It all began nine years ago, when the founder of Transgender Michigan Rachel Crandall-Crocker went further with her advocacy and announced March 31 as a day when thousands of trans people can be seen. Since then this holiday has been celebrated all over the world, even in places where being openly transgender is not allowed by the law.
However, trans activists who work to support trans rights say that it’s about more than just being seen. A day of transgender visibility is a day to create a safe environment for the people to go out as their real selves not only once a year.
Raquel Willis, a writer and advocate for trans women of color, says that Transgender Day of Visibility is a day when trans folks can show up as their full self. For a long time, there was only November’s Transgender Day of Remembrance to honor the victims of anti-trans violence. Willis believes that trans people also deserve a day to celebrate themselves as they are.
Visibility goes far beyond being trans
Another trans activist, Leo Sheng who shared his female-to-male transition experience on Instagram, says that visibility goes beyond trans identity – it’s about many other identities people hold, including race, age and ability status. Sheng says that his views on advocacy and visibility have stayed quite constant, but every year, he finds himself more confident to talk about other areas of trans experiences. He was also impressed by a growing number of trans women who have spoken as part of #MeToo campaign, which is particularly important. Speaking about the year ahead, Sheng hopes for the improvements in trans health care and that trans folks will be more widely represented in movies and TV shows.
According to Estelle Davis, an activist helping to raise money for the low-income transsexual women, trans people have always been visible, which may not be particularly enjoyable for them. Her Taking What We Need organization combats the idea that visibility alone may change the conditions of trans women. However, she doesn’t deny the power of visibility. Davis believes that trans folks simply need space and freedom to be out living their lives. Seeing the increasing number of trans people of all kinds who step out and speak for themselves, the activist noticed a significant change during the past five years.
Roxanne Anderson, a member of an organization offering cost-reducing access to healthcare for trans people, compares this day to National Coming Out Day, where trans folks just can be themselves and see the community across the world.
Trans activists are aiming to promote the idea that trans folks can be seen and represented just like every human being. Transgender people deserve to be an integral part of society, and celebration on March 31 is one more step to achieve this goal.