March 31st marks Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV). The day aims to bring awareness to transgender issues, discrimination and experiences while also celebrating people within the community. The day was first founded back in 2009 by American transgender activist Rachel Crandall. TDOV is also a day to encourage allies to educate themselves on trans issues and rights.
The importance of the day cannot be understated as anti-trans hate is rampant. Stats Canada reported a 64% increase in crimes motivated by sexual orientation from 2020-2021. “We’re seeing a lot of anti-trans hate and in the United States alone, there are 300 pieces of legislation right now that are specifically targeting trans people and the existence of trans people, and many of them with the intent to eliminate trans people from society,” says Marni Panas, a diversity and inclusion professional.
However, TDOV is more than a day of focusing on the suffering the transgender community has endured, it about the positives of the transgender experience. It is a day to recognize and acknowledge the trans communities place in the world, and that it should be one where they are free to live their lives and are treated with the respect they deserve. “It’s important to share narratives about trans people that are, again, you know, showing positive, healthy lives and living great lives,” says Panas.
TDOV offers the opportunity to uplift those within the Transgender community who may feel isolated or marginalized by society. “I didn’t know anybody who was like me. I didn’t meet anybody who was like me until I was probably in my thirties. And even then, the role models that we saw on TV and movies and such were very harmful stereotypes and tropes about trans people. And so, it’s essential, it’s really important to see and be visible in in the world and in society,” says Panas.
For people looking to be allies to the Transgender community educating yourself on the issues, discrimination, history and challenges faces by the community is a good place to start. Beyond that it’s important to search for a human connection within the community. “Take the time to get to know trans and non-binary people, take the time to get to know our lives, our journeys, and ask the question, How can I support you?” says Panas. Taking those first few small steps are a great way to build your allyship and create a foundation to further your support the community.