My senior year of college at the University of Georgia was the first time I used the women’s restroom. For the longest time I had avoided public restrooms whenever possible. As a then very visibly gender non-conforming person, the men’s restroom was a historic site of violence. It wasn’t so easy for me to blend in. The constant stares in public, the misgendering (calling me by the wrong pronouns), and the glance-overs in men’s restrooms verified that for me.
As I walked into the women’s restroom, my heart beat rapidly in my chest. Would anyone assume I was trans? Would someone yell at me or out me? Would there be mass hysteria? It was a busy period between classes, so there was a larger influx of women than usual. But no one paid any attention to me. I walked past the other students with ease, did what I needed to do, and left. From then on, I never questioned which restroom to use. That is, until all of this “bathroom bill” business started to rear its ugly xenophobic head.