March 31 is the Trans Day of Visibility (TDoV). It is an occasion to honour 2 Spirit, trans, and non-binary lives, and celebrate their leadership and contributions. It is also a reminder to commit to protecting trans futures and advocating for trans rights through more visible and actionable allyship. A celebratory sibling to Trans Day of Remembrance, TDoV was created by activist Rachel Crandall in 2009.
Throughout Canada’s history, trans communities have led the way with wisdom, joy, excellence, and resilience and made strides through collective organizing, protesting and activism, education, the creation of art, the sharing of ideas, and so much more.
In 2017, gender identity and gender expression were written into the Canadian Human Rights Act. In 2021, conversion therapy was made illegal in Canada. Last year Canada became the first country to record trans and non-binary people in the census. Grassroots efforts have led to greater inclusion for trans people in the shelter system, children’s aid, healthcare, and other public services — but there is still work to do.
While TDoV presents us with the opportunity to work towards creating spaces where trans visibility is celebrated, it’s hard to ignore the onslaught of hateful rhetoric and continued misinformation levelled against trans communities. We see the painful and heavy toll of daily lies, online abuse, and misrepresentation in the media on our communities, in addition to the base-level realities of navigating the world as a trans person. We also recognize how some trans folks might not feel ready or safe yet to be visible, and that doesn’t make them any less valid. We see you. We love you. And we will continue to fight for and with you.
Trans people deserve to live safe and authentic lives, and to participate fully in society. They deserve access to affirming healthcare. Trans rights are human rights, and trans rights are not up for debate.
Visibility saves lives, but it can come at a cost of harassment or violence, and the public debate it sparks can be dehumanizing. Many trans people just want to live their lives with access to affirming healthcare, equal employment, food and shelter, affirmation, love, and dignity.
This isn’t too much to ask, but this work cannot be done alone. We need our policymakers and politicians to dismantle hate and confront anti-trans bills and laws. Each of us needs to name and address conscious and unconscious transphobia, internal and otherwise. It is up to us all to visibly confront transphobia every day.
Last weekend, at our Trans Care Fair, prominent trans activist and staff member Susan Gapka asked what the audience planned to do after they left, so that when TDoV rolls around next year, things will be better. It’s an important question, and one we should all be asking ourselves.
At this critical moment, we need to be intentional about how we support and celebrate 2 Spirit, trans and non-binary people, so that we can continue to celebrate many more trans futures to come. Whether it’s in your community, online, among your friend groups, at your job, at school, or in your family, how can you celebrate and uplift trans joy and excellence every day?
2323 – TDoV by The519