Today, March 31, marks International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV). Trans Day of Visibility is a widely recognized day intended to amplify the voices of and empower the transgender community. Rachel Crandall-Crocker, a Michigan native psychotherapist, started the first TDOV in 2009. TDOV represents visibility for the transgender, nonbinary, and gender-diverse communities. Contrary to Trans Day of Remembrance, this day serves to empower and recognize trans individuals. This day sheds light on the importance of transgender representation and acceptance, as 2020 marked the single most violent year against transgender individuals.
One major part of TDOV is acknowledging both the accomplishments thus far and the work that still needs to be done for the trans community. Today, for instance, marked the first time that a United States president issued a presidential proclamation recognizing TDOV. President Biden was also the first president to appoint a transgender individual to a Senate-confirmed position in a presidential administration: Rachel Levine, formerly the Pennsylvania Health Secretary, now serves as Biden’s assistant secretary of health.
Statements and actions like these at the federal level represent important strides forward for transgender visibility, representation, and equality, but government actions are not enough on their own. According to Gallup, 11.3% of the adult LGBTQ+ community identifies as transgender or gender non-conforming. In the spirit of TDOV, it is important to compare that number to trans representation in the media. According to GLAAD, there are only “29 transgender characters across prime-time broadcast, cable, and streaming originals.” What’s more, in many media productions throughout history, transgenderism has been presented with harshly negative connotations that are, at best, unrepresentative of the community, and, at worst, openly transphobic. As a result, trans youth are growing up without characters that resonate with their gender identity and can be discouraged from expressing their true identity for fear of the discrimination and hate they see in media.
Non-binary, gender fluid, and transgender representation in the media is not nearly at the level it should be, but stars like Laverne Cox are continuous activists in this area. A pioneer for transgender visibility, Cox consistently uses her platform to amplify the voices of transgender individuals. Additionally, she speaks heavily on violence against the transgender community, specifically trans women of color.
There are many things you can do both today and moving forward to support the transgender community. The most simple thing is to take the time to educate yourself on trans history and activism. To broaden your education, consider attending one of the many TDOV virtual events. In addition to these opportunities, you can donate to a transgender organization in your community.
There is much work to be done in the world and here on our campus at Boston College. With consistent advocacy and policy work, we can push towards a more equitable and safe world for all transgender people. If you or someone you know is struggling, the LGBTQ+ National Hotline is (888) 843-4564 and the Trans Lifeline is (877) 565-8860.