The world can feel like an unknown and daunting place for many of us. It can get particularly difficult to stand out and feel heard and seen. Sometimes, the world doesn’t give you the space and time to be yourself, and your identities start to feel like a burden. For members of the transgender community, these struggles are much more pronounced and an everyday part of their lives.
The transgender community has been historically subjected to the worst forms of discrimination, stigma, and violence. Even in the 21st century, when we claim to have crossed several historical and conventional barriers, the trans community continues to live cornered and harassed for simply who they are. This is why trans visibility is important.
Trans people continue to fight and leave their marks on this world with their authentic selves. International Transgender Day of Visibility is our opportunity to celebrate their experiences, contributions, and their undying spirit. It is about acknowledging their uniqueness and the contributions they make.
On this Trans Day of Visibility, let us dive deeper into the day’s importance and how you can be an active part of it.
But first, do you know what being transgender means?
The term transgender has different meanings for different people. In an accepted and broad definition, it is an adjective used to describe people whose gender identities are different from the sex they are born with. Trans people can identify themselves as trans men or women, or use other terms to describe their gender identity.
The following identities and expressions fall under the transgender umbrella:
- Non-binary: Many, including trans people, identify themselves as either male or female. Non-binary individuals are the ones that identify with neither.
- Gender-nonconforming: Gender non-conforming describes a person whose gender expression does not align with the societal expectations of the gender they are assigned at birth.
- Queer: It is used to describe people whose gender identity is not heterosexual. For them, terms like gay, lesbian, or bisexual are too limiting. However, queer was once used as a derogatory term and has since been reclaimed by some members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Therefore, practice caution while using the term.
Now that you have a basic idea of what it means to be transgender, let us understand the meaning and importance of Trans Day of Visibility.
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Why is International Transgender Day of Visibility celebrated?
International Transgender Day of Visibility is marked on March 31 every year globally to celebrate the lives of Trans people. It is different from the Trans Day of Remembrance, which aims to honor the lives lost due to trans violence.
Trans Day of Visibility is built around the principle of visibility. When we truly see someone, we are much more likely to understand them, empathize with their struggles, and acknowledge their importance. It is a day devoted to celebrating the accomplishments and lives of transgender, non-binary, non-conforming, and queer individuals while spreading awareness in societies across the globe to take potent steps to erase the stigma around them.
First started in 2009 by a US trans rights activist, Rachel Crandall – Trans Day of Visibility gained momentum around 2014. In 2021, President Joe Biden called upon citizens of the country from the White House to celebrate March 31 as the Trans Day of Visibility.
The day holds deep importance due to multiple reasons. At first, it allows us to celebrate trans lives. The community is often underappreciated for the contribution they make to they make toward society and the world as a whole. Additionally, the trans community is also misrepresented in the mainstream narrative. Visibility Day is a step forward to hear their stories and give them the center stage to express who they are.
How Can You Be A Trans Ally And A Part Of Trans Day Of Visibility?
We at Your Mental Health Pal believe in equality. Here are a few things you can do to be a trans ally and celebrate the Transgender Day of Visibility:
Listen to the stories of trans people. Find what their struggles are and what they have been fighting against. You might not know the extent of transphobia in the world, but there are people who experience it every day. They can tell you the things they see and endure every day. This way, you lend an ear, a shoulder to cry on, and help people feel seen and heard.
2. Do not make assumptions about people’s genders.
People’s gender identities are different from their sexual orientation. Sexuality is used to describe who we are attracted to, whereas gender identity is our own sense of being a female, male, or outside the gender binary.
Additionally, people’s sexuality is personal. It is none of your business until they reveal it to you.
3. Respect people.
You don’t have to understand the transgender community fully before starting to respect them. A lot of people have not heard or understood what being transgender or non-binary is, which is okay. It is okay not to understand people’s identities. But you should always strive to be respectful in all circumstances.
4. Resist anti-trans legislation.
Multiple news organizations have reported several anti-trans legislations in the pipeline in the US that can significantly hamper the lives of trans people. Resist such laws. Find ways to contact your local legislature and make your stance clear.
5. Do not be a silent bystander.
When you see something transphobic, report it. Shut people down who make backhanded comments and joke about trans people. Stand up for friends and strangers alike. No one deserves to be abused or harassed for who they are. When you don’t speak up, you are in some way taking the side of the abuser and justifying their actions.
Transgender Day of Visibility is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the lives and experiences of trans people. By coming together to celebrate this day, we can work toward creating a more empathetic, accepting, and loving world that allows us to be whoever we want to be freely.
Now that you know about the Trans Day of Visibility, let us take you to another important day that aims to celebrate our diversity and end discrimination. International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a day to highlight and address the issue of racism. To read more about it, click here.
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