Why International Transgender Day of Visibility is important

Founded in 2009 by transgender activist Rachel Crandall of Michigan, International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) is an annual event occurring on March 31 dedicated to celebrating and raising awareness of the discrimination faced by their population and community worldwide, as well as a celebration of their contributions to society.
While Crandall recognized that it was important to mourn the loss of these people, she pointed out that the day fails to celebrate the living members of the transgender community, who continue to live as they truly are to honor the memory of those that we have lost. The first TDOV was held on March 31, 2009, and has since been managed by the U.S. based youth advocacy organization, Trans Student Educational Resources.

Since 2014, TDOV has been observed and celebrated by activists across the world, and on March 31, 2021, was officially proclaimed as a Transgender Day of Visibility by current president of the United States Joe Biden, stating, “I call upon all Americans to join in the fight for full equality for all transgender people.” This made Biden the first American president to issue a formal presidential proclamation recognizing TDOV.

As for the isolated campus community here on the Hilltop, we are privileged enough to see some beautiful shows of celebration, recognition, and memorialization of various transgender and or queer individuals when days like TDOV come around. When asked what TDOV means to them as a member of the queer community, an anonymous student at WLU spoke on how the day expands outside of them and it’s the education of other individuals outside of the community that truly matter. “Transgender Day of Visibility is a day where I feel like I can celebrate who I am and how I got to be the person I am today. It’s a day where people can learn about the trans experience. It’s a day where trans people can have their voices heard and hopefully have others listen as well. But most of all, it’s a day where trans people can be seen and valued for simply being human.”

As a member of the Queer community myself, the student and I spoke at length on how important it is for this kind of representation to take place on campus, and how, when such recognition takes place, there is a universal experience between all members of the greater Queer community that is shared and felt – the feeling of being respected and seen. Speaking to the trans community specifically, the student went on to discuss the weight of little things that take place every day here on campus by saying, “Simply being able to see a few trans pride flags on campus can really boost my confidence and mood for the day because being a trans individual is a tiring experience that places a burden on you most days.”

When the conversation turned to what our home here on the Hilltop can do to make everyday a visibility day for members of the Queer community, the student began to speak on things like a community closet that could ultimately cater to trans individuals who are seeking out gender affirming clothing, a bulletin board where the latest news and events in Queer culture could be posted, or more gender-neutral bathrooms here on campus. With each new idea, the student continued to return to the principle of transparency as something for our campus to aspire to by stating, “At the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. If you want us to feel visible and recognized, then the campus has an obligation to aid us in some tangible way. This not only alleviates the daily struggles that Queer people experience, but when people who are not Queer see or hear about the actions the campus is taking, this normalizes those lived experiences and opens up the door for conversation and reflection on the beliefs people may hold about Queer experiences.”

While we still have some ways to go, every day we continue to grow closer to a world where these individuals are seen, respected and heard every day of the year. For TDOV, the Office of Housing and Residence Life will be giving out free informational material and Pride merchandise in the Student Union Ballroom from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.