More Than Gender: Visibility Vs. Awareness


Visibility. Stop and think about what that word means to you. The definition of the word visible: the ability to be seen.

Now… ask yourself this, how many people do you physically see every day? How many of those people are in the LGBT community? Are you aware of just how many of passers-by might be transgender, perhaps? Most people believe they can point out the average gay man or lesbian woman, but appearances vary under the rainbow as much as they do beneath the cisgender umbrella; cisgender, meaning people who are comfortable with their gender assigned when they were born.

We’re rapidly approaching March 31, the Transgender Day of Visibility. The Transgender Equality Network is preparing what will, hopefully, be one of the most outreaching events yet. Many equal rights milestones have been reached this year, including marriage equality; The Fayetteville city-wide ordinance to protect equality was a fight hard-won, and was just ordered into effect earlier this week. The Transgender Day of Visibility (or TDoV) began being celebrated nation-wide in 2010 to bring awareness to the fact that transgender people exist. Since we’ve finally breached visibility, our goal is now making the public aware that we are human. We deserve to not feel the need to hide ourselves, or go out in numbers to assure safety. There’s no joy brought in being afraid of your own shadow.

The big word of the week is awareness: knowledge or perception of a situation. Sadly, most gender exploration is considered taboo; it’s something that, according to most of society, needs be done in the dark. Plain and simple: This is not the way things should be. We are all people. We laugh, smile, bleed, bruise, and seek simple, happy lives exactly the same as everyone else.

In this case, we’re going to use ‘awareness’ to combat simple ‘visibility’. As a whole, the transgender community gets labeled by society as a negative influence on everything we involve ourselves in, from religion to social environments. This discrimination can easily be compared to racial civil rights movements of the 20th century, where anyone that wasn’t one of the majority had separate places that they were gathered in for safety. This sounds very similar to what most transgender people face each day: going to lunch in numbers, church in numbers, and sticking within their own social circles to maintain safety and understanding.

This year’s nationwide TDoV theme is “More Than Visibility”, meaning it’s time for the transgender people and it’s allies to come together declaring our right to fit in to the workforce, churches, schools, and communities. If you were to search “Transgender Day of Visibility”, you’d be surprised how few results there are, despite the fact that we are everywhere. We will continue to be here, despite any public movement against us, as a whole. We will thrive.

Mark your calendars: March 31 is the nationwide Transgender Day of Visibility. Stay tuned for the Transgender Equality Network’s announcements on when and where our own celebrations for such an important day will be held.