Trans Day of Visibility takes place every 31 March. It marks a time to celebrate trans and non-binary people, and to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by the community worldwide.
It also provides an opportunity for trans and non-binary people to feel seen through positive and realistic representation – and for allies to learn more about how they can stand in solidarity. Visibility is crucial. Without exposure to others who think, feel, and live in a similar way to us – especially for those who exist outside of society’s norms – we can feel lost and alone. Visibility allows community to bloom, and for people with shared lived experiences to form bonds across borders.
Visibility allows community to bloom, and for people with shared lived experiences to form bonds across borders.
When learning about trans and non-binary experiences, it’s important to understand the diversity of this community. We can only do this by listening directly to trans and non-binary voices, and by learning about our history. This year, we’re spotlighting a range of trans stories from the UK and beyond. Hear from trans couple, Jack and Hannah Graf, about their journey into parenthood. Explore the very common misconception that all trans people have had, or must undergo, surgery in order to be valid in their identity. Or learn about the history of Berlin’s Institute of Sexology, one of the first institutes in the world to offer gender-affirming surgeries to trans patients.
It’s also crucial for Western communities to broaden our understanding of trans identities on a global scale.
It’s also crucial for Western communities to broaden our understanding of trans identities on a global scale. This helps us recognise and unlearn Eurocentric understanding of gender, to understand the long-lasting impacts of colonialism on citizens of post-colonial countries, and to challenge ongoing racial injustices worldwide. After all, trans and non-binary identities are not new or unique to any one demographic.
While communities around the world may use different terminology, gender-variance has long existed, persisted, and thrived. One such culture and community are the Hijras in South Asia. The West may group these women as transgender, intersex, or as castrated men, but in South Asia, the Hijra has been historically categorised as a third gender. While this categorisation provides certain safeties, the community is socially excluded and kept on the extreme margins of society. This leaves them both extremely visible and eternally invisible. While they often perform at events and bless babies, they also struggle to find secure employment, and many make a living through unsafe sex work.
This Trans Day of Visibility, we’re happy to share a short film by documentary film-maker Lily Vetch that offers direct insight into the Hijra experience, featuring an interview with Dhaka-based Rani Chowdhury and scenes of dance rehearsals with a male partner. With so much harmful rhetoric in mainstream media presenting trans and non-binary identities as a novel trend, today we’re drawing attention to the rich and diverse history encompassed under the trans umbrella, and amplifying the voices and experiences of the most marginalised members of the community.
Without action – and true systemic change that supports the needs of the trans community – visibility can easily create further instability.
So, visibility is important. But is it enough? While positive representation can lead to wider acceptance in society, trans people also experience concerted pushback. We’ve seen dozens of examples of anti-trans legislation sweeping through different states across the US in recent months, and trans people’s identities are treated merely as a debating topic in the UK media. Without action – and true systemic change that supports the needs of the trans community – visibility can easily create further instability.
Today, we all have a role to play. Along with sharing trans peoples’ stories far and wide, make sure to support campaigns and mutual aid networks, so that in the future trans people can be more than simply visible – they can thrive.
Follow Stoneall across social channels to listen to, and learn, from the stories they are spotlighting today.