Finding Hope on Trans Day of Visibility

Today is Trans Day of Visibility, a day when we recognize and celebrate and affirm all the trans people who are alive today and who have come before us. We need to let trans people know that when we see them, we aren’t just doing the bare minimum, we’re also seeing them as people who are important and deserve our support. Seeing trans people, especially trans women, especially trans people of color, especially Black trans people, especially Black trans women, doesn’t just mean seeing us. It means seeing that we are worth listening to, worth hiring, worth loving and worth supporting. We need to be more than visible. We need to be valued. We need a Trans Day of Value.

This has been a weird year for trans people. This has been a horrifying and terrible year for trans people. In 2016 we thought things were bad. There were bills in Houston and North Carolina and other places that specifically targeted trans people and even more specifically trans women, because we are more visible than ever. In 2016 America also saw more reported murders of trans people than ever before. Again, this is partially due to more visibility. Now, so far this year we’ve seen trans women being murdered at a much higher rate than last year’s record. We’ve seen big name feminists proudly declare that they don’t consider trans women to be real women. We’ve seen an evil and vile administration target trans people and specifically trans women with their policies and rhetoric.

It’s hard to be visible when all of this is going on. It’s scary, it’s sad, it’s exhausting. Being trans and being visible means being at risk. It means that you’re acknowledging that our current government and large parts of the population hate you. It means acknowledging that life is gonna suck a lot of the time. I understand the trans people who aren’t being visible today, and I affirm them as members of our community who are just as valuable as any other trans person. Whether you’re not visible because you don’t feel trans enough, or you need to keep your job or your family, or you want an easier life, or you don’t want to die, your reasons are valid. It’s a tough time to be trans.

But honestly, I still have hope for the future of trans people. Janet Mock has a new book coming out, Laverne Cox, Jen Richards and Amiyah Scott all had quality roles on TV at the same time. Books and comics are hiring trans people to write and consult and edit and do art. More trans people are feeling comfortable coming out. Right before this new administration came into power, the internet banded together and allies paid for many trans people to update their passports and other important documents. More and more TV shows and movies are refusing to cast men as trans women and women as trans men. Non-binary people are starting to get legal protections in some parts of the world. Generous people are paying for over half a dozen camperships for trans women of color to go to A-Camp this May. The Democratic Party included trans rights in their presidential platform. When a “feminist” says that trans women aren’t real women, a dozen shout back that we are. Cis people seem like they’re trying harder to do better.

Trans Day of Visibility gives me hope. When I see trans people proudly being themselves in public I have hope. When I see allies retweeting links on how to support trans women I have hope. When I see brilliant selfies of trans people I have hope. When I see trans people celebrating a day that’s about us, I have hope.

I’m not a nihilist or a pessimist or even a realist. I’m an optimist. And that optimism leads me to believe with my whole heart that we will succeed in making things better for all trans people and specifically trans women of color. I believe that men will stop stop being ashamed of being attracted to trans women, sleeping with trans women, falling in love with trans women. I believe that trans women exclusionary feminism will become an embarrassing relic of the past. I believe that the evil people in power right now will lose that power and the next generation of politicians will believe that we deserve safety and happiness and health and equal rights. I believe that trans people will get to see our heroes in history books and on the screen and I believe that we’ll get new heroes along the way. I believe that trans women of color will be able to live long and happy and successful lives. I believe that we’ll make things better. If I’m going to be trans and visible, I have to.

Mey Valdivia Rude is a bisexual Latina trans woman living in Los Angeles. She's a writer, comic consultant and a trans activist. She's a bruja, a femme, a pop princess and she loves comic books, witches, dinosaurs and crying. She has a cat named Sawyer and a very successful twitter.

Mey has written 575 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. Beautiful Mey. I love your writing and your outfit.

    I’m on my way to volunteer at a trans artist showcase for trans visibility day. I’m glad I read this so I can keep your words in my heart as I help with set up and ooh and ahh over the art and the artists

    • She IS definitely a person who isn’t qualified to speak about trans women’s experience of womanhood, who could use her platform as a famous feminist to say ‘this isn’t my area of expertise so I’ll refer you to the work of [insert trans woman author’s name here].’

  2. Yay Mey! I share your optimism and hope. And we SHOULD be visible! Being trans is such an amazing, beautiful experience. Each morning, I try to spend some time cultivating gratitude. Because I am not a mistake, and I have so much to offer this world and society.

    Is it scary? Hell yes. I live in conservative backwards Idaho where I can be fired whenever for my gender identify. That’s the scariest part for me – not the violence or hate, but just being kicked out of my home or losing my job whenever my employer feels like it. That has led me to move 5 times and hold 4 different jobs in the last 6 months.

    So yesterday, again, lo and behold, I was thrown out of my home. The timing could not have been better, right? So with few options and no money, I needed a loan to secure a new place. And banks here don’t give loans to trans people. So I had to make a choice…

    On the day of Trans Visibility, I became invisible.

    I took off my earrings, makeup, and nail polish. I bound my chest and threw on a pair of jeans, an old t-shirt, and sneakers. I looked in the mirror and cried all my tears. I hid under the covers and shook, not wanting to face the world. Because when I did, it hurt. It ate my inside. The store clerk would say, “Sir I can help you over here!” And I would look around wondering who she was talking to. And then I remembered. The world can’t see me today. Because I don’t exist – a ghost, wading through life with no connection to others. Having to be conscious of the way I sit, speak, walk, or look at others.

    Because like it or not, trans people aren’t welcome some places. Even somewhere as simple as getting a loan at my local bank. So I get why some are afraid to be visible. I get that. And although it pains us, we do what we have to do to survive. We put back on that costume – the one I wore for 30 years. Forced to play the part in a play where your role is set, so the only escape is for the play to end.

    I don’t like living that way. I don’t like remembering what it was like. Because my life is happy today. I finally know what being alive feels like. I can look in the mirror and smile. I dance in the morning sun on my way to work. I can sing again. I have friends and am able to help others. I am healthy and gentle to my body. I bake fresh bread. I go on dates. I binge watch One Piece. Life is good.

    So to you my trans sisters and brothers – Stray Strong! Know that even if you have to put back on that mask, or if you are still wearing it, know this:

    We See You.

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