As I feel the freedom to embrace my gender (or lack thereof), I also feel the weight of invisibility, of knowing that when most people look at me, they see a woman, someone they can call “ma’am,” “she,” and “miss.”
I feel, too, this crush of invisibility even among peers and loved ones. Sometimes it is nearly impossible to tell when someone truly sees me as nonbinary or when they’re just following along with my pronouns and not doing the internal work of deconstructing gender norms, ideals, and expectations.
I implore any cisgender person reading this to interrogate your own contextualization of gender, of how you gender the people around you, and how you interact with your trans and nonbinary peers.
Please remember that trans people are not homogenous. Nonbinary people like me don’t need to be androgynous to be recognized, addressed, and seen as our full, whole selves.
But Trans Day of Visibility is about much more than this. Visibility is not enough.
Visibility alone does not allow trans people to thrive; it does not grant us access to health care, housing, financial stability, job protection, safety, or anti-discrimination measures. I certainly desire to be more visible than I am, but I know that’s not the end: we need concrete action to protect trans lives.
As I type this, anti-trans bills targeting trans youth are moving in multiple states. Young people should be allowed to just be, but trans youth wake up each day wondering which state legislature will target them next, which lawmakers will seek to strip them of their right to access health care and the ability and freedom to pursue their dreams. We have a duty to fight for them.
As we fight for trans youth, we too must move in solidarity with Black, brown, and Indigenous trans people of any age who are too often victims of cisgender violence. Visibility and safety are not just for white trans people.
Every single trans person has the human right to lead a full, joyful life free from harm. As we celebrate trans people today and each day, we must also continue to work collectively toward justice.
There are a few things you can do right now. You can write your U.S. senators and urge them to fight back against transphobic legislation by passing the Equality Act. You can contact Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and demand he veto HB1570, a bill that would strip health care from trans youth. You can read trans kids’ thoughts about the Republican bills targeting their rights. Trans youth are so often left out of the conversation about legislation that will change their own lives. You can also donate directly to trans people as we work to improve material conditions for all. You can find many of those links on Twitter if you check out the hashtags #TransDayOfVisibility and #TDOV.
However you choose to support trans people today, I hope you will carry our shared work of liberation with you in all days to come.