Today is Trangender Day Of Visibility. It is usually a day for celebration, but at the moment I am not feeling very celebratory.
I am grateful for those who have chosen to fight this fight for the long haul and to the many allies who have been there over the decades. I am buoyed by the many, but incomplete, changes that have taken place over the past 20 years in which I have been part of this work, but it is not enough. It hurts to my core to see parents of transgender, gender non-binary, and gender nonconforming (T/NB/GNC) kids pouring out their hearts and souls year after year to make a better, safer world for their kids and feeling like they are alone and losing ground.
We are still being targeted for political and social gain on an expanding scale—beginning with eliminating protections for and banning services and activities available to our T/NB/GNC community – especially youth, all under the guise of protecting youth by citing questionable or disproven science, misrepresenting current well developed science, and playing on people’s fears of sensationalized unknown monsters.
Unfortunately, the great research by scientists, the brilliant work of social and psychological researchers, and the wide ranging public education efforts over two to three decades is not enough to overcome the attacks, the misinformation and the disinformation. There is only one tool that will reach the under-educated people around us—that tool is each of us, as individuals. We walk in the world with those needing to know more and are the ones they see.
We can only succeed if we are willing to be seen as our authentic selves in everyday life. Harvey Milk advocated within the Gay amd Lesbian community for people to come out and be seen, be recognized as who we are…trans people.
Trans people who are contributing to the everyday processes of society.
Trans people as grocery clerks, as teachers, as fast food servers, and as Lyft drivers.
Trans people who are parents, engineers, architects, nurses, doctors, pilots,carpenters, plumbers, bar tenders, trainers, business owners, dog walkers … human beings.
We are important to the workings of society, but when we stay in our own little cocoons the world does not know we exist or get to know us as fun and caring people. Those who could be our supporters only hear the words of the minority of folks who would want to see us erased and do not get to experience us as people.
While I hope every trans person would be willing to be visible every day all day, I understand that not everyone is able to do so. This means that a few will have to carry the weight for the many and the work will take longer, more of us will suffer and we will continue to take two steps forward and one and a half steps backwards. Unfortunately, until the world sees us in all aspects of life, we will continue to face an uphill battle for acceptance and inclusion.”
In Pride & Solidarity,
Erin Russ (she/they)
LGBT Chamber Board Member & Media Liaison