I have to back out, to double-check what I think I saw. I must be tired, confused — no, I’d read it right.

Next: an event, maybe? I’d been to conferences and parties where the gendered logic of separation was papered over with taped-up notes, temporarily tearing down boundaries for a night or a weekend.

I feel the edges of the sign — firmly affixed to the wall. It’s real.

A simple picture of a toilet and those two words: “Universal” and “Restroom.” I step back inside, emotions swelling up inside of me. Even as I’ve grown confident in using women’s restrooms, I still worry in those spaces, still keep my guard up. And I often feel erased, rendered invisible as a genderqueer woman whose identification with the latter term is far from uncomplicated.

In the harsh glow of the fluorescents, I realize how much I’ve yearned for this, how much I’ve desperately wanted a space that didn’t write me out of existence, didn’t render my life impossible in its architecture.

There’s someone else inside, but they don’t say anything and neither do I. I enter a stall, empty my bladder without worrying about the sound the stream makes as it hits the water. I come out, wash my hands, fix my makeup. I’m dragging this out. I want to linger here, almost afraid it’ll disappear after I leave.

I drag myself out, down the hall to the coffee shop nearby. I ask the staff when this happened. They seem indifferent — maybe I should be excited that they’re not up in arms.

“So, you like them?” one asks, hearing my wild, excited tone of voice.

“Yes,” I say, struggling not to cry. “I think it’s a long time coming.”

What I don’t say: this feels like coming home.