So, this is pretty cool and an example of how I’ve cultivated a community of good people online (yes, it’s an echo chamber. No, I don’t care.) And there’s a call to action at the end, for cis and trans people of all genders.
About a month ago, I saw a post on the Facebook about #IllGoWithYou, the trans ally response to #WeJustNeedToPee.
#WeJustNeedToPee is the hashtag campaign to bring attention to a problem for transgender people. In many places, it is borderline-illegal, actually illegal, or very unsafe for trans people to enter the bathroom of their authentic gender.
That’s right. I’m talking about a transwoman (assigned male at birth, but gender is female) or transman (assigned female, gender is male) going into a restroom and facing verbal, physical assault, arrest, being denied service, and so forth.
I know people (usually women) have a knee-jerk fear response to this idea. They are afraid they will be assaulted by “a man in a dress.” Not only is that extremely unlikely (for a number of reasons), the presence of a symbol on the door does not in any way, shape, or form protect women from assault. There are no bathroom police; you should always exercise normal levels of caution when you are vulnerable, whether in a bathroom or the middle of a shopping mall.
Side note: I went to college at a school where the dorm halls were connected via the non-gendered bathrooms. It was interesting, to say the least, and eliminated all shy bladder concerns in my life. You’d be doing your business or taking a shower or something (in a stall, at least), and a couple of kids would wander through, talking about their play rehearsal schedule.
Aside from not being an abusive jerk, what can a cis-gender (that’s someone assigned the correct gender at birth– for example, I am female, and my birth certificate and genitalia agree with my gender) do to help? Not-being-a-jerk is great as background positivity, but it doesn’t actively help. People always want to actively help.
Ally work means listening to marginalized people and taking the steps they ask you to take to help out. For most allies, small steps are easiest. We do not all have the energy, determination, or even privilege of my friend H. who is going to bat with the benefits coordinator at work, trying to use her cis-privilege to get transition medical care and hormones fully covered for her wife and the small number of trans employees at her company.
#IllGoWithYou is a small, tangible way cis allies can help.
Here’s how it works:
You get a button that has the identifiable trans pride flag on it, with #IllGoWithYou. They look like this:
You wear the button. This signals to trans people that you are aware that they might appreciate an ally in a gendered space, and you are willing to be that ally. A gendered space is usually a bathroom, but could be a locker room, a girls’ night at the bar, or anything. You might also be tapped to help as an ally to divert unwanted attention, questions, or advances.
A trans or non-binary person might approach you to be a “bathroom buddy,” or some other kind of helper in avoiding harassment or abuse. We all know it is safer to be in a group of friends than alone, right? We know that someone is less likely to verbally or physically abuse someone vulnerable if there are people with privilege (in this case, cis-privilege) present, witnessing, and helping the marginalized person. It’s why women go to the bathroom in groups. The buddy system works.
IMPORTANT: You and the trans person still exercise caution when talking to strangers! Wearing a button doesn’t make someone automatically a nice person. Asking for help doesn’t automatically make someone harmless. But you use your best judgment and assess your risks accordingly. If you aren’t up to the task, you can decline “oh, sorry– I’m on my way to something right now!”
I ordered my buttons in early July and already had several people asking for one. I posted a picture of them on my Facebook and had more requests. I’m bringing the bag to Gen Con. 14 of them are already spoken for, which means I have 11 left unclaimed.
If you want a button and are in Las Vegas, or going to Gen Con, please leave a comment here on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, and let me know. All of those ping my phone in one way or another, so I’m sure I’ll see it. The best chance you have for getting your button from me is Thursday, July 30, at Gen Con, at the ConTessa game night.
If you are a transwoman and you need a bathroom buddy, feel free to tap me. If I’m not running a game (and I’ll try to remember to take my button off during games), I will accompany you. Chances are, I need to pee, too– I always need to pee. I drink so much damned water… but I digress.
Anyway: if you’re a transwoman in need of a buddy, I’ll go with you. You don’t have to “perfectly pass” to ask– I am not a perfect specimen of “female,” either (damned whiskers!)
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