Conferences are a particular problem for me, because of the increased importance of public restrooms during conferences. I am more afraid to use a public restroom during a conference than I am normally, because the people I could offend while using the restroom are more likely to be important to my career than those I encounter in other public restrooms. So far, the worst that has happened in a conference restroom has been a prolonged stare from someone, but I continue to restrict my use of conference restrooms out of fear. Furthermore, as a poor graduate student, I often do not stay in the official conference hotel, choosing cheaper accommodation further away. This means that I do not have the opportunity of retreating to my hotel room for a quick restroom break.
I transitioned from female to male during my PhD program. The following things were all said to me by students, faculty, or staff during the first two years of my transition:
- “Do I change pronouns now or wait until after the surgery?”
- “You probably had better odds being hired as a woman, with all the political correctness.”
- “I wonder if you’ll get better at your work, you know, more aggressive, when the testosterone kicks in.”
- “So what do you do in the bathroom? Use a stall?”
- “I’m not the only one who still says ‘she’–so does X and Y. It’s not my fault.”
- “You look like you’re in a good mood today–is it the hormones?”
- “Oh, I ran into someone who I think went to your college. I asked if they knew you, and said you went by ‘[new name]’ now.”
- “So what do you think about trans women? Like, their surgeries and stuff? Would you be into them?”
These individuals almost invariably identified as liberal and as allies.