10 Ways To Support Trans Visibility
By Suzy Gonzalez
Today we celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility to bring attention to the accomplishments of transgender and gender non-conforming people by raising awareness of all that we can collectively do to achieve trans justice! Everyone deserves to live free of discrimination and harm, including those whose genders don’t align with what was assigned at birth. We all have a part to play in ensuring visibility and safety for transgender, gender-non-conforming, and non-binary people. Here are some ways to support!
Protect Trans Youth
More than 100 anti-trans laws were introduced across the U.S. last year. The recent bill in Idaho would make medical treatment for trans youth punishable by life in prison. The governor of Texas has attempted to violate the Texas constitution by investigating parents who allow their transgender children access to gender-affirming care. To affirm one’s gender is not a crime. Therefore, every voice is essential in standing up against these discriminatory blows towards the rights of our youth. Trans children experience a higher risk of suicide than cis children. A recent study by the Trevor Project confirms that access to gender-affirming health care can significantly reduce this risk. Some legislators currently considering bills related to transgender medical care represent Tennessee, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and New Hampshire. In addition to affirming medical care for youth, we must also look into anti-trans bathroom bills and recent sports bans. Call or write to your elected officials to voice that you are against these unconstitutional bills, that criminalizing health care is wrong, and that to truly protect our children, they must be free to access care that affirms who they are.
Include Trans Voices
Be sure to include and uplift Transgender and gender-non-conforming folks in your everyday life, in the workplace, in organizing, and whatever you do. While organizations might put out solidarity statements, little is often done to create trans-inclusive workspaces. Use whatever power you have in your work situation to voice and follow through with these concerns. And make it clear to any transgender folks in your life that they have your full support, especially if they experience discrimination in these spaces.
Do Your Research
Gender studies are for everyone! We are responsible for teaching ourselves about the history, rights, and language that involves trans and gender non-comforming experiences. Don’t rely on others to educate you, but do your own homework so that you can do better for those around you. Try starting with Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon or Trans Bodies, Trans Selves by Laura Erickson-Schroth. Research how transgender rights connect to the federal and state constitutions, Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and local laws. Be active in advocating for laws at your city, state, and federal level that prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, education, and more based on gender identity or expression.
Work Against Cissexism
Cisnormativity and Cissexism are oppressive systems that claim it “normal” to have a gender that aligns with one’s sex assigned at birth. They promote the gender binary and continue the oppression and exclusion of trans and gender non-conforming people. Since these prejudices are ingrained in our culture, we must proactively work on challenging and dismantling them. This effort is key to trans visibility! Remove gender binary language from your vocabulary. This includes addressing groups as “ladies and gentlemen,” speaking to individuals as “sir or ma’am,” or asking if a newborn baby is a “boy or girl.” These all continue the false idea that gender is binary. Remember that reproductive rights are not just for cis folks and that various genders experience cyclical bleeding. Please don’t leave out trans folks and experiences from your activist efforts. Just as with other “isms,” we are all capable of unlearning these harmful and outdated values. What’s important is recognizing when they manifest, informing ourselves and others, and working to overcome them.
Support Trans Creators and Businesses
Pride Month is not the only time to support queer and trans businesses! Seek out LGBTQIA+ small or local businesses year-round to aid those experiencing economic disparity. Follow socials and share posts. If you can choose where your money goes, don’t take it for granted! Read books, watch documentaries, and support artists who identify as transgender. Representation matters and this kind of support is essential for visibility. Check out events and festivals, such as Outfest (note their upcoming QTBIPOC Film Festival), QFest by @pridesainc, or Stargaze Festival.
Please don’t make assumptions about someone’s gender or pronouns based on their appearance or name. Instead, share your pronouns if you feel comfortable doing so, respectfully ask others for theirs, and remember them! It may feel awkward, but it will validate those involved! Respect people’s pronouns and names whether they are present or not, and correct others if they use the wrong name or pronoun for someone. Refusing someone’s pronouns when you are aware of them can devalue that individual and their personal, and likely difficult, identity journey. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and apologize. By taking this time to learn about someone, you practice inclusivity, acceptance, and the affirmation of trans folks!
Speak up when you hear transphobic or cissexist comments. Hateful and even accidental rhetoric doesn’t have to happen to someone’s face for it to be harmful. Whether you witness something in public or it happens in your own household, use your voice when you feel safe to do so. Listen to the concerns of those making the comments, and provide information and resources as an act of allyship.
Donate to the Cause
While many people support trans rights, we must be proactive in acting on what we believe in. We can advocate for or against laws, but we should simultaneously support trans solidarity through mutual aid. Reach out to see if you can volunteer your time and effort or donate money. You can donate funds to groups that have experience addressing the needs of transgender communities, which include these communities and actively work to meet their needs. Consider supporting any of these wonderful organizations, and do your research to find and support local groups in your area! Trans Pride Initiative @transprideinitiative, The House of Rebirth @houseofrebirth, Trans Women of Color Collective @twoc_collective, The Trans Latin@ Coalition @translatinacoalition, The Okra Project @theokraproject, Solutions Not Punishment Co. @snap4freedom, Youth Break Out @youthbreakout, Trans Lifeline @translifeline, Trans Justice Funding Project @transjusticefp, Princess Janae Place @princessjanaeplace, Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project @tgijusticeproject, Brave Space Alliance @bravespacealliance, For the Gworls @forthegworls, Black Trans Travel Fund @blacktranstravelfund, Black Trans Femmes in the Arts @btfacollective, The Trevor Project @trevorproject.
Consider Your Own Gender
Regardless of how you identify, chances are you don’t agree with every gender role that the binary has imposed on you. Consider how cisnormativity and the socially constructed gender binary affect you and those around you. And regardless of someone’s gender, we all make moves to affirm our gender identities. You are the expert on your gender—no one else! Remember, too, that gender is fluid, and only you can define yourself each day. Respect the genders and expressions of others the same way you want to be respected and affirmed!
Be an Ally All Year Around
Support transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary folks all year round. Supporting visibility doesn’t just happen once a year but should be advocated for as much as possible. As LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies, we must fight for everyone in the movement. There is always more that we can do!