Today is not only the final day in what has become the longest month in history, but it is also the International Transgender Day of Visibility.
International Transgender Day of Visibility is honored every year on March 31 and is a time to celebrate transgender people around the globe and the courage it takes to live openly and authentically, while also raising awareness around the discrimination trans people still face.
-Human Rights Campaign
Being visible can mean a lot of different things to people in our community. Sometimes it is being out in public, sometimes it is looking at our reflection and acknowledging and accepting that there is more to our gender identity than what most of the world sees.
I have been going out in public since 2013. At least during the day. I went a couple times before that, but that was at night and only to LGBTQ+ bars. But one spring day seven years ago was a new beginning for me. I woke up early, bought a coffee, wandered around two malls, a book store, a department store, and a grocery store. I was as visible as I could be. I did boring, mundane things, but for Hannah, every step was an epic adventure, a quest where I was braver and more confident and more terrified than I had ever been before. I have no photos of myself from that day, but the picture above is exactly what I was wearing.
I wondered how many cashiers, baristas, store clerks, and others were seeing me and realizing they were seeing a transperson for the first time other than on television. I smiled at everyone I saw, and most people smiled back. If I were indeed the first transperson they would meet, I wanted it to be a good impression. It dawned on me that I, along with every non cis-gender person in the world, was a representative for our community.
If we want to be accepted, tolerated, understood or simply not hated, then we need to be visible. But my god, that is not easy. The real world can be terrifying. Not at all of us are able, or ready, to be visible or step out in public. I understand. I was there, too. There are things that I wonder if I will ever be ready to do.
If you don’t feel you can be visible to the rest of the world, I hope you are visible to yourself. Many of us go through periods where we deny this side of us, we ignore, or suppress, or even hate this side of us. Don’t.
Even if you aren’t able to look into your reflection and see her looking back at you, let yourself look beyond the person in the mirror, look beyond the person the rest of the world sees. Look for the real you. Acknowledge her.
Love her. She’s not going away. She shouldn’t. She’s lovely, and you are perfect.
You may not be able to hit the mall en femme. You may not be able to go beyond panties under your boy clothes. You may not even have that. But that doesn’t mean she is not there.
Wearing a bra, a dress, lipstick, six-inch stilettos, doesn’t make one a girl. Clothes make a statement, but there’s a side of us that is always there, even when we wearing a suit, or boxers, a beard, or work boots.
You may not be able to be out to everyone. You may not be out to anyone. But you can be out to you.
Be visible, even if it is only to yourself.