I’ve been using the men’s room now for, oh, almost a year. It still feels a little strange; that is, I still feel like a foreigner…sometimes. It’s not like one day you feel up to using the men’s room, and go in, and are forever changed and just own the place. In some situations I still prefer a unisex stall: it’s about comfort and safety. All men’s room are different: some are obviously cleaner than others, some have different, um, let’s call it energy. The men’s room at the Metro has a different energy than the one at Lincoln Hall. Those of you that live in Chicago will inherently know what I mean.
I guess it’s more about the anxiety in my head that makes them different: I am worried I will be found out. You don’t worry about that? Don’t get nervous? That’s call cis-privilege. Enjoy it. I don’t worry about it *too much* because I have the benefit of living in a major city with a strong queer presence. So of course I don’t think, realistically that I will be discovered and thrown out or shamed or worse. No, but I think that concern must float around in every trans person’s head, to some degree, when they are using a public restroom.
Last week when searching for a bathroom in a public place, I came across a unisex stall, and for the first time checked to make sure there wasn’t also a men’s room, because I would have rather used that. I found that impulse interesting, and as I was washing my hands I wondered why I did that. Sure, I was becoming more comfortable with using the men’s room, but when I thought about it, the impulse to use the men’s room over a unisex stall was because I didn’t want to take up space that I didn’t need. I wanted someone who preferred the unisex stall to have that option. It’s nothing profound, but it does illustrate the degree to which I am settling into my male identity. 8 months ago I would have been elated to find a unisex stall and not searched for the men’s room.
The thing that causes me most anxiety while using the men’s room is specifically the stall issue. I used to make a big production out of blowing my nose to add a little more male noise in the stall once I was in a peeing position. My feet are facing the wrong way, you see, and what kind of guy sits down to pee? Actually, I have heard lots of guys sit to pee, and some of my male friends have told me they prefer the stall to a urinal. But nonetheless, I’m the one waltzing in there without the usual equipment. I’m not bothered by this too much, but bothered enough to start investigating STP devices.
What’s an STP device, you say? Stand-to-pee devices range in price and complexity, and allow people with vaginas the ability to, you guessed it, pee while standing and not get urine all over themselves. Hudson’s Guide has a full page on STPs here, and FtM Essentials has some nice models here. For me, I just want something that will allow me to stand in a stall and pee. I don’t want something I have to pack all day, nor do I want something with lots of parts to keep clean. I just want something that lets me pee standing up that I can wipe down/rinse off and put back in my pocket.
To that end, initially I was torn between the Pstyle or ridiculously named Go-Girl. Ultimately I went with the Pstyle, as I read uniformly positive reviews of it on multiple sites. The unfortunate part of using STPs is that you don’t know which one is right for your body until you try it, and of course all sales are final, so there’s a costly trial-and-error period to start. But being able to stand to pee in public would be really convenient and psychologically satisfying. The Pstyle starts at $12.00, so it’s a financially low-risk place to start as well.
Oh, and I’m still off sugar!
Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli