Transgender Day of Visibility encourages positivity

By Lillie Salas, Features Editor

At a time when the United States is filled with high tensions due to rekindled conversations surrounding legislation and human rights, the transgender community continues to celebrate its identity. The Transgender Day of Visibility is celebrated March 31 as a day to acknowledge and celebrate the community. 

Due to a society structured deeply in binaries and relying heavily on gender-conforming arrangements, it can be hard for transgender people to discover their most authentic selves. 

Syd Mark, junior in LAS, said the period of isolation during quarantine allowed him to delve deeper into the person he wanted to become. 

“I didn’t have a bunch of cisgendered people watching me and I didn’t feel their gaze on me,” Mark said. “I found out, through being isolated, that it was really affecting me. I really gained a more confident version of myself that I have been sticking with today.”

“Regardless of the fact that now we’re back in person and I have more cisgendered people around me, I have more confidence walking into a space and taking up space for myself,” Mark said.

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Experimentation was important, according to Mark. He began to “mess around” with gender and encouraged people to do the same. 

Gender is a social construct, not to be defined the same as sex. Transgender people acknowledge the concept of gender controlling most aspects of society and it can be hard for individuals to get to know themselves in a real sense.

Ellis Mack, freshman in LAS, realized how much society forced gender binary onto them when they had the opportunity to connect with other transgender people.

“I realized (societal gender norms) summed up a lot of my discomfort and I realized, ‘Oh the reason I hate all of this and all of these aspects of my identity society has pushed on me is because it’s not who I am,’” Mack said. “It’s not something I need to acclimate to because it’s not who I am.”

The day of visibility can be a time where the community is able to reflect on their journey and allow people who do not identify as transgender or gender non-conforming to learn. 

The transgender community makes up a small percentage of the total U.S. population and is estimated to be 1.4%, according to a study from June 2022 by the Williams Institute through University of California at Berkeley. 

Transgender people feel that it can be hard to see representation in the media that is accurate and optimistic, which leads to false narratives of transgender people being spread due to ignorance.  

Mack said the day is used for others to turn to transgender people and ask of their needs. He feels that the day has the power to bring the conversation back to the community to focus on positive stories about transgender people.

“The visibility we’ve been getting is very demonized, punitive and disrespectful,” Mack said. “For me, I’m focusing on why trans people and their bodies are so sacred and special, what we are consistently bringing to the conversation and to the media. I’m just having fun with myself today and appreciating how I show up for my loved ones. Why being loved by a trans person is so awesome.” 

Along with the potential of creating more understanding during the day of visibility, Mack said it also has the power to allow people to celebrate a part of themselves that had been previously shunned. 

“This day is important to me in particular because the community I grew up in was not very supportive of trans people,” Mack said. “For me, the day of visibility is like, ‘It doesn’t have to be that way.’”

Mack stated that they did not grow up in an environment that was highly accepting of the transgender community, but they were able to find themself when they were connected to resources that supported their gender exploration. 

“Even if you don’t have anyone within your immediate vicinity that can help you understand or just be there for you, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there who are going to be able to listen to what you are saying,” Mack said. “I’d really say get involved, do your research and reach out to people. People can help you and people can empathize and take you out of a space that feels really uncomfortable.” 

Mack emphasized there are many online forums to connect with people in the LGBTQIA+ community that are able to help individuals struggling. 

The journey of discovering an individual’s gender identity and orientation can be daunting, according to transgender people, but it is helpful to find a safe space where someone can speak to others about the process. 

The University has over 10 different groups devoted to helping students who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as providing safe spaces for students discovering themselves or wanting to show allyship with the community. 

However, transgender issues and topics do not disappear after the day of visibility. Mack said actions to help the community can be done on a day-to-day basis that could provide safer spaces for individuals who need them.

Mack said encouraging people to use pronouns on social media, asking professors to utilize pronouns in class, correcting transphobic language and correcting someone if they have misgendered a person can all be integral to creating positive reform wherever someone is. 

Beyond this day, Mack says to promote empathy and kindness to, not only the transgender community, but the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole. 

Both Mack and Mark said they want people to tell the transgender individuals in their lives that they are valued, loved and important. Not just on the day of visibility, but frequently in these times of hardship.

“Keep remaining rooted in yourself because who you are and what you bring to the table is so unique, awesome and special,” Mark said. “Because we live in such a binary structured world, people just don’t understand the type of rich and beautiful practice in life that trans people are bringing. What you are living everyday is not deviant, it’s stunning.”


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