Navigating restrooms while traveling can be scary AF.

This past weekend I traveled from NYC to Virginia Beach by charter bus. I know it wasn’t going to be the coziest thing I’d be doing that weekend, but it was cheap, so I went that route. What I didn’t expect was to deal with bathroom anxiety. I rarely use and STP I’ve tried a few times, but I just can’t get into it, but because of that my mind is always riddled with the idea that they see me sitting and THEY KNOW!

This weekend was worse though, we took one rest break during the ride and the bathroom had one urinal and one stall, the line for the bathroom was long, and as I got closer to the front, I prayed it would just work out for me, that when it was my turn the stall would be open, but it wasn’t, while I awkwardly waited for the other person to leave someone else busted through the door and at the same exact time the person left the stall. Before I could even get to the door the other guy tried to take the stall. F$%! this is literally my worst nightmare looks like I’m going to have to go with the “I have to shit” line again. Then that requires a whole number of gestures once in the stall to prove that you are in fact shitting. I’m not saying noises and stuff but staying there an adequate amount of time so it will really seem like that’s what you did and so on.

I’m kind of freaking out at this point because there’s still four hours to go on this bus ride and if the wrong person gets a whiff of my identity I’m screwed. There’s nowhere to run. So, I sat in there for what I deemed to be an adequate “shitting time” and finally got up and left. For the remainder of the ride I couldn’t help but think that the guy I conversed with knew I was transgender, and even though that’s probably not true this is a reality that trans men and women deal with every day. I thought maybe I could give some advice on how to deal with these types of situations but honestly, I really don’t know myself. In most situations hopefully you’ll have the ability to wait outside the bathroom or find another one in the building that isn’t as occupied, and of course being comfortable using a stp helps a ton.

Unfortunately, because most of society still adheres to gender specific restrooms there will be times when you can’t get away from these awkward and quite frankly scary situations. If you do find yourself there just Try your best to remain calm and stay aware of your surroundings if you notice something fishy, get out of there as soon as possible. I hope that by sharing my experiences that you can find solace in knowing you are not alone. Not during the highs of your transition and especially not during the lows. It is by turning to your community and embracing this reality that makes the lows slightly less painful.

Camden is a 28-year-old trans person and visual artist. After serving in the US Navy he moved to NYC and recently graduated with his degree in visual arts. His focus has been primarily on LGBTQ+ portraiture and exploring, through photography, the many facets of sexual and gender identity. More recent projects include exploring spirituality within the queer community with hopes to create spaces for us to grow and rise up to our highest potential together.