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Derek Trans Day of Visibility

Trans­gen­der Day of Vis­i­bil­i­ty: What Being Vis­i­ble Means to Me

By Derek Sul­li­van, CCPRD Sub­stance Use Pre­ven­tion Services 

Today is Inter­na­tion­al Trans­gen­der Day of Vis­i­bil­i­ty, an annu­al event ded­i­cat­ed to cel­e­brat­ing and acknowl­edg­ing trans* indi­vid­u­als around the world while also rais­ing aware­ness of the dis­crim­i­na­tion and vio­lence the com­mu­ni­ty faces. While we may be think­ing, I don’t know any­body who’s trans­gen­der”, take into con­sid­er­a­tion that we don’t know the sto­ries of each and every stranger that we inter­act with. In our het­ero­nor­ma­tive and bina­ry-enforced soci­ety, we assume that every face we meet is cis­gen­der. How­ev­er, the HRC Foun­da­tion released this video to dis­pel those myths, not­ing that there are more than 2 mil­lion trans­gen­der peo­ple in the Unit­ed States alone. The trans* com­mu­ni­ty has been here the whole time, exist­ing in our fam­i­lies, friend groups, neigh­bor­hoods, and com­mu­ni­ties. We have all met a trans­gen­der per­son, we just might not have known.

Still think you’ve nev­er met a trans* per­son? Then let me intro­duce myself: Hi, I’m Derek and I use he/​him/​his pro­nouns! I iden­ti­fy as a trans­gen­der man, and I am com­mit­ted to being a vis­i­ble mem­ber of my com­mu­ni­ty in the social spaces that I occu­py. I came out as trans* after high school and took going away to col­lege as my gold­en tick­et” to explor­ing my gen­der iden­ti­ty. In the begin­ning, I felt very vul­ner­a­ble, as if there was a spot­light on me; my gen­der was con­stant­ly called into ques­tion. Being pre-testos­terone and only 18, I had to stay as hid­den as I could. The fact that the world did not see me as I saw myself kept my authen­tic self locked away in fear of being any more of a tar­get than I already was.

I nev­er thought I would get to the point where I am now, and I could not have done it with­out the sup­port of my com­mu­ni­ty. It wasn’t until I was four years into my phys­i­cal tran­si­tion that I felt safe dis­clos­ing my trans* iden­ti­ty to oth­ers. And it is only because of my priv­i­lege that I am able to be vis­i­ble. As I walk the world today, I have the priv­i­lege of pass­ing” in our soci­ety. This means that I am per­ceived by oth­ers as a cis­gen­der man. As a man in our soci­ety, I have a mul­ti­tude of priv­i­leges in that iden­ti­ty alone, in addi­tion to hav­ing white priv­i­lege. Being seen by oth­ers as a white cis’ man, I imme­di­ate­ly have social sta­tus and am treat­ed with that respect in the major­i­ty of situations.

I am one of the lucky ones. A major­i­ty of my trans* sib­lings still live their lives in fear. They still tuck them­selves away and make them­selves small because the world is not safe for them. It’s eas­i­er to be invis­i­ble than to fight an end­less bat­tle just to be seen. I’ve been there, and that is why I choose to be vis­i­ble for those who can­not. It’s impor­tant that I put myself out there to advo­cate for my com­mu­ni­ty and fight for our rights, respect, and equality.

The trans­gen­der com­mu­ni­ty is fac­ing an epi­dem­ic of hate crimes; the most vul­ner­a­ble of iden­ti­ties being black trans­gen­der women, who face a dead­ly mix of sex­ism, racism, and trans­pho­bia. I refuse to stay silent when my com­mu­ni­ty is being tar­get­ed with hatred and vio­lence. To me, being vis­i­ble means being open about gen­der iden­ti­ty. It means edu­cat­ing those who have any mis­con­cep­tions or ques­tions. It means stand­ing up for my com­mu­ni­ty when oth­ers try to tear us down. I refuse to let fear silence me and keep me from being my true authen­tic self. We are trans, and we are beautiful.

Look­ing for resources? Check out our LGBTQ+ Cen­ter in Schaum­burg, Illi­nois!


Kozuch, E. (2020, March 31). HRC hon­ors Inter­na­tion­al Trans­gen­der day of vis­i­bil­i­ty. Retrieved March 26, 2021, from https://​www​.hrc​.org/​n​e​w​s​/​h​u​m​a​n​-​r​i​g​h​t​s​-​c​a​m​p​a​i​g​n​-​h​o​n​o​r​s​-​i​n​t​e​r​n​a​t​i​o​n​a​l​-​t​r​a​n​s​g​e​n​d​e​r​-​d​a​y​-​o​f​-​v​i​s​i​b​ility

Scheinpflug, J. (n.d.). #Hire­Trans Chica­go. Retrieved March 26, 2021, from http://​hire​tran​schica​go​.com/

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