Guest post by Leo Richardson
I am pleased to introduce you to people whose lived experiences will help you better understand what it is like to be transgender.
Each year on March 31, we observe International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV). The purpose is to celebrate transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people worldwide. Founded in 2009, TDOV is a day to celebrate transgender people and their accomplishments. As a result, this brings awareness to the struggles and discrimination they continue to face.
While I can write about ways to honor TDOV, I can't speak to what it means to face these challenges. I've written about my son Leo extensively on this website. It's an honor to have him here to share his words.
With Visibility Comes Awareness
At the time of writing, there are currently 26 anti-transgender bills being worked on across the country by those who view transgender people as second-class citizens unworthy of rights or protection.
Lia Thomas is being socially crucified because people fundamentally misunderstand gender transition, how hormone replacement theory works, and the reality that transgender athletes have no "leg up" on cisgender athletes just because of their assigned sex at birth.
To see transmisogyny on full display during Women's History Month has been a looming reminder of how desperately we need days like Transgender Day of Visibility.
It is more important than ever that we, as a community of transgender people and allies, explicitly support the members of our community who are most affected by transphobia. Black transgender people face some of the highest rates of discrimination, unemployment, homelessness, and poverty among the entire transgender community.
Who are we as a community if we are not standing up and fighting for the most marginalized among us? As those of us who are at less risk of danger enjoy the privilege of sharing ourselves on social media and beyond, we have a duty to share resources and mutual aid to support those among us who can't so much as retweet a post with #TDOV on it for risk of experiencing violence as a result.
TDOV is not just for well-off, white, transmasculine, or androgynous people who pass easily.
TDOV is for the black trans woman still in the closet at 55. It is for the multi-racial intersex person who presents one way at work and another at home. It is for the disabled, the impoverished, the ones who can barely whisper the words out loud to themselves – let alone anyone else.
The power of those who choose to observe TDOV by sharing themselves, their transition journey, and their experiences with others is tangible. It can remind those still in the closet that they have full, happy lives ahead of them. Trans kids in Texas, Tennessee, and Florida deserve to see their own futures reflected in others.
Our rights as individuals are under attack, and we have a responsibility to defend them.
Trans joy is a blessing and a gift. I encourage those of you who are able to share your story and to read the stories of others. Know that we are here, and no amount of legislation will ever get rid of us. We will not be made invisible.
For those of you who are closeted either by choice or by necessity – I hope that you find peace, safety, and comfort knowing that your identity is valued and respected. You don't need to be out to a single person in the world to be trans and deserving of respect.
And lastly, to the allies reading this: when was the last time you donated money to a trans person of color? What actions are you taking to actively support trans people beyond posting on social media? There will be lots of fundraisers going around, both around TDOV and Pride Month, and I encourage you to take the opportunity to put your money where your tweets are.
Leo Richardson is a transgender man living in western Vermont. He is a communications professional who is passionate about queer and disability rights. In his free time he can be found painting or listening to records with his fiancé and two cats. You can find him on Instagram @lonesomelionman.
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