This year, Transgender Day Of Visibility feels timely and extremely necessary. Trans people, and trans youth especially, have been in the news constantly in the past few months – but mostly due to the wave of anti-transgender bills in state legislatures. We’ve been visible, for sure – but often for the wrong reasons, singled out for discrimination and othering by our elected officials. In states across the South, including my home state of South Carolina, and the whole country, legislatures are taking it upon themselves to discriminate against trans youth in a variety of ways, including keeping us from participating in school sports and revoking our right to seek gender-affirming medical care. Some of the bills even criminalize medical professionals who follow best-practice medical standards by providing trans-affirming care, and others force teachers and educators to “out” trans kids to their parents.
Though this treatment feels shocking and unprecedented, legislation harming trans and gender-nonconforming people has been proposed in the United States time and time again in various forms, and trans advocates and allies have been challenging them for just as long. Without our attention and outrage focused on this legislation, the bills could pass unnoticed and under the radar, legalizing discrimination without a fight. However, due to the dedicated and tireless work of individuals and organizations, many eyes and ears are on these bills.We have not – and we will not – allow them to pass without doing everything in our collective power to keep them from being enacted.
Today, I am reminded of the importance of visibility for folks in my situation. Until I became more involved with the LGBTQ+ community in my town, I had never knowingly met a trans person. It was difficult to imagine myself as an adult since I had never met any adults like me, gender-wise, and I was convinced that I wasn’t going to make it that far. Meeting transgender adults and hearing their experiences of growing up and living healthy and stable lives has helped me to envision a future for myself and my trans peers. Recently, talking to folks like Wynston Sanders and Ivy Hill of CSE reminded me of the incredible power and strength that we have as individuals and as a community. Having trans adult role models and mentors like them is immeasurably valuable, especially when most of us do not have trans parental figures or adult family members to educate us about the history of trans-ness and and help us down a path of empowerment and liberation from the cis-binary world.
Having trans adult role models and mentors like them is immeasurably valuable, especially when most of us do not have trans parental figures or adult family members to educate us about the history of trans-ness and and help us down a path of empowerment and liberation from the cis-binary world.” – Eli Bundy
As we celebrate and mark Trans Day of Visibility, please do not forget about the people that cannot be visible in their communities for a variety of reasons. Being out as a transgender person can mean being denied housing, having fewer job opportunities, and potentially being injured or killed. It is a privilege to be able to present as the gender that I am, and many people do not have that opportunity. Using our power to lift up folks around us is one of the most important things we can do to celebrate and support each other – so if you can, please commit to being a voice for folks who are fighting for their lives every day and cannot afford to be loud and proud in their trans-ness.