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I'm a 29-Year-Old Woman Who Pees Standing Up

I’m a 29-year-old woman and, for the past 17 years, I have urinated while standing up.

I’ll let that sink in a little bit.

OK, are you back now? You good?

I wasn’t born this way. For the first 12 years of my life I had urinary drainage tubes because my bladder did not form correctly and could not function. In 1999, between sixth and seventh grade, I had a long and complicated surgery that gave me a new manmade bladder, the ability to get rid of the tubes and just catheterize through my bellybutton. I felt like I had a whole new lease on life. It was fantastic and still is, with very few drawbacks, most of which got better and more manageable with time.

But there’s one drawback that has started getting worse, and I’m scared it will continue to escalate: the harassment I get in public bathrooms when women look under the stall door and see me standing up in front of the toilet.

I’ve been called all sorts of names in public restrooms over the years, most of which I’m not going to repeat here. I’ve been asked questions when I’ve come out of stalls after I’m done, some from curious people and some from not so curious people who are disgusted about what they think they saw and who they think I am.

The most infuriating one was maybe two years ago, when I came out of a bathroom stall at a local restaurant in my hometown in Missouri, completely oblivious to the mother and daughter in the facilities with me. As I moved to wash my hands, the mother pulled her daughter, who couldn’t have been a day over 10, close to her and told her to “never go near people like that.” When I asked what she meant, I was informed I was a pervert and to go back to the men’s restroom where I belong.

With transgender bathroom rights now being questioned, I know it’s going to get worse. The looks I used to get coming out of restroom stalls every six months or so are now happen nearly weekly, and it’s awkward and uncomfortable. I wish I could manage to avoid using public facilities, but I have to urinate every so many hours, so sometimes I have absolutely no choice.

Women like me aren’t transgender, but we often experience discrimination. Our medical conditions and situations take us out of the “normal and acceptable” bathroom behavior category. I don’t mean to compare my experience to transgender people because I know the actual transgender community faces different and complex obstacles. It’s a struggle that may never end, which is ridiculous. There’s so much more in this world to be upset about, so why are we so determined to focus all of our attention on exactly how and where people pee? I just don’t get it.

Image via Thinkstock.