Trans Lifeline Library:

The Social Transition


Navigating Restrooms

Trans Youth

The Social Transition


Navigating Restrooms


Public restrooms can feel intimidating as trans-identified people. Besides the real concerns about violence or assault, there can also be concerns that someone may create a confrontational scene about who’s in the gendered facilities. While those fears and concerns are valid, many times, it’ll be as uneventful as every other time you’ve gone to the restroom. If using a gender neutral restroom or family restroom is not an option, you can decide which gendered restroom is most appropriate or comfortable for you depending on how you’re presenting/passing, where you’re at, and whether or not you have a friend with you who can help run interference. 

Often, entering with confidence and heading straight to a stall is enough to avoid issues. For AMAB individuals who are transfeminine or NB, confrontations seem to anecdotally happen most often at the sink area in women’s restrooms. Keeping a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse or bag can give you the ability to quickly sanitize and avoid potential confrontation in busier or less safe bathrooms. However, you may often be surprised at the support and acceptance you receive from others–many cis women are okay with sharing a restroom with a trans woman, and either won’t make a scene, or may even come to your defense if someone else takes issue with your presence. Women’s restrooms can occasionally be a place of socialization, so if you feel safe doing so, don’t be afraid to participate in some “girl talk” with the folks who are touching up their hair/makeup or waiting for friends. You can also often score some bonus points if you keep a couple menstrual hygiene products in your purse–it’s not uncommon to occasionally hear someone ask for a pad or a tampon, and being able to pass one under a stall is an underrated but much-appreciated act of camaraderie.

For AFAB individuals who are transmasculine or NB, there can be fears around sitting down to pee or opening menstrual hygiene products. Despite assumptions that all cis men stand to pee, there are plenty who prefer to sit, and you won’t draw nearly as much attention to yourself as you’d think. If you prefer to use an STP, it’s unlikely that it’ll draw too much attention, especially if you follow the 1-2 urinal spacing rule or use a stall. If you’re nervous about the sound from opening a hygiene product, you can often mask the sound with a fake “courtesy flush”. While some stalls in men’s rooms have trash cans, many do not–fortunately, you can often wrap whatever you need to throw away in toilet paper, and subtly drop it into the trash can for paper towels. You shouldn’t regularly flush hygiene products unless they’re specifically marketed as being flushable, but you can judge if that’s a necessary action to take if you’re concerned about someone noticing what you throw away. Cis men don’t often pay attention to other men in the restroom, and will often go out of their way to give others enough space and privacy that you should be totally fine taking care of your business. The men’s room is typically a much less social space, which makes it easier to fly under the radar.

Ultimately, you deserve the respect and dignity to attend to your biological needs in peace in whatever space aligns most closely with your identity. Restricting liquids or “holding it” is unhealthy, and while it may be necessary in select situations, you should never feel like that is your only option. Refuge Restrooms is a great app that has user-submitted “safe” bathrooms across the country, so even if you’re currently in a setting that feels unsafe, you can often find another option nearby (and submit bathrooms that you find to be particularly welcoming or gender neutral). Taking a friend with you on longer outings in case you need to use the restroom, and discussing restroom use and policies with your school or workplace beforehand are two more ways to reduce some anxiety when it’s time to go.


Lambda Legal–FAQ: Answers To Some Common Questions About Equal Access To Public Restrooms

Refuge Restrooms–Find gender-neutral, single stall, and trans-friendly restrooms


Back to Trans Youth

Mailing Address

23332 Farmington Rd #84
Farmington, MI 48336