Dates to know:
The International Transgender Day of Visibility is March 31st — Has been globally recognized since 2009.
The International Transgender Day of Remembrance, November 20th, more commonly referred to as TDOR, recognizes, remembers, and says out loud the names of our Trans and Gender Diverse or (TGD) Siblings who have lost their lives to hate crimes the current year—honoring the lives taken for living and being their authentic selves. In 2021 alone 375 of our global TGD siblings were murdered, the vast majority being trans women of color, and 70% of them in Central and South America alone.
TDOR was started in 1999 in honor of a trans woman named Rita Hester, who was murdered in Boston, Massachusetts. Today TDOR is recognized worldwide.
In 2008 “The Trans Murder Report” started keeping an accurate track of the murders, and many countries participate in the data collecting.
November, Transgender Awareness Month – In 2017 the Trump administration launched an unprecedented attack on the trans community, from twittering new laws to taking the word off the Whitehouse website and banning it from being used. To the best of my knowledge, FewayHealth was the first to declare the entire month of November as Transgender Awareness Month In 2018. (Fenway Health is an LGBTQIA health care, research, and advocacy organization founded by Northeastern University students and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.). In 2018 the city of San Francisco launched an entire month of events following suit. And their sf.gov website said, “Here in San Francisco, we celebrate Transgender Awareness Month to highlight the way that the community and the city are working together to advance equity for trans and gender nonconforming communities. This is also a time to ground ourselves in our observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day where we pay respect to the lives of the predominantly Black transgender women, we have lost to anti-trans violence. As transgender people are under attack across the country San Francisco will not rest until everyone in our community is thriving and has a safe place to call home.”
Stop shoving it down my throats – This is what I often hear from my relatives and loved ones who are not quite aligned with my moral and political values. Simply existing and living authentically is not shoving it down anyone’s throat. However, Visibility Matters, and it is quite literally a matter of life and death. Humans. Fear things they do not understand. That is fundamental human nature; why do you act like that or look like that, or smell like that? I don’t get it. It is a standard “Go To” response to something we feel is out of the norm. However, through exposure, we become desensitized. Through these days of visibility and awareness, we gain a sense of normalcy, and hopefully, that will come with some empathy, sympathy, and understanding.
Visibility Matters because you cannot remember what you cannot see. As a child, while I was growing up, other than “Fresh Prince” and “The Cosby’s,” our TV didn’t include people of color. Until “Ellen” and “Will and Grace,” our TV didn’t have LGBTQIA folx. Seeing, laughing, and enjoying these programs are vital to let the world know that not every human looks like the Skinny, Beautiful, Heteronormative, Cisnormative, and don’t forget Caucasian families that we are used watching and looking up to. We must bring visibility to the unknown and unseen communities like the Trans community. As a human family, we look, act, and love in a very colorful and beautiful way, which deserves representation and visibility.
However, the most important reason I believe transgender visibility truly matters is that children are our future. Our young people need to know that they are not alone. Whatever they are dealing with, sexual orientation or gender identity, for example. They need to know that other humans look, act, talk, love, and express their gender in the same way they do. It’s OK to be different, it’s OK to be unique, and it’s OK to be you. Visibility reduces self-harm and suicidal ideation, and it also reduces the fear of the unknown and therefore reduces bullying. Transgender Awareness Month is an opportunity of providing a place where those not in our community can recognize our existence.
They can recognize the beautiful greatness of Trans and Gender Diverse people. It’s a reminder that we are a part of your families, your friends and neighbors, your coworkers, your loved ones, your partners, and fellow travelers of this earth. It is an opportunity to put positive representation on TV and Print platforms so that others can see and learn. Receiving positive messages does a tremendous amount of good for one’s mental health, self-esteem, and suicidal ideation. Look, they are just like me! I’m not the only one. Yes, I know we cater to the mainstream audience with our media, but seriously, how many years did it take before a black actress received the Best Actress Academy Award?? Entirely, Way Too long!
It is OK to celebrate our differences, and it is OK to love yourself and live authentically, whatever that means to you. Yes, even if it means your brain is a different gender than your assigned sex at birth. And that your brain received a different amount of testosterone in the 3rd trimester than your Tubular (penis/clitoris) received in the 2nd trimester.
Trans people have existed for centuries; you can trace trans artifacts back to 7,000 BD. However, for our safety, most of us were “Stealth” or what gays would understand as “in the closet.” Living under the radar without the attention or distraction of others, living regular everyday lives undetected. Until many, like transgender activist Janet Mock for example, after living stealth for years, came out as trans to help bring awareness. We are not scary, and we are not something to be afraid of. We Trans and Gender Diverse individuals are beautiful, talented, intelligent, and successful. It is OK to be TransFabulous, and it is OK to be visible.
(Publishers Note: In the next issue we speak to Transgender people in our community and ask them what November – Transgender Awareness Month – means to them)