Every year on March 31, we celebrate trans individuals and acknowledge the progress and accomplishments they have made for the trans and gender non-conforming (GNC) communities. While it’s important to recognize the hardships that trans people continue to experienced, Transgender Day of Visibility gives us a chance to honor achievements -- whether big or small -- that serve as major stepping stones toward trans rights and equality.
Here’s what transgender means to some notable and influential people around the world:
Laverne Cox is a famous actor who is known for her role in Orange is the New Black. She is an influential leader of the trans community, becoming the first transgender woman on the Cover of Time magazine as well as the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy. This is what Laverne has to say about being transgender: “Define yourself in your own terms. In terms of gender, race, anything. We are not what other people say we are. We are who we know ourselves to be, and we are what we love. That’s OK. You’re not alone in who you are. There are people out there who will love and support you. It’s about doing the work and believing and finding those people — if they’re not in your local community, there’s somebody online that you can talk to for support.
Former President Barack Obama directed over 150 federal, trans-friendly policies during his time in office. He states: “I think what you're seeing is a profound recognition on the part of the American people that gays and lesbians and transgender persons are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our co-workers, and that they've got to be treated like every other American. And I think that principle will win out.”
Janet Mock is a New York Times bestselling author and activist who has made history as a trans women of color. She reminds the world that "Self-definition and self-determination is about the many varied decisions that we make to compose and journey toward ourselves ... It’s OK if your personal definition is in a constant state of flux as you navigate the world."
Celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility today and everyday by educating yourself about the trans community and spreading awareness! You can support the trans community by:
Listening- if you are not sure what pronouns to use, listen! What pronouns is the person using to describe themself? What pronouns are the people close to them using? When in doubt, you can also ask! Listen to how they describe their own identity and use their same language.
Challenge anti-transgender comments- If someone says something negative or ignorant about trans people or makes a joke about their expense, stand up for them! You can tell that person that you don’t think the joke is funny or correct their misinformation.
Support all-gender restrooms- Some transgender people do not feel that male and female restrooms match their identity. Encourage your school and other community space to provide all-gender options or unisex stalls.
Know when to say you don’t know!- It is ok to not be an expert! If you don’t know something, it is better to say that then to maybe give wrong information.