March 31, 2022, is the International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV). This day was founded in 2009 by Rachel Crandall, a psychotherapist and transgender activist. It was meant to highlight the accomplishments of transgender people and bring attention to the discrimination that they face. But what are visibility and awareness days anyway? And why are they important?
Visibility days and awareness days are designated to celebrate the achievements of people of a certain population and highlight the discrimination they face. No one could deny that there is a lack of representation of the LGBTQ+ community - in the media, politics, television and film, and a great many professions. Many schools do not include LGBTQ+ figures or topics in the curriculum. Recent legislation such as the controversial “Don’t say gay” law in Florida have even gone so far as to make it illegal for school personnel to discuss gender identity or sexual orientation with students. By taking the time to celebrate visibility days, we bring names and faces to a largely ignored, targeted and oppressed population. We celebrate the many accomplishments of LGBTQ+ people throughout history. We empower the next generation of LGBTQ+ youth and give hope and courage to those who may be afraid to live as their authentic selves. This is powerful. In today’s political climate, visibility days can help to encourage people to advocate for equal rights for LGBTQ+ individuals and combat stereotypes and misinformation.
According to GLSEN, there are many visibility and awareness days and weeks throughout the year. For the year 2022, these include:
September 16-23: Bisexual Awareness Week
September 23: Celebrate Bisexuality Day
October 23-30: Asexual Awareness Week
October 26: Intersex Awareness Day
November 7: Trans Parent Day
November 13-19: Transgender Awareness Week
February 20-26: Aromantic Awareness Week
March 21-25: National LGBT Health Awareness Week
March 31: International Transgender Day of Visibility
April 26: Lesbian Visibility Day
May 17: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
May 24: Pansexual and Panromantic Awareness Day
June 5-11: QTBIPOC Pride Week
July 14: Non-Binary People’s Day
“To really get out there for us, speak up for us, to write letters and educate your friends…that’s what we really need to focus on.”
In an article for the online newsletter them., TDOV founder Rachel Crandall explains that if she had it to do again, she would also ask that supporters of the transgender community use the Transgender Day of Visibility to become more visible as allies. “To really get out there for us, speak up for us, to write letters and educate your friends…that’s what we really need to focus on.”
So what can we all do to celebrate TDOV on March 31? Here are some ideas.
Wear pink, white and blue (colors of the trans flag) or a trans flag pin, etc
Learn about transgender history
Support a trans-led organization or an organization that supports the transgender community
Educate yourself about appropriate and respectful terminology pertaining to being transgender, and the differences between gender identity, sex assigned at birth, gender expression and sexual orientation
Call people out when they say something that is discriminatory or derogatory
Attend local TDOV events
Change your social media profile picture to a trans flag
Contact lawmakers to advocate against anti-tran bills being introduced throughout the country
Always use correct pronouns and chosen name when addressing a transgender person - and correct others if they do not
As for me, as the mom of a transgender son, I will be sure to give him extra hugs on March 31, celebrate his courage for living as his authentic self, and remind him that he is loved and supported unconditionally. Our transgender kids are at significant risk for discrimination, mental health struggles, self harm and suicidality, as reported by The Trevor Project. They need us to love them, affirm them, stand up for them and be vocal and visible as their allies. If you aren’t already doing these things, why not start on March 31? You can make a difference.
Rebecca Degnan, LPC, is the founder and owner of Prism Counseling and Support LLC in CT, supporting the LGBTQ+ community and their loved ones through individual, family and group counseling and professional development workshops for schools and businesses. More information at prismcounselingct.com.
The Trans Lifeline connects trans people to the community support and resources they need to survive and thrive. 877-565-8860