These TDOV posts show that trans people need more than just visibility

If you’ve been out as trans for any length of time, Trans Day of Visibility might bring up a complex set of emotions for you. On the one hand, it’s wonderful to have gotten to a moment in time when visibility exists for us onscreen, in politics, and in daily life. But there are many problems that come with visibility, as the most visible among us know. We’ve all seen the terrifying statistics: anti-trans bans and laws are still at an all-time high as a direct result of our increased visibility, and that’s a hard thing to cope with. Yes, we want to be seen, and yes, we want to be safe. But increasingly it feels like those two things can’t quite exist harmoniously, especially as anti-trans legislation and rhetoric continue to escalate.

That said, we owe it to ourselves and each other to remain out and visible. If we can’t swoop in and save all the suffering trans kids out there from anti-trans laws, homophobic school policies, and uncaring parents and politicians hell bent on keeping them from gender-affirming care, the least we can do is show them that no matter how much this country tries to take away their childhood, a happy, healthy trans adulthood is waiting for them on the other side.

That’s not the only reason we have to remain visible. Harvey Milk’s philosophy was that the more people come out, the more straight folks will realize that gay people are all around them rather than some unknown, shadowy entity lurking at the fringes of society.

“Gay people, we will not win our rights by staying quietly in our closets,” Milk said in a speech on Gay Freedom Day in 1978. The same is true for trans folks. But we also need to be aware of how unsafe it still is to be visibly trans in this country, especially for Black trans women.

The posts we saw yesterday reflected so much of this mixed community feeling. We’re grateful to be here, but we need more than visibility and representation at this point. We need allyship. We need people who are willing to listen to us, and fight for us.

We need people who will show up for us in spaces where we’re not allowed, or not invited, or simply not listened to.

Most of all, we need to be given the space to be completely ourselves. We’re constantly fighting for our right to exist without harm being leveled against us. Sometimes, that fight can become too overwhelming to deal with. We need to be given the grace to just be people sometimes. That’s what TDOV has always been about: acknowledging the full spectrum of transness, and understanding the beauty and diversity of what our community has always been.

So whether we celebrated with chest pics or trolling or heartfelt messages of hope, we found a way to be seen.

And that’s what we’ll continue to do.

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