Since 2009, March 31 marks Transgender Day of Visibility. Celebrated by LGBTQ+ communities across the globe, this day serves as a chance to honor progress that transgender individuals and groups have made. It also offers a chance to improve the ways social services address transgender and gender-nonconforming communities.
What is Transgender Day of Visibility
Every year on March 31, communities across the globe gather together to celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility. The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) describes this day as a chance to “celebrat[e] the accomplishments of transgender and gender-nonconforming people while raising awareness of the work that still needs to be done to achieve trans justice.”
Although Transgender Day of Visibility has been around for over a decade, the United States did not formally recognize it until 2021. Today, it is celebrated through social media campaigns, LGBTQ+ festivals, and inclusive fundraising efforts.
Rachel Crandall-Crocker, a transgender psychotherapist from Michigan, first founded this awareness day in 2009. “I was upset that the only day that we had was Transgender Day of Remembrance, because I tend to get really depressed on that day,” says Crandall-Crocker.
“I wanted a day when, rather than talking about those who passed away, we could talk about those of us who were alive. And I wanted a day that would bring together trans people from all over the world.”
Why a Day of Visibility Matters
Visibility has always been—and continues to be—a critical part of transgender and gender-non-conforming care. Transgender individuals are at significantly higher risk of discrimination, which in turn increases the likelihood of experiencing adverse social determinants of health, domestic violence, and even suicide.
In fact, one study showed that more than half of transgender individuals experience some form of intimate partner violence. More than 1 in 4 of trans people have been refused healthcare service because of their gender identity; 1 in 5 experience homelessness sometime in their life; and around 29% live below the poverty line.
While these numbers might be discouraging, there is also evidence that visibility can positively impact a transgender individual’s experience. Efforts to share trans stories and educate others on trans issues can empower gender-nonconforming communities and make daily living safer and more meaningful for all.
Advocates hope that as visibility increases, the quality of life for transgender community members will similarly improve.
Social Services and Transgender Needs
The disparities in health- and human-service care that transgender people face mean that, more often than not, these individuals may need to rely on social services. Unfortunately, they may not always be treated with respect.
The White House recently issued guidance stating that discrimination on the basis of gender identity (which includes transgender people) is against the Fair Housing Act. Social-service organizations receiving HUD funding are required to abide by this law, though sometimes it is easier said than done.
Many health and human-service programs are indeed making great strides in providing better care for transgender communities. For instance, the Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network (JASMYN) uses its case management platform to better assess the unique needs of the transgender youth they serve, including regular reminders for HIV testing and resources for inclusive housing.
What Can You Do To Celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility?
The best part of Transgender Day of Visibility is how easy it is to participate. With an estimated 1.4 million transgender individuals living in the United States, all of us—especially health and human service organizations—likely know and interact with members of the transgender community every day.
Consider these tips below on how to celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility today and every day. As we make more effort to understand the unique circumstances that transgender and gender-nonconforming people face, our communities can become a safer, more enjoyable place for all.
- Ask people for their preferred pronouns.
- Share your own preferred pronouns. This can help reduce stigma.
- Use an individual’s chosen name instead of birth name.
- Use intake forms that list options for transgender people.
- Stay updated on relevant laws, debated legislation, and events.
- Get to know the transgender community around you.
- Share a social media post for Transgender Day of Visibility.
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