On this Transgender Day of Visibility, I'm here to celebrate trans people and our achievements. But it would be disingenuous of me to do that without first recognizing that this has been a hard year for all of us — and that the past four years have been especially difficult for the trans rights movement and for trans people.
During these challenging times, we've spent much of our energy just trying to hold on to our hard-won progress and claw back the rights that have been taken away from us. And yet, we haven't backed down, and we haven't given up. We have redoubled our efforts and made fresh strides toward being more visible. When we haven't been able to count on our government, we have stepped in and stood up for each other instead.
We've Made Political and Cultural Strides Forward
As we come together on this Transgender Day of Visibility, at least in the ways that are safely available to us — virtually, in our pods, or in socially distant gatherings — we are stronger as a community. And we see new rays of hope from our political and cultural institutions.
Thus far, the Biden administration has been more vocally supportive of the transgender community than any other administration in our history. Back in 2012, in front of a crowd of reporters, then Vice President Biden told my mother that trans rights are "the civil rights issue of our time," and his administration has repeatedly asserted that "trans rights are human rights." Dr. Rachel Levine will very likely become our first openly transgender Senate-confirmed federal official, and we have a historic slate of openly transgender elected officials serving at almost every level of government.
We also have an increasing number of popular and critically acclaimed shows created by, starring, and about transgender people, such as Pose and Disclosure. We've also seen trans and non-binary actors playing trans and non-binary characters in shows like Tales of The City, Supergirl, and Star Trek: Discovery. In addition, famous actors and performers like Elliot Page, Sam Smith, Indya Moore, Ruby Rose, Ezra Miller, and Janelle Monáe have recently come out as trans and/or non-binary.
We've Looked Inward During the Pandemic
The past year has also been a time of personal growth and self-discovery for many trans people. The pandemic has posed real and serious challenges for everyone, including trans people. But at the same time, our year-long lockdown has provided many trans and non-binary folks with newfound opportunities for introspection and self-actualization.
Just as many of us have realized that working from home means not having to put on suits and ties or heels and dresses, scores of previously closeted trans and non-binary people have realized they don't need to "put on" a gender that doesn't fit who they know themselves to be. And as more and more workplaces include pronouns alongside names in Zoom windows and email signatures, more trans and non-binary people have started to question whether the pronouns they were using felt correct.
Especially for people who use non-binary pronouns like "they/them" or mixed pronouns like "she/they," having pronouns displayed on-screen during online interactions provides an easier, less intimidating way to encourage people to use their correct pronouns and to avoid being misgendered all day — especially when everyone, not just trans and non-binary people, display their pronouns.
We've Got More Work to Do
Although our world continues to be a dangerous and often hostile place for transgender people like me, we continue to come out in greater numbers and redouble our efforts to achieve recognition of our basic human rights. As we increase our visibility, we learn that there aren't more of us than there were before, but that we've been here all along — each person waiting until it's the right time for them to become visible.
On this Transgender Day of Visibility, if you are trans and it's safe enough for you to do so, I invite you to join me in coming out and being visible as your fabulous self! If you aren't trans, I invite you to take this opportunity to learn more. Read articles and books by trans people that highlight our diverse life experiences and points of view, and watch some of the shows I mentioned earlier.
Ask yourself what you can do to make it easier and safer for the trans people in your own life to come out and be visible. You may not realize you have trans people in your life, but trust me, you do. We've been there all along. It might be that you just haven't seen us yet.
On this Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrate the lives of your transgender and non-binary family and community members and Join Us for Good!