#IllGoWithYou

November 2

Dear Leslie,

A few days ago, I participated in a group interview for a Powell’s Books Contact Center position. An interview at which, after successfully making it through the five questions great, I dissolved into a coughing fit—coughing so hard my side cramped and a tear escaped my eye as I left the room. I escaped to the women’s bathroom where coughs from my tenacious 3 week cold echoed off tile. I was shocked to find myself belching during these coughs and murmured “excuse me” and “goodness gracious” for the benefit of any invisible, silent person in a stall—while rolling my eyes with disbelief at my body and words. Confusing times, confusing measures?  **Update: I got a second interview. No thanks to cough!**

Anyway, that’s way besides the point. Antonya, one of my fellow interviewees, sat next to me on the 15 bus after our interview. She asked about my Pride Center work at Oregon State, which provided an opportunity for her to come out by saying her spouse (a trans woman) works at her university’s LGBT center in Vancouver.  I asked about their lives and we talked a bit about queer and trans experiences for a bit. At one point Antonya pulled her bag to her lap, pointed to the trans flag hashtag #IllGoWithYou button and asked if I had seen it before. She shared the button was for folks to wear to communicate willingness to be a transgender person’s bathroom buddy, to provide witness, offer nonviolent assistance, etc. #IllGoWithYou’s website does a far better job of explaining this than I do, but the concept is simple.

Here are the organizers’ tips on how to act as an #IllGoWithYou Buddy.

I was pleased to learn about #IllGoWithYou. How many buttons serve such an important purpose? #IllGoWithYou button is more than just clever, it’s useful. Telling me she had more at home, Antonya gave me the button on her bag. Now it’s on mine!

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I’m really happy to have a way to communicate support to others who may need backup. Although I don’t identify as a woman, I regularly use women’s restrooms because I know I can do so safely. I “pass.” That isn’t ideal for my gender dysphoria but getting to pee feels pretty darn good. I’m grateful.

Everyone should have access to bathrooms where they can safely pee, poo, or awkwardly cough.

Shout out to #IllGoWithYou’s organizers for a really wonderful idea and Antonya for her generosity.

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