Today is March 31 in Australia and, if you’re not one for keeping up with dates, Transgender Day of Visibility – the day for us trans folk who have the luxury of being out and proud to be known. We do this in the interest of making normal our oft scandalised, but ultimately mundane, humanity.
This year’s a tricky one, what with the world being shut down and all; if you look on the streets only one or two people are visible, and in the interest of public safety I recommend you don’t go near them. (They also appreciate it, I’m sure.)
That aside, I have an odd relationship with TDOV for a number of reasons.
- Being visible in a way that’s comfortable is a luxury that many of my brothers, sisters, and non-binary siblings cannot afford. A lot of us would rather not make a big song and dance about being trans, and prefer the comforts of blending with society at large; whether that be in the name of survival or just being sick of people staring.
- I’m a trans person who is visible 365 days a year, whether I want to be or not.
There’s a thing called ‘passing’ in our community, which means to appear indistinguishable from our cisgender (non-trans) cohorts. Some people think being able to pass lends legitimacy to our individual identities, I don’t.
Either way, it’s a thing.
The point is, I don’t pass, and for me that’s okay. Not passing doesn’t mean I’m any less the soft butch dream dyke I know myself to be, even though it leaves me open to misgendering, discrimination, and verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse.
It’s a sad state of affairs that the cost of wearing a skirt and some lipstick, making myself a bit pretty, seems to be the scorn of the world around me; because it doesn’t have to be that way.
I’ve yet to hear any sort of cogent argument for this status quo that doesn’t boil down to “I think you’re icky.”
I’m fortunate that I’m able to brush those sorts of people off, and that in my present day life, outside of governments and similar bodies, those views have no impact on me as an individual. (That wasn’t always the case, though – being born into a fundementalist religious household I was taught that people like me were destined for Hell, but that’s a story for another day.)
Others aren’t able to do that. There are so many trans people who don’t have the physical, let alone emotional, distance from those who would do them harm. Many of those harmful people are co-workers, peers, even family, from which the dream of escape can be impossible.
So this TDOV, and every other day, I beseech you all; spare a thought for the trans people in your lives, whether you’re aware of them or not. The world need not be a hostile place, if we’re allies to our fellow humans, and decent to each other.
You can do this by acknowledging our dignity, our humanity, and open yourself to learning about or lives and needs. It can be as simple as using our names.