Transgender Day of Visibility
Today, March 31, 2021 is "Transgender Day of Visibility". There are many levels of visibility that impact the transgender community and even more that affect individual transgender people. For this day in 2021, after all that's happened to the world in 2020, there is probably no more important message to the transgender people here in America than President Biden's message;
Quite a difference from the previous years... The message is critical for transgender rights and our ability to get and keep jobs, homes and healthcare. Essentially if we are visible, then we must exist and exist as valued humans.
But visibility means more to each transgender individual. From visible in the mirror, to visible to our partners and families, to being visible to our local community. For me that thought of visibility even in the mirror, or maybe especially in the mirror was absolutely terrifying. While longed for and dreamed of, I thought of every possible excuse for keeping me invisible. That stayed the same for 50+ years. Then it didn't any more. In my head it wasn't that abrupt, but it was to the other people in my life and community. I was visible to my partner, family and friends and slowly to everybody else. Simply put the scariest thing I've ever done. I'm thrilled to be me, to wear what I like, wear makeup if I feel like it, let my hair grow and grow, to get my ears pierced. All real parts of me.
Part of the fear of being visible is the anticipation of other people seeing me as a man in a dress. Family and friends tell me "You don't have to worry, you look good, you pass." Either they're being nice (quite possible) or what I see in the mirror isn't what they see. I see flaws, glaring, throbbing flaws and they see me or at least they tell me they see me. Do I strive to pass? Well I strive for people to perceive me as a woman, I don't expect to pass scrutiny. I take little validations wherever I can. The other day at the grocery store an elderly couple were getting a shopping cart just ahead of me. The woman couldn't pull the cart out of the row, the man came over to help her. Then he pulled one out for me and said "Here you go, Dear". I softly said "Thank you" and smiled under my mask until I got home from shopping.
As part of a couple of transgender support groups, lots of us are only partially visible, partly out. For those of us that have had 30-40-50 years of the wrong hormones. Making changes to our physical presentation is difficult at best, nearly impossible especially to our personal mirrors. But we need to be visible and accepted in our families and communities and today is the day to wipe the mirror clear and be visible. Tomorrow we can let it fog up again.