What Visibility Means For Trans Folks
Written by D Ojeda, Policy Advocate at NCTE
Many trans advocates choose to remain visible even when attacks continue to be hurled against our community, especially our trans youth. If the Equality Act becomes law, it would dramatically change things for the better and federally prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
“ I just wanted to hang out with my friends” Stella Keating responded when a U.S. senator asked about her opinion on trans youth in sports. Stella, a 16-year-old girl from the state of Washington, is like any other kid and she also happens to be trans which is why she testified in front of the U.S. Senate in support of the Equality Act.
Stella chooses visibility when she shouldn’t have to. She shouldn’t have to talk about her gender identity — a journey that, for many of us, is very personal. Nor should she have to plead with adults, who are attacking kids trying to live full & healthy lives, to get treated like every other kid. Stella chooses visibility on a national stage so that many trans folks would be able to thrive in a safer world.
Visibility is a verb. Visibility means reclaiming our right to exist without fear and to share the same space as others without having to be something we aren’t.
Visibility is also a gift and a risk. Every day we choose to be visible in hopes that our world will change. In hopes that our future includes a future where a kid would be able to play any sport regardless of gender identity.
That a non-binary person would be able to share their pronouns at work without being mocked. That a sex worker would be able to feel safe and secure. So that a trans immigrant would be able to safely seek asylum. In hopes that one day, patients would be able to have access to hormones without a million questions or prove that it’s an essential part of health care. I want to live in that world.
This week, I will remember the giants who made my life better and I will also remember to be a foundation for the future of trans activism after me. While we all still have a lot of work to do, I hope that you take some time this week to experience joy.
Our elders wanted that for us. Reed Erickson, Marsha P. Johnson, Lorena Borjas, and Aimee Stephens wanted that for us.
While that seems like an impossible dream, it is a dream that we are all willing to fight for. Trans Day of Visibility is a moment for all of us to remember our strength and resiliency. It’s a time and a space to experience trans joy.
Even if you are not “out” (which is valid), take some time to honor yourself. You deserve honor, respect, and a world that is safe.