OSU button campaign aims to make ‘trans-phobic’ students ‘uncomfortable’
In response to what they call “anti-transgender legislation,” students at Oregon State University are partnering with the school to provide transgender students with a companion to alleviate discomfort in “gender specific” situations.
According to The Daily Barometer, the “#I’llGoWithYou” Campaign was devised as a way to offer solidarity and assistance to transgender students, while also giving a subtle rebuke to their “trans-phobic” classmates, by providing special buttons in each of the University’s seven cultural centers that students can wear to identify themselves as willing escorts.
“We want them to see it, we want them to know what it means and feel uncomfortable, and recognize that this community is trying to change to no longer support those trans-phobic ideas.”
Students willing to participate in the initiative can place these buttons on their backpacks to let transgender students know that they are willing to escort them into “gender specific” places that might make them feel uncomfortable.
PJ Harris, a Student Success Peer Facilitator, noted that “gender specific” situations can even include talking with a professor one-on-one.
“If someone is walking around with the button displayed on their backpack, a person who does not feel safe in gendered spaces, such as bathrooms, locker rooms, or even talking with a professor, can walk up to someone with a button and ask them to come with them,” he explained.
On the other hand, he said, “If you really have to get to a midterm or you don't have the emotional capacity that day to deal with that, you take the button away,” which “serves both to avoid people getting let down, and it also maintains integrity and reliability with the campaign.”
According to OSU student Malik Ensley, bathrooms on campus are “super gendered into male and female,” oftentimes making it unsafe for transgender students to use them.
Tara Crockett, the University’s Pride Center Liaison, says transgender and non-binary students need bathrooms where they can be “comfortable and affirmed in their gender identity.”
Even as the campaign seeks to enhance the comfort level of transgender students, though, Harris admitted that a secondary goal is to create discomfort for “trans-phobic” students.
“We want them to see it, we want them to know what it means and feel uncomfortable, and recognize that this community is trying to change to no longer support those trans-phobic ideas,” he said.
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