Disability Toilet Discrimination: Need Advice on Public Restroom Etiquette


This happened to me the other day. I was travelling for 3 hours in the car, then had a toilet break on a public holiday. I went to use the disabled toilets as usual, but there was always a line for the women's toilets. A woman said to me, "Are you changing a baby?" Well, I was furious. I said, "No, I am changing this," and showed her the top of the pouch. She apologized, but I was still so upset. I have been waiting to hear this from someone. Then I apologized to her because her baby needed changing badly. But why do I have to show people this? I said, "This is not illegal for me to use this toilet." I will be bringing this up at our next association meeting. Okay, let me know if you have any good answers. I just had to get this off my chest. Thanks, guys. So, reply okay. - Moozy


I'm in Scotland. We can apply to our local council for a RADAR key which allows you to use disabled toilets - or any facility they have (in an emergency). Wonder what perks we have around the world?

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If you really look at it, you are changing a baby just like a diaper. It only holds so much before you leak all over, and you are crying because now you have to do a full change out.


It was about 3 years back, I was in Buchanan St. Bus Station in Glasgow, and after just coming off a bus from Inverness, I thought to myself, okay I'll go freshen up, change my pouches (I had 2 at the time) and get onto the Airport bus, as I was flying over to Amsterdam a few hours later. So I go into the disabled toilet, which are next to the change desk at the entrance to the toilet.

I saw these 2 cleaner type dudes, hovering around, drinking coffee, by the toilets and I marched past them to use the facilities. I must have been in there for about 5 minutes or so, finished what I needed to do, tidied up and walked out. The two cleaners that were hovering earlier approached me, and the tone in their voices gave me the impression they had been preparing for the challenge all the time I was in there.

"Eer excuse me mate" one of them said, "you are aware that you're not supposed to be using the disabled toilets, they're for disabled people only you know and not for cheapskates dodging paying the entrance fee". They had just said the wrong damn thing to the wrong person, I had just come off a 4-hour bus journey with no toilet facilities, and fancied letting off a bit of steam.

"What did you just say, you effing moron" and they were, you could clearly tell that the only education these dudes had ever had was from the Sun Newspaper, so I didn't hold back on my politeness. "Cheapskate! How effing dare you call me an effing cheapskate, I have an effing key for that toilet".

One of them said "You don't look disabled, now get out of here before we call security" by this time he was raising his voice and scowling at me.

You are soooo asking for it dude "and you don't look like effin doctors, I didn't realize doctors wore overalls hanging off their arse and dayglo jackets these days," I shouted back, "as a matter of fact go get me your effing floor manager" by this time I was raging.

One of them got onto the radio and called security, and the other one said to me "Right, you've had your chance, the security are coming to kick you off the forecourt".

As soon as the security arrived, I got out my key and my medical certificate (I had it with me as I was flying out of the UK that day), and told them "I am perfectly entitled to use that toilet because I have to shit and piss through my belly". Well, the security guards gave those two cleaners a roasting right there in front of me. Hehehe. Telling them never, ever were they to confront people coming out of the toilets, if they had an issue, they were to call security, it's their job to do that, not yours, blah blah blah.

Ooooh, it had made my day! I walked away smiling, but not before flipping my middle finger to the two cleaners lol, I had just won a small battle for disabled people, for I doubt very much that anyone is gonna judge whether a person is disabled or not coming out of that toilet again. Funnily enough, over the past few years since, never have I ever been confronted using any disabled toilet. These 2 cleaners were just knuckle-dragging idiots, sticking their noses in where it shouldn't be.x

Past Member

I can certainly relate, I always have to find the disability washroom public facilities as well. I am just not comfortable going into a regular stall and standing up back on. I feel like I am on public display because of my ostomy and people may get the wrong idea and wonder "what the hell is this person doing?" I am very paranoid with regards to my disability. I try never to go out for any more than 2 hours at a time. If I am traveling, I scope out the private washroom facilities.

