Please note: The term “trans” is meant here to be an inclusive term for all people who label themselves as transgender, gender nonconforming, and/or anyone else whose gender does not match the one they were assigned at birth.
It’s times like these that we need hope. March 31st every year marks a day of hope for trans people everywhere, making their presence known among the general public to inspire visibility and understanding. A recent 2019 poll from YouGov stated that 39% of people polled knew someone who was trans, yet even today, many trans people face discrimination in their daily lives. Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV) is a day of celebration for trans individuals to be seen and respected as one’s true self rather than living another life not meant for them.
So, what is TDOV about?
TDOV brings public attention to many aspects of a trans person’s life. This includes but is not limited to their history, all people who are or were incongruent with their gender assigned at birth, the futures of trans people, and the work that still needs to be done. While many trans people are open about themselves and there is higher acceptance in some areas of the USA, many more still feel as though they have to hide. Many still are in an inhospitable environment where being out could place their own lives at risk.
Despite the Public Religion Research Institute coming out with information that people have become more accepting of trans people, this does not mean that others do not exist to block, refuse, discount, or eliminate trans people’s ability to live their lives. TDOV is a way of saying to those that cannot be out that others will be there to help pave the way. Hopefully one day, all trans people can live as they are. It’s a way of saying to others who may not have the liberty of being out, “We got you”.
Where did it come from?
Thank a woman named Rachel Crandall-Crocker, Executive Director of Transgender Michigan (an activist organization specializing in trans issues in the state). In 2009, Rachel noticed that Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) marked itself as a somber day for trans people across the world. Realizing that being trans was about more than the lives lost and mourning them, Rachel campaigned for the idea of a celebration day of trans identities while still keeping TDOR where it needs to be. Now, TDOV events happen all across the US to bring a smile and awareness.
Ok, I get what TDOV is, but isn’t Pride enough? Why do we need it as a community?
Pride is about celebrating all LGBTQ+ identities, orientations and gender expressions. It serves as an homage to when Gay Rights first began gaining some traction in modern history. While great strides have been made for LGBTQ+ people, trans people are still receiving discrimination mostly due to misinformation. To make matters worse, trans people have recently had one of the most dangerous years on record. According to TDOV.org, “Despite increased national media visibility, this year  goes on record as one of the most dangerous years for transgender and gender non-conforming people, with alarming rates of violence, homicides, and suicides – specifically impacting trans women of color and youth.”
Trans people need to be seen, heard, and respected now more than ever. Trans is not an idea: it’s a people, a minority that often goes unnoticed even by those that tout their own acceptance of other orientations and identities. More action is needed to place trans people as the people they are and deserve to be. What’s more, even though 39% of people said that they knew someone who was transgender, much of the media doesn’t give trans people their fair share of presence, letting others know that they are not alone in the struggle to be seen and recognized.
But this is a new thing, right? I think that there are more trans people now, especially recently.
While it may seem like that, trans people have been present throughout human history. Due to past — and some current — societies’ stringent hold on cisgenderism, many were forced into hiding. Throughout history, trans people have made significant headway in many different areas of human life. Here are some examples:
- Alan L Hart – Alan was a transgender man living in the early 1900s. He’s the man responsible for helping to pioneer using x-rays to diagnose TB patients.
- Marsha P. Johnson – Marsha was a black LGBTQ+ rights activist during the 1960s. She was part of the Stonewall Riots when they occurred in1969.
- Sylvia Rivera – Sylvia was a Latina LGBTQ+ rights activist during the 1960s. She was a contemporary of Marsha P. Johnson.
- Chelsea Manning – Chelsea was a US Army Intelligence analyst who blew the whistle for several US war violations during the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations in 2010.
Many more examples exist in the annals of history with some evidence dating back to ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iran and Iraq) about 9000 years ago. In addition, many Native American, Indigenous, and First People’s cultures have continually embraced third gender and “two-spirit” people throughout their existence. Lest we also forget the hijras of India and Bangladesh. To say that this is something new is factually inaccurate. Trans people have been around as long as humans have been recording history and even earlier.
While many in power still stand in the way of trans people having the same rights as cisgender people, TDOV serves as a reminder that trans people exist and will continue to exist, no matter what personal biases dictate into law. Our Laws must be fair and just for all people without discrimination, harassment, threat, or any kind of inequity. This day is a reminder to not just trans people, but to allies, that they are cause for celebration, not criticism. We will continue to fight the fight until all are accepted, not just recognized, for who they are. Tolerance is not enough.