Transgender Day of Visibility is recognized on March 31st every year, as a day of celebration and awareness for the transgender community.
“I love that Transgender Day of Visibility is such a broad phrase because it can be celebrated in so many different ways,” says Cielo Sunsarae. Sunsarae is the founder of The Queer Trans Project, an organization led by Black and transgender leaders. The group provides gender-affirming kits and resources, like binders and undergarments, as well as financial support for trans people.
Transgender Day of Visibility is a great day to recognize and uplift transgender people and leaders. Unfortunately, not everyone within the LGBTQ+ community celebrates this day of transgender visibility, joy, and leadership.
Transphobia Within the LGBTQ+ Community
“As a trans person, I genuinely feel like the most transphobia that I receive, at least intentional transphobia, is from those within the LGBTQ+ community,” Sunsarae states.
Transgender people continue to face hate and discrimination across the world. 90% of transgender people have experienced discrimination at work, while transgender people are over four times more likely to experience physical or sexual violence compared to their cisgender counterparts.
Kat Rohn says that she has experienced transphobia since becoming Executive Director for Outfront Minnesota, a prominent LGBTQ+ organization in Minnesota. “I’ve personally received notes since stepping into this leadership role from folks who are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of having a trans leader within our community,” they shared.
Inclusion and Intersectionality
The lack of support and acceptance for transgender people within the queer community is a significant problem, as it creates a space that excludes certain identities, which is exactly what we should be fighting against.
“Simply put, I think intersectionality means making a space for everybody in an intentional way,” Sunsarae voices.
For the LGBTQ+ community, being inclusive and intersectional goes beyond accepting different gender identities and sexual orientations. It’s also about acknowledging how other parts of identity, like race and class, lead us to experience the world differently.
Black transgender people continue to experience violence at disproportionate rates. In 2022, 81% of transgender people killed were people of color. Transgender people are also more at risk of police violence and domestic violence than other people in the LGBTQ+ community. Without recognizing the range of issues that impact people within the LGBTQ+ community, we can’t truly support and advocate for each other.
What Needs to Change?
Transgender Day of Visibility is a reminder that the LGBTQ+ community is not always inclusive to everyone and that we still have work to do internally. At a time when transgender people are facing so much violence and discrimination, it is more important than ever for the community to come together against hate. So, what needs to change?
As we recognize and celebrate Transgender Visibility Day, transgender leaders reiterate the importance of support from the community. “The tension in visibility is that there’s a lot of power and beauty and strength in visibility, but if visibility doesn’t come along with the support from the community, it is also a place of deep vulnerability and risk,” says Rohn. “It’s about trying to take the power in [Transgender Day of Visibility], but also asking folks around us to step up and recognize that that visibility needs support or it will come with a cost.”
Sunsarae emphasizes how critical it is for the community to support each other and be united. “We. Need. To. Stick. Together.” He asserts that the community is divided, which we need to address in order to effectively make change around queer and trans rights. “Transphobia in the LGBTQ+ community is something we need to work on internally before we even go out there and try to mobilize…the other side,” they state.
Hailey Dickinson (she/her) is a creator passionate about using writing and digital platforms to build community, make connections, and ignite positive social change. She is a Communications Major with a social media emphasis at the University of Minnesota and will graduate in December 2023.