Just because we have no visible sign of our disability certainly does not mean we don't have one. I always feel as if I have to explain myself as well going through airport security and such. It makes me feel like it is just not worth going through the hassle, but I like to travel so try to make the best of it, but always on my guard and worrying about leaks and steady checking my ostomy site.

So after all is said and done, we are most certainly entitled to use these washrooms. However, here in Canada, at least where I am from in Newfoundland and Labrador, we do not need to have a special key. We can just go on in.

Living with Your Ostomy | Hollister

Hello Augusta,

I'm curious about your comment regarding airport security. I currently live in Canada and have flown many times, within Canada, the US, and overseas. I have never had security at an airport ever "discover" that I have an ostomy or question anything I'm flying with. What kind of incidents have you had? I've always been extremely paranoid at the airport that I will have security discover it and have problems getting through. I never travel with paperwork, but should I start?

I've had an ileostomy for almost 15 years now.


Here in the US, so far I haven't had to have a key for the special stalls. But then we also take the chance that someone in there or the toilet is being used by someone who isn't disabled. Either cause the potty is full, nobody cares as long as they can go themselves.

Past Member

Hi Pennyann:

I always carry my supplies with me in case I need them. They go through it every time. I have to take out my paste and spray and put it in the plastic bags. Then, going through security, I have had to have pat downs on occasion, the extended version, just because I was a certain number....no other reason. And of course, they are checking my belt line. I always feel like I have to say I have an ostomy because getting felt that close, they would feel mine......see what I mean about being paranoid.....'

I have always had problems with leaks, so I always take a change of clothes with me on the plane.

Hello Augusta,

Thank you for your reply. I was starting to get paranoid. I have also had the "extended" pat down, but never even thought about saying anything until it was actually discovered. Knock on wood, I've yet to have anyone notice. I guess I can consider myself quite lucky as I rarely ever have a leak. It happens maybe once a year. I guess I should stop complaining, hey? I don't carry my supplies on my carry-on, but maybe I should start. The only thing I do carry with me at all times is my "deodorizer" drops to help with odor. I never leave home without the stuff.....

I don't think that anyone with an ostomy will ever lose that paranoid feeling in certain situations. I've had my ostomy for 15 years and I still have "bad dreams" about not being able to find a bathroom when I need it! LOL. I also worry about it when in new and different situations.

Hey Ed, gosh that was a while ago, still makes me mad hehe, I've been back to those toilets since, never had a problem lol, I doubt anyone has since either.
One small step for man, one giant leap for ostomates.x


I had a woman in a wheelchair waiting outside a disabled dunny, when I came out she gave me a blast saying, "You ignorant pig using a disabled toilet." I flashed my bag at her and said, "You ignorant bitch, imagine stealing other people's oxygen!"

Past Member

Hopefully this doesn't get me flamed, but I don't think of my colostomy as a disability. I would be very uncomfortable entering a handicap toilet and would feel guilty. That being said, I have only had to change my appliance in a public venue 2 times -- both times at work in a bathroom with private stalls and shared sinks. I just prepped all my supplies (wet towels, extra paper towel, etc) and packed my emergency kit into a stall. The hardest part was accurately seeing where to place the appliance as my stoma is in the fold of my stomach (which went into hiding every time I bent over to see it). I'm sorry if my opinion offends. I realize we're all different and have different needs. I'm kinda proud of my colostomy. It literally saved my life (emergency surgery for perforated colon, cause unknown) and I figure it deserves my respect.


I have a question, is it considered a disability in the United States? I have often wondered that... What about the rest of the world?

Past Member

In the UK, an ileostomy/colostomy is classed as a disability. I don't think of them as a disability. I do use disabled toilets at times and have pulled my top up a few times at people complaining and told them, "Oh look, it's full of shit like you." I only do it when it's the people with big mouths. It always makes me laugh, the look on their face.


I don't believe it is considered a disability in the USA... Or, at least, as far as collecting disability payments. I also don't think it qualifies one for a handicapped permit.

It's classed as a disability here. You get the Disability Support Pension and you can get a disabled permit. Seems I live in the greatest country on earth.
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