Celebrating Our Wins on Trans Day of Visibility

by Logan Casey, PhD, senior policy researcher & advisor at MAP

Thirteen years ago today, transgender advocate Rachel Crandall established Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV), an annual event to celebrate transgender and nonbinary people while also recognizing the discrimination our communities face worldwide. Now more than ever, TDoV is an important reminder to celebrate the strength, joy, and leadership of transgender and nonbinary people, especially amid a surge of unprecedented efforts by state legislatures across the country targeting transgender people.

As a transgender person myself, it is often with a heavy heart — and always with a deep sense of responsibility to our community — that I update and maintain our Equality Maps tracking these laws and policies in the midst of one of the worst legislative sessions for transgender people on record.

In 2021, Arkansas became the first state to ban best-practice medical care for transgender youth, and over half of states have considered similar bills. Last month, Texas ordered the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to begin investigating families of transgender children for potential child abuse. And just in the past week, four anti-LGBTQ bills were signed into law in Florida, Oklahoma, and Arizona — all targeting transgender youth.

Dozens of states have also considered or passed bills that undermine a safe school environment for students, especially transgender youth. This includes bills banning transgender students from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity — and the number of these bills more than tripled from 2020 to 2021, with many states continuing to introduce these bills this year.

And yet, transgender people are still thriving and working in the community to create a world of safety, love, and support.

In my work with MAP, I’ve written about incredible trans-led grassroots and advocacy organizations like Gender Benders and the Nationz Foundation. These organizations and many others serving transgender people in the U.S. South, in rural communities and big cities alike, give us blueprints on how to build coalitions and nurture community.

Trans leadership and innovation also show us ways to simultaneously meet immediate needs and address problems like economic insecurity at their root. The Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico’s Thrift-A-Lot store, for example, empowers transgender and nonbinary people through job opportunities and wraparound support — especially critical given the high rates of discrimination and other barriers to employment that transgender people face. And through legal services provided by LGBTQ community centers across the country, transgender people are getting the help they need to change their legal name to better reflect their gender identity and reduce their risk of experiencing discrimination.

I am reminded of the strength, joy, and leadership of transgender people when I see this incredible work, activism, and community-building happening across the country. I am reminded of our resilience when I see transgender kids and their families meeting with lawmakers to share their stories of love, faith, community, and how harmful bills will impact them.

I also grieve that resilience is something we must measure ourselves by, and I give thanks for everyone working for a day when our humanity is no longer contested or legislated. Their stories — our stories — are reminders of the strength of transgender people and the importance of love, acceptance, and community.

Only three months into 2022, we know it’s already been an impossible year for transgender people, for parents of transgender kids, and for advocates working on behalf of transgender and nonbinary communities.

But today, on Trans Day of Visibility, let’s take time to honor our successes and joys as we continue to create a world where all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, be safe in their communities, and take care of the ones they love.

Another world is possible, and I’m thankful to be part of the work to make it happen.

Together with Gender Spectrum and the Biden Foundation, we created a toolkit for parents with transgender and gender diverse children, including resources for families of faith and families of color.

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MAP is an independent, nonprofit think tank that provides rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all.

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