(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of the transgender community as a whole.)
For those of you who don’t know, today (March 31st) is Transgender Day of Visibility. You may be asking yourself, “what is Transgender Day of Visibility, exactly Alexia?”
Well, I’m glad you asked. Here it is, boiled down to brass tacks by the fine folks at Trans Student Equality Resources:
“TDOV is a day to show your support for the trans community. It aims to bring attention to the accomplishments of trans people around the globe while fighting cissexism and transphobia by spreading knowledge of the trans community. Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance, this is not a day for mourning: this is a day of empowerment and getting the recognition we deserve!”
Visibility seems like a fairly straightforward concept. One should be proud of who they are and be unafraid of expressing that to the world. However, the unfortunate reality is still one where visibility for transgender people often times means becoming a target for harassment or worse. I actually had an incident occur, recently, when someone drunkenly outed me as trans. It was within a safe space with people I knew, and this person apologized after the fact. The fact remains, however, that the damage was done: anyone within earshot, that has an ax to grind against trans people, now could potentially see me as a target for their hostility.
There’s also the opinion, for some, that openly identifying as transgender runs counter to the idea of living as the gender they identify with. I guess that’s a long-winded way of saying that some people believe living “in stealth” is the only real way to be transgender, and publicly identifying as such somehow invalidates your “authentic self”.
So, why go to the trouble of telling anyone? Why even bother with visibility?
It’s because visibility is important. It’s important to me, and important to my fellow trans brothers and sisters. Visibility promotes familiarity. It gets people talking about it. They have to confront their own feelings about it one way or another.
Here’s a great infographic that illustrates why it’s so important much better than I could explain, once again from Trans Student Equality Resources.
In short, coming out of the shadows helps to reduce transgender people becoming victimized and marginalized by society at large. Is there a long way to go? Is there still work to be done? Of course. However, TDOV is a day we set aside to see how far we’ve come.
I, for one, will be enjoying the day honoring those who’ve helped paved the way for me and helping (in my own small way) to help pave the way forward for others.
Happy TDOV, everyone!