7 Trans Students on the Fear, Humiliation, and Loneliness of Life Under Bathroom Bans

I try to look on the bright side of things. Even though Utah has a trans bathroom law and a trans sports ban, my sport isn’t affected. I’m on the debate team at school, which isn’t separated by gender. I love to paint and make my own costumes, like a superhero n Iron Man outfit I created last year out of foam and cardboard. I love pretty things like flowers and dresses, and my friends weren’t surprised when I came out as trans. Everyone in my life has been supportive, and if they can get on board, I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal to other people where I pee.

Some days when it’s awfully cold outside, I try to look for the things that make it less awful. I find a beautiful tree and I look at it. I think to myself, “That is a beautiful tree.” I haven’t found the bright side of using the bathroom at school yet. I hope I do.

Finn, 17, Alabama (he/him)

I left my old school to finish up at home, and one of the major reasons was how many hoops I had to jump through just to use the restroom. I wasn’t allowed to use the boys’ bathroom, but the school did let me use the teacher’s lounge. I would try and wait until no one noticed me to ask to use the restroom, like walking up to the teacher and pretending to ask them a question. I would also make sure there were no people in the hallways. I would speed walk or run to the bathroom, trying not to be seen or heard, and it was frustrating to me because, at any time, another student could raise their hand and ask, “Hey, can I go to the restroom?” and then they walk out the door.

One time in front of the whole class, a teacher wouldn’t let me use the faculty restroom. She kept trying to hand me the key to the girls’ bathroom and I refused to take it. “I’m not going to go to the girls’ room,” I said. “I have to go to the bathroom in the teachers’ lounge, and you should have been made aware of this.” It turned into a major argument while the class was silent, and I told her that if this was going to be a problem, I needed to go talk to the principal. She tried blocking me in, telling me that I couldn’t leave and trying to threaten me. Eventually they let me use the bathroom in the principal’s office, who had his own private restroom. They had marked over the word “male” on the sign, and I cried in the bathroom. That same teacher was the one who came and knocked on the door to see if I was OK.

Their main issue with me using the bathroom was that they still saw me as a girl. Teachers were fine with me up until the point they found out I was trans. I had been a straight-A student until middle school but then their energy shifted. I decided to leave my school for good after an older lunch lady, who was in her 60s, misgendered me during lunch. When I told her, “I’m not a girl, I’m a boy,” it turned into a screaming match. “You’re a girl,” she responded. “You were born a girl. You’ll always be a girl, so stop pretending.” I really never understood their hatred toward me or why where I used the bathroom was such a big deal. To me, I was another person who had to do a daily human function.