Every year on March 31, we come together as a community to mark International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) — an annual celebration of the transgender and non-binary community where we continue our work to uplift and honor trans voices worldwide.
Started in 2009 by transgender advocate Rachel Crandall, who serves as co-founder and executive director of Transgender Michigan, TDOV’s initial purpose was born out of a need to supplement media coverage of ongoing violence faced by the community. While violence against transgender people is an ongoing problem, it is not the entirety of the lived trans experience and this day’s focus lies squarely on telling that rest of that story in empowering ways.
There is no doubt here: Visibility matters and makes a crucial difference in all our lives.
When you see someone like you living their authentic life, it gives you hope and, yes, sometimes the permission you need to do the same. That’s the power we all hold and, this year, it’s never been more important.
Across the country, we are seeing state legislatures introduce and pass anti-transgender laws that impact the community as a whole. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), there have been over 430+ anti-LGBTQ bills introduced nationwide this legislative cycle and we are only three months into the year. Undoubtedly, we will see more in the coming year.
Many of those bills unfairly target the transgender community and their livelihoods in ways that seek to erase trans folks from the public eye. From restricting access to life-saving medical care and unfairly limiting participation in sports to targeting individual gender expression and eradicating critical educational tools, these bills punish transness with the explicit hope that the community won’t be seen.
That is as dangerous as it is nonsensical. Trans people exist and always will, living better, fuller lives when living out loud as they are. The Washington Post recently conducted a survey of roughly 500 trans adults — the largest nongovernmental survey of the trans community in the US — and overwhelmingly found that living authentically brings trans people satisfaction in their lives.
“The worst day I’ve ever had as a trans person is still better than the best days I had pre-transition,” one of the individuals interviewed said. That is the power of being seen as you are, especially for the estimated 1.3 million transgender adults throughout the country.
So, while today is a celebration of trans power and joy, it must also be a call to action for the entire LGBTQ+ community and its allies. We must all commit ourselves to doing our part to ensure transgender people have the platforms and visibility they deserve, especially at this moment as a country.
Here are a few things you can do to support trans voices this TDOV:
- Engage with local organizations focused on supporting and uplifting
- Donate to direct relief funds for trans and non-binary folks
- Educate yourself on the issues facing the community
- Follow and share content from transgender voices on social media
- “Pass the mic” to the advocates doing on-the-ground work to make a difference
These are just a few suggestions but they can make a real difference. This International Transgender Day of Visibility — and far beyond it — let’s commit ourselves to uplifting, supporting, and championing transgender and non-binary voices.