Restroom etiquette touches each and every one of us, however for those in the Transgender community it is an especially touchy subject. This should be common sense and quite obvious although from the news articles and first person reports which bathroom you use is very important.
In an ideal world you simply use whichever bathroom you want, when you want, and dressed whatever way you are at the time (the way it used to be done). Depending on where you are this still actually does work. In other places not so much. The first separate toilets for men and women appeared at a ball in Paris, 1739. So the concept of gender privacy is fairly new.
We can blame our puritanical Anglo-Saxon roots for the need for privacy as it would seem that most beliefs surrounding the embarrassment and shame have been instilled by Christianity. The separation of men and women restrooms is simply an extension of these practices. In many societies around the world, men and women are not allowed to mingle, again based on religious beliefs. Since the modern toilet did not become popular till around the mid 1800’s this is when men’s and woman’s rooms became the norm and this extended well into the 1900’s depending on the location and the level of development of the community.
Everyone must use a restroom in the developed “civilized” world, so the question then becomes do you use the men’s or women’s? Unisex toilets do exist, and are growing in popularity not only for transgender use but for families needing to attend to babies and small children. Unisex toilets are meant for anyone, so use at your discretion.
The unspoken rule for transgender restroom use is simply to use the restroom appropriate to the gender in which you present. Meaning if you are dressed as a woman then you use the women’s room. Since most restrooms these days have separate stalls, this is not a problem. The bigger issue arises in dressing rooms or locker rooms since there is often no privacy there. Most transgender individuals simply avoid these situations in fear of being ridiculed, run out, or more drastically forcibly removed.
It is sad that the human race is not mature enough to respect one another no matter their physical presentation or sexual differences. If common decency etiquette is followed there would be no concern of safety or embarrassment! Part of the issue at hand is a personal one of feeling worthy to use the restroom to which you identify. The rule is to live & let live and unless the other person is in danger of harming themself or someone else leave them without judgment or persecution.
The advice I give any person including transgender/transsexual individuals is be yourself, act naturally, and life will simply flow. Problems arise when you are trying to be something you are not. The biggest challenge concerning this is for crossdressers who identify male and are dressed as a woman, or vice versa although this is much less common. It is important to be that which you present. If you are dressed as a woman, do not stand nor face the toilet to urinate. Do your business and move on. Of course for women “doing your business” means checking your makeup and hair, washing your hands, and making pleasant conversation after actually using the restroom. In the men’s room it means do your business and get out after washing your hands and combing your hair if need be.
Stop feeling guilty going to the bathroom! We are human beings and this is part of the package. Embrace the social aspects however seems best for you by what feels right, mind your own business, and all is well!