The 31st of March is International Transgender Day of Visibility. It is a day to celebrate the lives and achievements of transgender people across the world. It aims to increase trans equality and empower trans people to live their lives freely and confidently. It began in 2009 and has grown rapidly each year since. Now thousands of trans people, their loved ones, families, friends, colleagues and allies take part in celebrating International Transgender Day of Visibility each year.
There are many different ways to take part in the International Transgender Day of Visibility. Here are three simple ideas for things you can do no matter where you live:
1. Listen to a wide range of trans people sharing their experiences
There’s no single universal trans experience, our lives are extremely diverse. Take the time to listen to as many trans experiences as possible and recognise how our lives are shaped not only by our genders but also by the intersections of other aspects of our identities, such as age, class, disability, race, sexual orientation, etc.
To start you off, here are some links to just a few different accounts of trans people’s experiences:
2. Use social media to raise positive transgender visibility
Be a visible trans ally and let your friends know that you support transgender equality. Taking care not to out any of your trans friends, share positive news stories, information resources and links to trans organisations on social media such as Facebook. Let your friends know that if they ever want some emotional or practical support in regard to trans issues, you are keen to help if you can.
3. Learn some of the history of trans visibility and equality activism
Throughout history there have been people who didn’t identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. While the terminology they used to describe themselves has varied over the centuries, they have always existed and been visible in their local communities. One way to find out more is to get hold of a copy of Transgender Warriors by Leslie Feinberg.
Trans activism didn’t start in just the last few years. Over the last century, trans activists have fought for equality in a wide range of ways. Many trans people around the world have taken to the streets in protest against police harassment – most famously Sylvia Rivera at the forefront of the Stonewall Riots in 1969.
Others have used the courts to push for legal rights. For example, in 1952, an upper class Scottish trans man, Sir Ewan Forbes of Craigievar, succeeded in getting his birth certificate changed from female to male. Unfortunately, the court records were made secret so April Ashley‘s lawyers were not able to access them during her divorce court case in 1970 which severely set back trans people’s access to legal gender recognition in the UK. Read Christine Burns’ brilliant memoir, Pressing Matters, to find out how key trans legal rights were secured in the UK.