March 31 marked the sixth annual International Day of Transgender Visibility. Founded by Rachel Crandall, executive director and co-founder of Transgender Michigan, the event started as a way to combat the negative portrayal of trans people in the media, but has since become a widespread movement aimed at both coming together to celebrate transgender identity, and to put real faces to this issue as the fight for equality and recognition continues in schools and lawmaking bodies across the country. Crandall recently said in an interview with PrideSource.com,
"Being visible is the only way people are going to understand us, to actually see us and to actually meet us. If all they do is read about it, it's not going to feel real to them. They need to see our faces... Every year we have people...who say they have never been outside of the house like 'this.' And I want to say that this is their day. I want to say, 'This day is for all trans people on our planet.'"
Responding to this call to action, Twitter was...atwitter (not sorry) with transgender people and supporters across the entire spectrum of gender identity. Everyone was whippin' out the ol' selfie stick (or selfie shoe, if they felt like being truly on fleek of the week) and striking a pose in the spirit of community, support, and visibility.
While the day undoubtedly created an overall joyful noise across social media, it wasn't without a palpable undercurrent of urgency in regards to all the work still yet to be done in terms of equality and recognition for transgender individuals. As many on LGBTQ and ally organizations pointed out on Twitter, even as transgender people and their supporters celebrate the remarkable strides that have been made even since the International Day of Transgender Visibility first started, it is important to remember that there is still such a long way to go.
Even if the fog of bigotry has begun to dissipate, it has definitely not yet lifted, and trans people are still literally dying as a result. Tragically, many of these include young people like Leelah Alcorn who committed suicide last year and Blake Brockington just last week). But, with continued robust efforts, the future will hopefully continue to look even brighter, particularly for transgender youth. Events like International Day of Transgender Visibility are endlessly beneficial for not only humanizing transgender people, but for giving transgender youth a sea of actual faces to look to when they're feeling alone and marginalized simply for being who they are. It's a super important thing all around.
Happy Transgender Visibility Day, everyone! We're so happy to see you!
Images: Getty Images; Trans Student Educational Resources/Twitter(2)