For cisgender people like myself, it's easy to take certain things for granted, such as the relative ease with which we can make use of public restrooms. But for a transgender individual, entering a gendered space like a bathroom can come with a host of consequences, from dirty looks to harassment to physical violence. Several activists within the queer community decided it was time for people to make it known that they are willing to support trans people and accompany them into gendered spaces. They came up with I'll Go With You buttons that allies can wear so that they may be called upon when that support is needed.
The organizers of the campaign explained its purpose on their website:
Our pledge, the pledge of #IllGoWithYou, is that those of us with passing privilege offer to be a bathroom buddy, a watch-your-back person, a stand-up-for-you person. #IllGoWithYou says “I will have your back. I will be your witness.”
Allies might deter verbal or physical confrontation simply by being present; they can also speak up if someone expresses hostility toward a trans individual. The I'll Go With You buttons can be purchased through the manufacturer's website. You can purchase one for yourself, or buy them in bulk to distribute to friends or fellow activist group members. Stickers are also available through the manufacturer's site.
The campaign's history page explained that it developed as a proactive ally response to the popular #WeJustNeedToPee hashtag highlighting the difficulties trans people often face when using public bathrooms. And it's not all about buttons and stickers. You can use #IllGoWithYou on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook to increase awareness about the problem, show your support, and find new people to join in. And you can pledge to step in if it's safe, or get help, when you witness someone being harassed.
The I'll Go With You site features a useful guide on etiquette and safety if you are called upon to accompany someone into a gendered space, including how to respect your trans buddy's wishes and privacy, as well as how to respond to situations that involve different levels of hostility or danger. Knowing how to be an effective ally is every bit as important as letting people know you're there for them if they need you.
Take the I'll Go With You pledge today, order yourself a button, and follow the group on Facebook for news on transgender issues.