Saturday, March 29, 2014

Butch Bathroom Blues

There is a general malaise that occurs before, during and sometimes even after a Butch lesbian uses a public "ladies" room. Depending on IF a Butch encounters any women in the bathroom, that malaise can quickly turn from malaise, to intense shame, embarrassment, even anger. That abrupt change is dependent upon how the Butch is viewed by other women in the "ladies" and how those women react to their perception of said Butch. Some women may walk into the "ladies" see a Butch washing her hands, then walk right back out and check the bathroom door symbol making sure she entered the correct bathroom. Some women choose to walk back in, some wait for the Butch to leave, some call security. This in a nutshell is the general experience Butches have when using public toilets.

Today I want to write about a different Butch bathroom experience, one that has yet to be written about publicly, discussed and in most cases even breathe of.

I work with all women, all straight and all well aware that I am not. I have worked there about a year and a half, and outside of a brief "getting to know" me period, get on quite well with everyone in my department. There is another department of mostly women, and via the lunchroom I have got to know them, also on quite friendly terms. Some folks from this other department have the option to leave at 3pm on Fridays. Today one of the younger gals from that department had opted to leave at three and was right in the middle of changing her blouse in the bathroom when I entered.

The young woman was standing in front of the mirror which is kitty corner to the door, as I walked in. For a moment she clearly thought a male had entered and quickly covered her breast in fear. I just as quickly averted my eyes and kinda jokingly said "dont worry I'm not lookin." The threat having been removed when she realized it was only me, regaining her composure she said laughing "Oh I dont care if you look, you have boobs too." Here in lies the greatest horror for Butch lesbians and our bathroom blues, for that brief moment Josie, lets call her, thought I was not merely a male, BUT worse, a male entering the private domain of females, the ladies. In other words, a potential threat/rapist.

The worst part of carrying female the way Butch lesbians do, is passing. Because every time we pass for male, we get lumped in with the creators and maintainers of rape and rape culture, violence and the violence against women and children. It is a thought most Butches put in the farthest corners of our minds, choosing to deal instead with only the immediate issue of passing, invisibility for who/what we really are, women. But we Butches all occasionally see fear in the eyes and even footsteps of other women, when we have to use the public ladies or walk behind a woman on a darkening street. And we get a sick nauseating feeling in the pit of our gut and just want to disappear from all humankind.

This happened a week ago, I hadnt written about it sooner because I have been waiting for that sickening feeling to leave me, but it hasnt yet. And every time this week I saw Josie, I felt even sicker, knowing that I caused another woman to fear being raped. That the way I carry female in a rapist world, has the capacity to align ME with rapist men and all the men whom maintain rape, which is ALL males!

This is one of the gravest issues with Butch Invisibility, because when Butches are not viewed as the women we are, we're viewed as the men we are not. Passing isnt a privilege if you're a woman, it is an unspeakable burden branding Butch women with a big fat PR sign on our foreheads, Potential Rapist.

And before anyone jumps to the aid of males by declaring "women rape too", yes they do, females are good students of male violence and male powers that be. But as the power and authority of humankind, who taught males to rape?



  1. I have often wondered how women who pass as men in public bathrooms feel about this, but I've never had the courage to talk about it with them. I have just taken it for granted that they know I get how horrid it is. I'm glad you wrote about it.

  2. California has a reputation for being so liberal, but that’s not the case in the smaller towns. Many years ago I was told to leave a women’s bathroom in a Tavern where the woman working at the bar saw me and my friend go in to use the multi-stall bathroom and she followed us in and told me I had to leave. She kind of held the door open and gestured at the handful of redneck guys drinking at the bar. They looked over and I knew even against 1 I never would have stood a chance. So I left, and when I walked by them (I remember to this day their kind of dead eyes looking at me like I was a monster), and then they wanted me to leave the bar completely, so I waited outside for my friend (who actually was initially pretty angry because she thought I had just left). Being a feminine straight girl, she wanted to go back in and raise hell about it, but at that time I thought that would have ended badly.

  3. If your comment isnt to do with your own experience with the issue/s raised in this post or those of women you love/d, then do not comment.


    I apologise to the last Anon who posted for removing your comment. If you like I can start another thread having to do with your remark?

  4. dirt,

    I'm a bit on the butch side, and I don't dress "feminine". I've never had problems in women's restrooms. I have sort of short hair and I usually wear jeans and a shirt. I'm the kind of person who just slinks in, does my business, and goes out.

    My comments were related to the topic at hand. Women shouldn't fear butches in women's restrooms. I sure as heck would rather share a restroom with a butch than share a restroom with transgender registered sex offender Paula Witherspoon in a dress.

    Butches are NOT males, and this was my main point. They have the same anatomy as other females. To me, it's not a matter of pants or a skirt, or short hair or long hair. It's whether or not they have a penis. It's the anatomy that counts.


    I'm sorry about your experience.

    As a lesbian who looks somewhat on the butch side, restrooms make me a tad uncomfortable sometimes. I just go in and do my business, and get out. I don't even look women in the eye.

    I know it sounds kind of strange, but I can sense the difference between a butch and a man. At first glance, I might be caught off guard, but once I get a good look at the person, I can tell butch from male. It's the women who aren't exposed to butches who seem to have the most trouble.

  5. You felt/feel compelled to bring up some mans name, when you could merely have said you wouldnt have an issue sharing a bathroom with a Butch woman but would never feel comfortable doing so with a male present. Clearly by stating this man twice, your comment was and is about more than the topic at hand.


  6. This issue doesn't just happen to butches. I occasionally get hassled in bathrooms and other places by over-socialized straight women. One time a woman was so alarmed by my appearance, she got a male janitor to come in and open the door to the restroom stall I was peeing in.

    I'm not butch, but I dress in jeans and hoodies. At the time of the incident, it was a hot summer day, and I was wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses and t-shirt. And long hair. My breasts are pretty obvious in a t-shirt,'s just that some women are so conventional, they read a baseball cap as male and freak out.

    Moral of story: don't internalize and over-process the bad behavior/attitude of over-socialized, repressed people. I realize you get this crap a lot more than I do, with my big tits and long hair, but this gender-policing happens to everyone who isn't all dolled up and tottering on high heels. Some people react to clothing and don't even look at the person.

  7. I hardly experience problems in women's bathrooms. Just 2 times they asked me to leave, because it's the women's. I always wonder how many people see the woman I am, I rarely pass as a man. Must be my friendly and soft face. ;)

  8. March 31, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    I completely agree that it's usually what you describe as overly socialized straight women. I can sense it sometimes, and this is why I never strike up a conversation with any woman in a restroom. I don't even look them in the eyes. Straight women talk to each other in restrooms. As a lesbian, I never do this because I don't even want them to get any kind of idea that I'm coming on to them.

    When I was younger, my hair was shorter and ever now and then I was mistaken for a boy. I don't get mistaken for a boy anymore, but sometimes I sense some weird vibes coming from the super frilly women.

    As I've stated in earlier posts, I think it has a lot to do with butch visibility. As more and more butches "transition" to "men" (they aren't men), this is going to make it difficult for butches who love their females selves. They have as much right to be in a women's restroom as any woman.

    Moral of story: don't internalize and over-process the bad behavior/attitude of over-socialized, repressed people

    I agree...well said

    I can certainly understand why any woman would be initially shocked by someone who looks like a male in the women's restroom. One in five women have been sexually assaulted or raped by who? By males. I think butch lesbians need to let women know that it's not women who are raping and assaulting women. The vast majority of sex offenders are male (over 90%). Most violent crime is committed by males. Butch is not male.

    We need butch visibility.