11/06/2015 05:08 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time Has Gone to...the Bathroom #peeingwhiletrans


I miss two features of living in a male body: running outside barechested, and being able to pee standing up.

I do not miss male bathrooms, however, in the slightest. As a recovering sex addict, I would grit my teeth to maintain my composure whenever sexual acting out abounded in a public facility. Even the odor of commercial cleaning solution on porcelain triggered memories. Nothing seems so close to any moment in the past as a smell from memory.

The last time I used a men's bathroom was during my second year of law school. I had been on estrogen for five or six months at that point, so my facial features had softened and I had grown small breasts. A guy was entering as I was leaving: He looked at me, then up at the bathroom sign, then back at me, then up at the sign again -- and then he went inside, shaking his head.

After transition but prior to surgery, bathrooms were an exercise in identity: I took care to aim just right so that my pee hitting the water in the toilet bowl would sound like any other woman's. This reminder of what was wrong with my body was excruciating.

Bathrooms are safer places now that I can pee with the right body. And if I find myself wincing at the toilet seat and wishing I could pee standing up, at least I can inhale a sigh of relief -- because unlike men, of course, women shit roses.

Zoe Dolan is a trial lawyer and author of There Is Room for You: Tales from a Transgender Defender's Heart. This mini-essay is from Here's What Actually Happens When Trans People Use Public Restrooms.