Men, Women, and the Toilet

Image: A sign designating a women’s restroom. Public domain.

I was once followed into a bathroom by a man, back in the 1990’s.

It was a ladies’ room in a shopping mall, a small room tucked away between the parking structure and the shops. I heard the door open behind me and I glanced back. A man was coming in, looking straight at me, and the look on his face made my blood curdle. I ran right at him and ducked beneath his arm on my way out of the door. I began screeching, hoping that someone, anyone would hear.

I screamed all the way into the mall. He did not follow. I heard him laugh.

I had forgotten all about it until the recent spate of laws aimed at keeping transgender folks out of bathrooms. Like many women, I have a list of scary memories I try to avoid. If I dwelled on them I would never leave the house again.

I tell this story to point out the great flaw in the bathroom worries: men who are up to no good don’t need to say they are transgender to go into the ladies’ room. They just walk in. They always have.

As for the discomfort issue (I suspect, the real issue) there are many women with whom I’m uncomfortable in the bathroom. The ones who pee all over the seat and leave it that way; the ones who hog the sink while they get their makeup just so; the ones who sit in the single handicap stall and play games on their phone while I sit on my scooter outside, hoping I won’t have “an accident.” Oh, yes, and there are the ones who wear perfume as if it were a chemical weapon!

I don’t like them. I don’t want to share with them. But I do because they need a place to pee, too.

Trans women are no danger to me. In the men’s room they are in deadly danger.

There are no cases, ever, anywhere, of a man  posing as a woman to get access to women in the toilet. That’s because they don’t need to do that: if they are up to no good, they waltz right in.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

12 thoughts on “Men, Women, and the Toilet”

  1. I agree. I also think having both single and uni-sex bathrooms makes sense because it gives everyone a chance to go as they need. At my synagogue a uni-sex bathroom is in the social hall, which is good, because the single sex toilets are at the far end of the building, where there is no one at night, which puts me at risk of meeting the kind of man you described in your posting.

  2. I recently suggested to a friend that our synagogue make all the bathrooms gender neutral. She paused and thought for a moment. Then she said, “Well, my first thought is that there will be a big kerfluffle, but I was in France last fall and all the bathrooms were gender neutral.” I think a lot of people will initially think – OH NO, I’VE NEVER HAD THAT BEFORE. Then on reflection realize that it doesn’t matter.

    1. Memories of French loos….like a shower tray, with a ‘foot’ on either side: more hygeeinic but a shock to the system from a balancing act point of view(but then I was 19 and fit….no way, now….)

  3. You know, women know this…but the law was imposed by men. Arrrgh. And of course, the whole issue, at least in NC, was a smoke screen to hide the real nefarious law that strips any worker in NC of their rights and restricts the hourly wage. I am ever hopeful that the ruling in Virginia, yesterday, will help to turn this around.

  4. So long as there are doors on the stalls that can be locked
    , it shouldn’t matter.

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