Trans Day of Visibility 2016

So, with Trans Day of Visibility drawing to a close, I’d first and foremost like to wish all my trans siblings a happy day of visibility, if you’ve had the chance. While the idea of a trans day of visibility was introduced almost a decade ago, we’ve had the opportunity to see it grow and become a relatively mainstream event among LGBT+ people in the past couple of years, and that’s something worth celebrating.

All too often, discourse around trans lives focuses on those that have ended – those whose lives we traditionally mourn on Transgender Day of Remembrance. Almost every conversation about trans people in the public eye is centred around the horrifying numbers of trans people that attempt suicide, successfully take their own lives or are murdered by those that don’t understand us, and while these are important conversations to be having, this day of visibility presents us with a unique opportunity.

Today, I’ve been thinking about what it really means to be visible. There’s so much more to it than just posting selfies online and being told that we’re beautiful whatever our gender, and that we’re an inspiration, much as that might be nice. It’s a chance for those of us lucky enough to be able to be out, and to be visible, to make ourselves known to those of us that maybe haven’t been that lucky. Yes, there’s a lot that’s frightening and dangerous about being a trans person, but we’re here! Against all the odds! We’re here, we’re smiling, and we’re not alone.

So many trans people are denied the chance at visibility because for some, coming out as trans would be an immediate risk to their livelihoods, or even their lives. For those of us that are out, and for those that aren’t, today is a display of solidarity. We won’t let those in power keep trying to insist that we won’t exist. We stand tall, and show the world that there’s far more to being trans than the tragedy porn that catches headlines. We make ourselves visible to prove that living as a trans person is not just for the rich Caitlyn Jenners of this world that can afford to have every surgery under the sun to look ‘acceptable,’ or for those lucky enough to be born into families that are supportive. Trans day of visibility is a chance to celebrate the huge variety of ways to be trans, to break the binary, exist on every point on the spectrum or off of it, and to give hope to those in our community who are silenced. Trans day of Visibility is about understanding the importance of being seen, being heard and being noticed, so that we might one day be listened to. It’s about making ourselves impossible to ignore, no matter how hard people try. It’s about sending a message of hope and solidarity, and showing love and pride to every trans person – not just those binary, cis-passing few we can see on the covers of magazines. This is about visibility for everyone, and I for one am so, so proud.

Your local grumpy trans guy, Gabe.

Afterword: To those of you reading this that are cis, support your trans friends, today and every day. For all the cis people who’ve done awful things to people like me, there are those that have been willing to learn. In my life, I’ve been beaten up in the men’s toilets on two separate occasions in the year and a half since I started passing often enough to use them, and for every blow dealt, there’s been at least one cis person who, since then, has volunteered to scout the bathroom’s out in advance, or to come with me, or defended me against transphobes that would only respect the voices of another cis person. Despite the jokes and horror stories about what cis people have done, there’s never any need to apologise. Just act. Raise us up. We wouldn’t be here without you.

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