The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Planned Parenthood Illinois Action to highlight transgender stories of joy, resilience

Anna Fedczuk

Individual identity calls for celebration in many different forms. Every year on March 31, the LGBTQ+ community celebrates International Transgender Day of Visibility. 

Transgender Day of Visibility celebrates and amplifies transgender voices while at the same time bringing attention to adversity the community faces year-round.

This year, for those in the Champaign-Urbana community looking to celebrate, Planned Parenthood Illinois Action is hosting a Speak Out on Saturday.

Due to Easter being on the same Sunday, PPIL said it is holding the event one day prior to the holiday itself to accommodate religious observation.

“I hope that trans people and their loved ones in attendance can find some hope and feelings of collective power on the day of this event,” said Jess Sturges, Program Manager of Advocacy and Campaigns at PPIL.

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Planned Parenthood is divided into two branches — health centers across America and the political action and advocacy-centered Action Fund.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund is a nonprofit organization that works to “advance access to sexual health care and defend reproductive rights,” according to its website.

Backed by over seven million supporters, the PPAF works at both national and local levels to create meaningful change surrounding sexual health.

PPIL’s Speak Out will feature storytellers of trans joy, resilience and celebration. 

“I’m trying to create a space where we can come together to hold each other close during this time to hear stories from our fellow Central Illinoisans,” Sturges said.

Sturges previewed a few of the speakers attendees can look forward to hearing from, naming Alana Banks and Alexander Martin.

Banks hails from Decatur, Illinois, and she made history as the first Black and transgender woman to be elected to a county public school board in the entire country.

“She’s a board member of the Board of Education of Decatur Public School District 61,” Sturges said. “She will hold office until she is up for reelection in 2025.”

Martin is queer, nonbinary, transgender, Black, white and Appalachian, according to her website. She works to celebrate and affirm her identity through a variety of different art forms.

Sturges shared that Martin is a founding member of the Peoria Guild of Black Artists, a drag performer, a professor of art at Illinois State University and a community organizer.

“You can find her performing engagements across southern Illinois,” Sturges said. “She showcases her other forms of artwork in spaces such as gallery shows, community activism and online engagements.”

The Speak Out will feature Banks, Martin and other notable transgender community members from the surrounding area in an effort to focus on amplifying transgender voices and stories.

“As a trans man myself, I think even when I see positive stories about transgender people and the trans community in the media, they can often be so one-dimensional,” Sturges said. “I really do feel like we become pigeon-holed into just visibility.”

Only three months into 2024, there have already been seven anti-trans bills introduced in Illinois, according to the Trans Legislation Tracker.

“We’re being so bombarded with anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ proposed legislation, which we are not at the table in creating,” Sturges said.

PPIL has a grassroots storytelling program that provides opportunities for people to share their experiences about healthcare and how Planned Parenthood has been able to help them, according to the PPIL website.

“Trans Day of Visibility seemed like a really great opportunity to engage some new people with this program,” Sturges said.

The event will create an educational space for anyone who identifies with gender-expansiveness, along with welcoming loved ones and allies.

For the purpose of cultivating safety, the Speak Out’s location is not being publicly released. PPIL asks that people register in advance at this link.

“It’s a wheelchair-accessible venue and it will have ASL interpretation,” Sturges said. “People should feel like they can bring their families and loved ones, whatever that looks like to them. Just please register.”

The Trans Day of Visibility Speak Out will be free of charge and take place from 2-4 p.m. on March 30. Venue information will be disclosed following registration.

“The bottom line is that nobody tells our stories better than we do,” Sturges said. “As the saying goes, there should be nothing about us without us.”


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About the Contributors
Sam Gregerman
Sam Gregerman, Senior Feature Reporter
Hi! My name is Sam, and I’m a sophomore majoring in English with a minor in creative writing. I was hired as a features writer in Fall 2023 after transferring to Illinois, and I began writing for buzz at the beginning of Spring 2024. I’m very excited to step into the role of Senior Feature Reporter and continue my contributions to The Daily Illini! If I’m not in the office, I’m probably next door at the Pi Phi house where I live, reading or watching reality TV. If you have any Champaign-Urbana events or topics you’d like covered, please send me an email using the button below! It is my goal to amplify community voices to the best of my ability.
Anna Fedczuk
Anna Fedczuk, Graphics Editor
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