how i overcame my fear of the women's bathroom

With that title, this sounds like a gender dysphoria story. To some extent, it is: there was a period in my life where I rejected feminity. I styled myself a tomboy and wore only pants, but I also wore a hijab, and if you can imagine for a second, a blue-jeans-wearing hijabi playing Pokemon Yellow on the bus... But still, I was the kind of being-person who would read about Susan Pevensie and think, serves you right! Piss off with your nylons and lipstick and invitations! Something like that.

I still got pissed off when I was referred to as "he" by the boys I played Yu-Gi-Oh against in the comic book store. I wanted the admiration due a girl, as well as the respect/usefulness/competency/confidence/freedom that belonged to men, I guess.

I suppose. This experience made me aware that I talked from the wrong part of my body however.  Chest voice? Head voice? I'm not sure what it's called, but I later trained myself to speak in a higher tone--although I still laspe into my tomboy voice when too comfortable.

In any case, I was a homebody whose my parents raised them not to use public restrooms if I could help (they were filthy! You couldn't do istinja in them unless you felt like running out to wet the tissue.) They, like many things not in my house, inspired a sort of foreign fear in me. Just as the cardplaying boy mistook my gender, I would be misgendered by the women in the restroom, chased out and attacked. Or worse, I would enter the men's room in confusion and...something bad would happen. I didn't know what.

Public restrooms made me anxious, for years and years, until I joined the Conservation Corps and learned to pee outdoors and wipe myself with leaves. Digging my own poopholes (proper term: latrines) made me feel like an very accomplished cat, and squatting myself small down among ferns and bushes was often very relaxing. I considered buying a shewee. I kind of still want one.

In many, many ways; the great outdoors was gender-neutral.

I finished my half-month Americorps term with confidence in so many other areas, but the restroom anxiety stuck with me. I was no longer afraid of bars or liquor or distance from my home or so much else.

I think I was at an airport when I decided to innoculate myself against the "something bad" of public restrooms. An airport, maybe a mall where the women's room had a line or was full, and the men's room was empty and hidden in a corner where no one could stop me entering with a funny look. I'd read about women who used the men's room when the women's was full. I'd decided to become one. Maybe my failure to perform femininity would serve as camouflage to help me avoid wetting myself.

The men's room was exactly the same as the women's but with a urinal. Of course. But what was so forbidden about seeing a urinal? The single-occupancy ones were so similar, I really didn't understand the seperation.

In any case, after learning firsthand the banality of baños, my anxiety towards them was gone. 

One of my recent jobs had two genderqueer restrooms. On one of its last days, I remember exploring the men's room on a celebratory drunken buzz. I think I shouted in joy, "I'm in the men's restroom!"

My coworkers probably thought I was joking. But ah, they have no idea what it took for me to get there.