By Leela Ginelle, PQ Monthly
March 31 is Trans Day of Visibility. Founded in 2009 by trans woman activist Rachel Crandall, the event is meant as a positive counterpart to the more somber Trans Day of Remembrance, which occurs each fall.
“I went on Facebook and I was thinking whenever I hear about our community, it seems to be from Remembrance Day which is always so negative because it’s about people who were killed,” Crandall said. “So one night I couldn’t sleep and I decided why don’t I try to do something about that. I thought, ‘Why doesn’t someone do it?’ Then I thought, ‘Why isn’t that someone me?'”
Begun in Crandall’s home state of Michigan, TDOV has since spread globally, with celebrations held last year in Ireland, Canada and Scotland.
Organizations have begun activism around TDOV, such as the trans specific group Trans Student Educational Resources, which works to make schools safe, affirming places for trans youth. Other folks, like the Michigan Law School LGBTQIA association the Outlaws use it as an opportunity to raise awareness via tabling.
Some cities observe TDOV, as a chance to support their trans residents, such as the Five Towns in Newfoundland, which, this year, will fly the Transgender flag at their Town Hall events. Portland has announced no such plans for this year (step it up Mayor Hales!).
While community events will occur around TDOV this year in some locations, such as Bakersfield, and Royal Oak, Michigan, on a broader level the commemorative date is still gaining steam, and, well, visibility, and isn’t as widespread as it could be.
Trans visibility is vital, of course. Thanks to trans celebrities, and television shows featuring trans storylines, public understanding of trans lives is increasing at a speedy clip. Trans people still experience staggering amounts of discrimination in our culture, however, resulting in disproportionate levels of poverty, unemployment, homelessness, violence and murder.
A Day of Visibility can’t change all of those things, but it can help counter the stigmas that contribute to them. Celebrating trans identities, as Crandall originally intended with her event, is a great idea.
Next year, perhaps in Portland we’ll have a TDOV party at the Q Center, or a march by the waterfront. Maybe there’ll be a ceremony at City Hall, complete with the transgender flag. I know I’d show up.