Transgender Day of Visibility

Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV) is an international day of highlighting the existence and celebrating the achievements of people in the transgender community in terms of social justice, acceptance of the community and to acknowledge the of importance the transgender people in our families, social communities, employment and civic service at all levels of local, state and federal governments.

This international day of recognition occurs annually on March 31 since 2009 as a reaction to the lack of LGBTQ-plus holidays celebrating transgender people’s successes. TDoV serves to celebrate people who have the courage to acknowledge and live their authentic lives, promote the importance of the transgender community in modern society and to draw attention to the continued discrimination transgender people face in terms of living their daily lives, employment, education, health care services and general acceptance.

We often confuse a person’s sex with their gender. A person’s sex is determined by their physical anatomy at birth. Gender is in our minds: How we see and think of ourselves, who we know ourselves to be, how we express who we are to other people around us.

In our culture, we quantify sex and gender as a binary of possibilities — female/feminine or male/masculine, with little room for variation in between. Transgender and gender non-conforming/non-binary, intersex and Two Spirit Native individuals transcend or cross over these traditional gender lines.

Transgender, the “T” component of LGBTQI-plus, refers to how we as a community identify, express ourselves and desire to be accepted, on a daily basis. Many people in society today view transgender as a “choice.” I can assure you this is not a “choice” to be forced to hide ourselves from those we love, live or work with fear of rejection by family and friends, harassment, loss of employment, loss of access to medical or behavioral health care services, denial of social services, denial of public accommodations, housing, physical or verbal assaults or the very real possibility of being murdered.

These are not “choices” we make. We are not looking to be changed, fixed or forced into a lifestyle deemed socially acceptable. Being transgender is not some new social phenomena to be debated or discriminated against. We have existed throughout time, history, cultures and globally.

Millions of people worldwide have had the courage to “come out,” to announce to those around them their authentic selves. Coming out in the LGBTQI-plus community affects not only the individual person but also those around them. This is especially true of transgender people. Not only does the transgender person transition, but everyone around them does as well as they bid goodbye to the former person they thought they knew and hopefully accept a new much happier person to come. Often, we use the image of a butterfly who starts life as a caterpillar, grows and slowly develops, finally transforming into a beautiful butterfly, which spreads its wings to enter the world as a completely new entity ready to lead a new life from that in which they previously existed.

I am heartened to see the recent surge of transgender people running to serve in elected office at all levels of government but most especially in higher profile positions such as Sara McBride, the first openly transgender person serving as Congresswoman in the great state of Delaware. Dr. Rachel Levine serves as assistant secretary of health, making her first openly transgender high-ranking U.S. government official.

I am heartened by our allies and supporters, such as Congresswoman Marie Newman, displaying a transgender flag in the halls of her U.S. Congressional office! Thank you Congresswoman Newman!

We’ve seen several high-profile people in the entertainment, sports and fashion worlds come out as transgender in recent years, including Andreja Pejic, Candis Cayne, Jazz Jennings, Nicole Maines, Chris Mosier, Hari Nef, Laverne Cox, Carmen Carrera and Elliot Page, just to name a very few. This list is continuous and could easily fill this page.

Still, the transgender community faces harsh backlash against our very existence. Several conservative states actively work to deny our very existence and survival rolling back many hard fought for rights and protections. These states are passing laws to criminalize or flat-out ban health care for transgender youth as well as making it legal for health care professionals to deny medical care for transgender people based on religious beliefs of the health care provider.

I am thankful to live in New York state, which passed a series of progressive reforms since 2019 to protect our community including the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA — originally passed into law in 2010, became effective in 2012 and most recently updated in 2019), Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), Ban on Reparative Therapy, Walking While Trans, Gender Recognition Act and legislation allowing transgender people to access public accommodations as needed.

New York’s Safe Haven Act passed in June 2023 bars state courts from enforcing the laws of other states that authorize a minor to be removed from their home if their parents or legal guardians allow them to receive gender-affirming health care. The law prevents state law enforcement from cooperating with out-of-state agencies regarding “the provision of lawful gender-affirming care” in New York. It prohibits New York courts from considering gender-affirming care for minors as child abuse, (unless such conduct would constitute abuse under the laws of this state). Additionally, the law makes New York a “safe haven” for the trans community by ensuring New York will protect transgender youth, their parents and their doctors.

“As other states target LGBTQ-plus people with bigotry and fear mongering, New York is fighting back,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said when the Safe Haven Act was passed. “These new laws will enshrine our state as a beacon of hope, a safe haven for transgender youth and their families, and ensure New York state will continue to lead the nation on LGBTQ-plus rights.”

If you are an ally, supporter, accomplice or member of the transgender, gender non-binary/non-conforming, intersex, or Two Spirit (First Nation and Native Peoples) community, I wish you all a very wonderful Transgender Day of Visibility!

— — —

Kelly Metzgar is the executive director of the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance. She enjoys “living in our great and wonderful community of Saranac Lake!”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today