Transgender visibility is something that most people have no idea about or don’t really understand. On the most basic level Trans visibility is knowing what the term transgender means and how to interact with those folks in a respectable way. On the more advanced level, it is the understanding of transgender people as an oppressed population that faces violence and discrimination at an alarming rate, and even more so for transgender women of color. For example, 49% of transgender people reported physical abuse, and trans women of color have a 1 in 8 chance of being murdered. Not only do trans folks face violence and oppression from others, but they face increased risks of depression and suicide with 41% of trans people having attempted suicide.
This is the time for the transgender community to be visible not only because of the alarming statistics above, but because of the fight for equality and legal protections for the LGBT community. As individuals who are cisgender, one who affirms the gender assigned to them at birth, we have the opportunity to speak up for those who do not have the same privileges. We can stand in solidarity with the transgender community and be allies in the fight for equal rights.
Last month Tuesday, March 31st was Transgender Day of Visibility, a day to celebrate transgender people and to raise awareness of the issues that those in the transgender community face every day. I had the honor to celebrate this day by tabling at the Indiana Memorial Union Commons Desk. Dannie (my partner in this endeavor) and I spent the day handing out information about Transgender Day of Visibility and how students on the IUB campus can be Trans allies.
Although hundreds of students walked by our table throughout the day we only had about 120 people stop and talk and get a handout. That number may seem small, but it is a great start considering the lack of public discourse at IU about trans issues in the past. I hope that in the future transgender students and allies can continue the efforts of bringing more visibility to the transgender population on our campus. With visibility, allies and other students can be more respectful and supportive of our fellow trans students and insure that IU is a safe and affirming place for the trans community and other LGBT students.
Guest post by Deshea Meely
GLBT Student Support Services
Social Work Intern