CHICAGOIn an unprecedented effort to make the city of Chicago safer for transgender individuals, Genderqueer Chicago, a local youth group, launched the "T-Friendly Bathroom Initiative," a grassroots project that challenges business owners to recognize and protect gender identity in their public restrooms, according to a press release.
This year, more than 500 businesses and organizations will be asked to sign a pledge that commits them to allowing gender-variant customers to use the bathrooms they choose. Businesses that sign the pledge will receive window decals that gender-variant people can easily identify as trans-friendly.
"We expect this will dramatically improve the way transgender people experience our city and state" said Kate Sosin, co-founder of Genderqueer Chicago and a project organizer. "We want business owners to understand that under the Illinois Human Rights Act, it is not just their right to protect transgender people in bathrooms, it is their duty."
Gender identity and expression are protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act; however, Genderqueer has streesed that many transgender people are harassed in public restrooms for not "passing" as male or female. According to the release, "[t]his policing often results in violence against gender-variant people. It can also mean health complications for those who are not allowed regular access to bathrooms."
"This project is a critical reminder that trans folk can empower themselves to achieve something positive," said fellow organizer Christina Kahrl. "What we're getting to do here is change the dynamic, so that we don't just limit ourselves to protesting against those businesses and organizations who wrong trans folk."
The initiative is endorsed by Join the Impact-Chicago, Equality Illinois, Video Action League and others. For a list of complete participating businesses and organizations as well as more information visit http://friendlybathrooms.wikkii.com/wiki/Main_Page.
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