Street Smart Chicago

411: Free Choice at the Bathroom Door

City Life, News etc., Pride Add comments

When confronted with a stick figure wearing trousers next to one adorned with a triangular dress on the journey to a public restroom, most Chicagoans can confidently choose. Transgenders, however, are oftentimes afflicted with this decision. The distress does not stem from a gender identity crisis for the apprehensive bathroom user; it is trepidation of hostile intolerance. “Gender-nonconforming people are harassed in public bathrooms every day,” explains Malic White, project organizer of the T-Friendly Bathroom Initiative. White has created a plan of action for the project pioneered by Kathryn Sosin, co-founder of Genderqueer Chicago. “Nearly every gender-variant friend I have has faced this issue, no matter which bathroom they use,” explains Sosin. “I started to think about how absurd it was that we were preventing people from using bathrooms just because of their perceived gender, and I wanted to create something very simple to educate our businesses and community members.” The T-Friendly Bathroom Initiative asks more than 500 Chicago establishments to sign a pledge. In doing so, the businesses and organizations declare that individuals may use the gender-specific bathroom based on their own gender-identity. Furthermore, the establishment agrees to educate their staff on gender-variant sensitivity and interrupt any witnessed intolerance concerning the matter. Those who sign the pledge will receive a “T-Friendly” decal assuring the community their premises are a safe and welcoming environment for Chicago transgenders. (Tiana Olewnick)

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