A small handful of times recently I get asked something recently. "Do you ever walk into the wrong bathroom by mistake?"
It's a slightly strange thing to think about, because it's something I've always had difficulty with. Not because I ever got this wrong, but because in years past I would have to consciously not just ensure I was walking into a men's bathroom, but steel myself for it.
It felt so wrong to enter gendered spaces for men that every time I did I would have this gnawing sense that I might be 'found out' at any moment. Despite consciously being able to tell myself that's not the case, it was a feeling I never shook and which never made a lick of sense sense until I began to read about gender dysphoria.
Now, using women's bathrooms presents a different problem. Despite how I look, there's been so much furore about trans rights and bathroom use (especially in automated 'trending' spots in social media) that I can't help but get a twinge of nervousness when I use one. Concern that the wrong kind of someone will spot me as trans and attempt to actively deny me the right to use the toilet.
The worst part is - this has never happened to me. It's a fear that's been built up largely because of constant coverage of bathroom-rights debates in a handful of US states, and good 'ole Angry Internet People.
It bothers the hell out of me that this is such a major concern of mine, despite having proven to be as common for me as being struck by meteors, attacked by zombies or waking up to discover that I now exclusively speak Swahili.
Yet it bothers me enough that if there's a unisex bathroom I'll use that, or if I don't really need to go that bad... I won't use it - and all these situations are still far, far better to the constant feeling of dread and paranoia I always felt using men's before.
Ignoring the effective scare-campaign being run by the media about this for a moment, another thing springs to mind: my relationship with gender will always, always be complicated.
It will get easier over time, but the fact is I've always had to think very carefully before entering gendered spaces, and decades of doing that coupled with the constant dissection of the validity of my gender identity don't make it easy to shake, even though I am more comfortable in gendered spaces now than ever before.