Trans Visibility is an Important Place to Start When it Comes to Trans Rights, But it is Not Enough

LGBTQ+ visibility has come a long way since the first Pride march that took place on June 28th, 1970 in New York City. We have many people to thank for that day, but two of the most important are transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
Pride events and festivals have become much more popular over the past few decades, but it all goes back to the voices of many LGBTQ+ people in the 70s. If it wasn’t for them, LGBTQ+ visibility would have never gotten to where it is today. More LGBTQ+ discussions are taking place and more representation exists in the media, but there is still so much change left to make.
These days, many queer people feel confident enough to come out or show their true colors with pride clothes. However, some are still too scared or don’t feel comfortable enough to do so just yet. This is entirely understandable considering there is often a lack of positive visibility for LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender individuals.
While we see a decent about of gay and lesbian relationships and representation on screen, it is often hard to find the same for transgender individuals.
A decade ago, an estimated 1.4 million adults in the United States identified as transgender, and that number continues to increase. One would think that this large number would lead to more representation, but that is not the case. In 2020, only 0.3% of all television advertisements featured a transgender person.
Transgender visibility is there, but it is not nearly enough to make the impact we need. Ensuring that transgender visibility exists throughout many aspects of our world is extremely important.

There are specific weeks and days dedicated to speaking about transgender issues and honoring them with visibility.

Transgender Awareness Week takes place between November 13th and 19th every year. Transgender Day of Remembrance directly follows on November 20th. Transgender Day of Visibility takes place on March 31st.
The Biden-Harris Administration made sure to recognize Transgender Day of Visibility this year, which was a refreshing change from what we witnessed over the past presidency. A part of this acknowledgment included a fact sheet that discussed the systemic barriers, violence and discrimination this community is confronted with every day. This was impactful because it was released to all of America, rather than quietly addressed.
While these few chunks of time exist throughout the year, it is simply not enough. Yes, it is great that important conversations regarding the transgender experience take place at least a few times throughout the year, but they deserve more than that. LGBTQIA+ awareness months, weeks, and days are a great place to start, but we need to do more.

What is the importance of transgender visibility?

False accusations, beliefs, and news is constantly circulating regarding transgender people. One of the biggest reasons for transgender visibility is to put a stop to these tales, disprove the myths, and educate those outside of the LGBTQ+ community about what it means to be trans. According to GenderGP, some of the myths surrounding transgender people include:
  • There has been a sudden rise in trans people- The reality is that transgender individuals have always been around, they are just starting to be given their time in the spotlight
  • Predatory men become trans women to find their way into safe spaces- The thing is that predatory men are not trans women. The problem here is not trans women, it is predators. Trans women are simply trans women and this is not their goal.
There are many other myths just like those, and they continue to be spread consistently. The harm that these false narratives cause trans people may not always be easily seen, but they are there. These narratives put transgender mental health at risk, among other things.
Many of those who identify under the LGBTQ+ umbrella are exhausted. It is hard to stick up for yourself every single day. Visibility and positive representation take some of the weight off of them and helps us head in the direction we want.
Transgender visibility helps educate both those inside and outside of the LGBTQ+ community. It helps people see how diverse the world is. One of the biggest reasons for hatred and discrimination comes from a fear of the unknown. The more people see that transgender people are not rare and that they deserve love and acceptance just like everyone else, the better our world will be.

Transgender people deserve more than just visibility.

The idea behind transgender visibility is great. It should exist in all aspects of life, like entertainment, sports, journalism, politics, health, and more. Increasing trans visibility helps start a lot of valuable conversations, but we need to do more. 
According to GLSEN, even though there has been a major increase in trans visibility, these people still deal with high rates of violence and discrimination compared to heterosexual and cisgender groups.
According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, transgender people face many forms of discrimination in their everyday lives, including:
  • Physical assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Homelessness
  • Denial of medical services
  • Job loss
  • Eviction
  • Bullying
  • Harassment
We need to go beyond trans visibility and do better in the political sphere. We need more legislation in place that protects trans people. There is also a lot of legislation being created that goes against our goal. Just a year ago, more than 250 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in state legislatures. Many of these proposals were enacted into law.
Visibility is a wonderful place to start, but it is time for everyone to do more.