Activist and pillar of the Stonewall riots Marsha P. Johnson. Stand-up comic Ian Harvie. Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox. A Clockwork Orange composer Wendy Carlos. German pole-vaulting champion Balian Buschbaum. The list of transgender people who have helped shape our society is endless.
Founded in 2009, International Transgender Day of Visibility celebrates the accomplishments of transgender people and gender-nonconformists throughout the world, while simultaneously raising awareness about the discrimination those who are trans face.
“We do remarkable things,” says Blue Montana, transgender program manager at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada. “We’re politicians, we’re teachers. Trans people [were in] the Civil War. Joan of Arc was gender variant. We’ve been visible for hundreds of years.”
That history will be explored on Friday, March 31 when the Center celebrates TDOV, beginning with a clinic on name and gender-marker changes, followed by a trans and gender-nonconforming history workshop, empowerment awards and an open-mic segment called Trans Monologues.
Laura Hernandez, family and youth services coordinator at Gender Justice Nevada, says celebrating trans and gender-nonconforming communities also means changing societal views. As the mother of a trans daughter, Hernandez has used her own story to train school district employees and police officers on gender diversity. “We are all affected by these boxes we put people into,” Hernandez says. “All of us can look back at something [we were told] we shouldn’t do because we were a girl or a boy. We’re all living under these rigid systems created by our own society.
“To shift [our] thinking, to understand that we are all born in this myriad of different ways,” she adds—that’s one way to combat transphobia.
And while TDOV is important, Gender Justice advocacy services coordinator David Kenney says it’s even more valuable for trans and gender non-conforming individuals to be seen and supported every day. “When folks are trying to grow up and figure out who they are ... we need role models to let us know it’s okay to be this way,” Kenney says. “Every trans person has a very different story.”