GenderQueer Chicago has launched an initiative to have friendly Chicago businesses identify themselves to trans customers.  Talk about turning the bathroom meme on its head.  It’s positive, it’s proactive, it puts the lie to the bathroom meme…I think I like this idea!  What say you, transfolk?

CHICAGO- In an unprecedented effort to make the city of Chicago safer for transgender individuals, local youth organizers have launched the “T-Friendly Bathroom Initiative,” a grassroots community project that challenges business owners to protect gender identity in their public restrooms.

In 2011, more than 500 businesses and organizations will be asked to sign a pledge that commits them to allowing gender-variant customers to use the bathroom of their choice. Businesses that sign the pledge will be awarded a window decal, so that gender-variant people can easily identify trans-friendly businesses.

“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 is protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act, but everyday, countless transgender people are harassed in public restrooms for not “passing” as male or female. This 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 of Equality Illinois. “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.”