Happy Transgender Day of Visibility!

March 31st marks the annual Transgender Day of Visibility. The day was created in 2010 by the head of Transgender Michigan, Rachel Crandall, who wanted to celebrate the transgender community. Despite what you may commonly see on TV and in magazines, transgender and gender nonconforming people are more than just entertainers or victims – they are multidimensional people with various professions, who do not all conform to the same narrow narratives that are often depicted in the media. This day is a great opportunity to recognize and celebrate the diversity of experiences and successes transgender and gender nonconforming folks have lived and have achieved.
Six years after the first Transgender Day of Visibility, discriminatory policies across the country continue to attempt to harm trans folks and invalidate their identities – like the new anti-LGBT law in North Carolina, which demands that transgender and gender nonconforming people use facilities (like bathrooms and locker rooms) based on the sex designated on their birth certificates, regardless of their gender identities; changing the sex designation on one’s birth certificate is a difficult and intrusive process  in many states. And there is no available way to reflect the gender identity of a gender nonconforming person (someone who does not identify on the gender binary as “male” or “female”) on a birth certificate at all. Discriminatory policies like these make this year’s Transgender Day of Visibility more important than ever.
Discrimination against transgender people does not stop there and has terrible consequences. According to Injustice at Every Turn, a nation-wide survey exploring discrimination against trans individuals, 41% of the transgender people surveyed had attempted suicide; 19% were denied health care because of their gender identity; and 25% had been fired from their job for being transgender.
A 2015 study indicated that many employers are more likely to hire less qualified job candidates who are cisgender (people whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth) than to hire more qualified candidates who are transgender. This refusal to hire, coupled with workplace harassment and discrimination, contributes to transgender folks being unemployed at twice the rate of the general population – which is why transgender people must not be excluded from the conversation about the gender pay gap, among other discriminatory workplace practices.
Because of these high rates of unemployment, poverty, and discrimination, trans folks are less likely to be able to access health insurance and are less likely to receive the essential care they need. Twenty eight percent  of surveyed transgender people reported postponing seeking care when they were sick or injured due to discrimination, and 48% postponed care because they could not afford it. In addition, because insurance companies often cover some health care services based on the gender people indicate they identify with on a form, some transgender folks are denied coverage for the care they need that is recommended for the sex assigned to them at birth. For example, transgender men who need mammograms and transgender women who need prostate exams are often denied coverage for these services, because they do not fit into the categorizations many insurance companies use to decide what services to cover for whom. This is why transgender people must not be excluded from the conversation about health care and reproductive justice.
The theme of this year’s Transgender Day of Visibility is “More Than Visibility,” recognizing that for many transgender people, visibility can mean violence and discrimination – which is why visibility alone is not enough. It must be accompanied by direct action in order to secure the rights and safety transgender and gender nonconforming folks deserve, as well as to recognize and promote the diversity of experiences people have.
Here are a few great ways to celebrate this TDoV that extend beyond simple visibility and celebrate the many accomplishments of the transgender and gender nonconforming communities:

  1. Read some of these amazing books written by transgender women and support the work of these talented transgender musicians.
  2. Engage in some of the activities on this list of 10 Things You Can Do for TDoV.
  3. Learn about what you and others can do when faced with workplace discrimination.
  4. If you are a cisgender person, educate yourself about how to be a more supportive ally and friend to the transgender and gender nonconforming community.

Happy Transgender Day of Visibility! We hope it is a day of celebration, empowerment, and recognition for transgender and gender nonconforming folks everywhere.