summer vacation and a flight to California. As part of my packing, I consciously packed all women’s or androgynous clothes. If I’m on vacation, I’m just going to be me, dammit. My traveling clothes were a casual v-neck tee with a support tank top underneath, longer white cargo shorts and my sandals from Friday. With an early start, I eschewed makeup because I had to help wrangle kids out the door.
While we were waiting to board the plane, I realized I had to go to the bathroom and that I couldn’t wait. The Seattle-Tacoma airport is very trans-friendly in the public accommodations since they have family bathrooms available, and I made a beeline for the nearest one.
It was occupied.
And now my need was moving towards urgent.
The next nearest family restroom was across the terminal, and besides not being sure I’d make it in time, there was no guarantee it would be unoccupied. So I thought, “What the heck,” and aimed for the women’s room. And I chickened out.
Gritting my teeth, I turned around and headed for the men’s room. As I approached, I looked at the guys going in and out and realized I didn’t look anything like them and would feel very uncomfortable if I went in. So I looped back around to the women’s and…chickened out again and headed back towards the men’s.
Then my bladder urgently reminded me that it didn’t care at all where I went as long as I went very, very soon.
Meanwhile, there was another lady waiting for someone in the passageway who watched me go back and forth and she gave me a very odd look every time I went past. I wonder what she was thinking?
Anyway, as I approached the men’s room again, I thought how silly the whole thing was and that I’m not a guy, so why would I use the men’s room? So I turned around again and walked right into a busy women’s room and got in line. (I hear that lines are a thing and that I should get used to it.)
And I did my business, washed my hands, and left.
No one shrieked in horror. No one gave me a dirty look. For me, this was huge.
While I still have some trepidation about being in both of those spaces, they’re not nearly as big a deal as it was before and I can breathe easier.