Welcome to Queer IRL, an Autostraddle community photo series that gathers little clips of lesbian, bisexual, queer and otherwise-identified women, trans and non-binary folks, just living our lives.
The first celebration of the (now International) Trans Day of Visibility happened on March 31, 2009. Activist Rachel Crandall started the holiday because she noticed a lack of holidays celebrating transgender success. The day seeks to honor the accomplishments of transgender and gender non-conforming folks, while also highlighting that there is still real work to be done to save trans lives.
It is unfortunate that most news produced about trans folks, especially trans women, centers on our deaths or harassment. Our stories contain far more than our deaths. We want to be celebrated in our lives. And so, ladies, theydies, and gentlequeers, that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Almost 100 of you amazing humans sent me pictures of your faces and sent me words that made me very emotional! You and your high-quality images stole all the space in my hard drive and also my heart! I’m so excited to share you with the world!
So world, here we are, Trans Straddlers, visible and proud!
Kitson Smyth / 24 #ariesbabe / NYC / He/They
I love being a nonbinary trans human. I love existing in my truth and giving no fucks about binary views of gender. Being visible and seeing my friends and loved ones be visible too fills with so much joy that the folks I love and I are living authentic, beautiful, messy, complex, fun lives.
Jesse Campbell / 26 / Vancouver, CANADA
I love the physical and mental strength I now possess. Before transitioning I felt like I was dragging myself through the world. Now I can carry myself. A weight has been lifted, and carrying that weight for so long has made me stronger. I can admit I’m genuinely happy. No reservations or excuses. I love the perspective and experience I have gained. I love supporting my trans family. I love my trans partner. I love watching myself grow into the best version of myself.
Terra Fox / 34 / Albuquerqe, New Mexico
Trans is beautiful… like flowers, we blossom and fearlessly show our delicate and colorful selves to a dangerous world. Like flowers, we are resilient. We can grow anywhere, from the cracks in the concrete of cities to deserts and mountaintops where the air is thin. By simply existing, we make this world a more beautiful place. My body is a flower. My body is beautiful.
Eli / 27 / he/him/they/them / Zürich, Switzerland
I am visible because I want to show that I can be trans and thrive. So much of what we associate transness with is sadness – transphobia, rejection, mental health struggles, the politicization of our bodies, and worse. The experience of being trans – the privilege of transitioning – has been hard but also joyous. I’m developing a relationship with my own body for the first time in my life, I’m happier and more at ease at work and with friends, and I’ve experienced support and love from so many places. I hope that maybe in some way my visibility and my happiness can stand in contrast to the negatives and contribute towards a different kind of trans narrative.
Martha Greaves / Brooklyn, NY / She, Her, Zer
Since being visible it’s like I’ve unearthed this dormant superpower. I can actually plan for the future as my true self and who knew, I’m actually am not a slacker.
Jack / 23 / San Diego / he/him
It took me a long time to love and embrace my masculinity, I think in large part because the shows I grew up watching and the queer media I consumed starred very feminine women, painting the picture in my young queer mind that femininity was much more desirable than butchness and masculinity. Ever since I came out two years ago, though, I’ve worked every day to learn to love and enjoy my masculinity, which in turn has allowed me to enjoy my femininity so much more. I love that gender expression feels like a playground now, not a performance; when I paint my nails, wear briefs, pick out a new crop top, put on men’s socks, or do a million other little things, these everyday victories grow my gender euphoria into a super bloom. It’s never been true that only feminine queer folks are attractive; my partner, a queer lady, finds me so much more attractive now that I look like myself.
simcha / 20 / pnw / they/them/theirs
I love finding shared understanding and love in being trans, I love working to shape myself into My Self, I love watching my lil mustache hairs grow and feeling a little more okay within myself. I love the strength that I’ve grown to recognize within myself as I embrace who I am.
Willow / 31 / Boston / She
Transitioning saved my life, I really wouldn’t be here otherwise. I love that I still manage to freak out conservatives by existing. I love that the horrible pain of feeling utterly alone and alien in this world made me more empathetic to others existing outside the norm. I love that when I meet another trans person we can feel like lost nomads finding each other in the desert. We can exchange just a few words but stare deeply into each other’s souls. I’ve been on hormones for 5 years now. I’m still a fairly unhappy person, but I’ve moved on to being unhappy about new things, which is a sort of progress. I love you.
Lena + Kate / 27 + 28 / Columbus, OH / they/them/theirs
From Lena: For me, being genderqueer is all about authenticity. Without the constraint of trying to be something I’m not by fitting into norms and expectations that I do not actually believe in, I’ve become free to truly know and express myself. I love being sure of myself and confident in my identity regardless of how people perceive me. But the greatest joy of trans visibility is getting to be the person I needed to see when I was younger—out and thriving!
And having an incredible partner who is also trans means that the person I love the most doesn’t require me to justify or explain who I am—we resonate with one another in so many ways, and shared identity is one. As illegible as I often am to strangers, no one has ever read me more clearly than Kate does. Plus, what’s cuter than one non-binary person? TWO non-binary people kissing!
Alexis / 25 / East Coast / they/them
One of my favorite things about being trans is giving myself room to learn more and more about myself every day. I used to be so angry with myself for not being a good enough girl, for being so bad at being a girl, and when I realized I’m not a girl (I am a black girl though), it made me able to handle myself more gently to work with my body more softly. Being trans has shown me who to trust with my most important things and who to maybe keep at a bit of a distance even if I still love them (I have a HORRIBLE time with this because I want to believe we’re all just doing the best for one another – some may call this mindset naive – and it’s like not fun finding out this isn’t true). Whenever I talk about my pronouns and I see who is taking me seriously, when I see them putting what I’ve shared about myself into appropriate action, then I can better understand who is in my corner. And even my inability to come out to certain people lets me know that my body knows something that I otherwise probably want to ignore, which I appreciate because for so long I made sure to ignore my body and what it told me. Basically, being trans makes me happier to live and more intentional in how I go through life and love others and love myself, and after feeling closer to dead for a long time, I’m really enjoying (for the most part) being alive.
Quinn + Nate / 28 + 26 / Portland, OR / they/them + he/him
From Quinn: There are a million things I love about being trans, but one of the biggest is the joy of trans friendships! The strength and celebration and pure magic of sharing life with my trans loves is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever known.
Bennett Cunningham/ 33 / from the USA, currently in Taipei, Taiwan / They/Them
Being an out genderqueer person is amazing. Allowing other people to see me is freeing. I love not feeling alone in who I am and how I relate to the world. The more open I have become, the more I meet other people who share similar feelings, the closer I feel to the people that I care about because I am not holding back anymore.
JP / 25 / Durham, NC / they/them
I love being trans because of the people I’m in community with as the facilitator of a nonbinary discussion group. I’m proud to have helped create a space that folks keep returning to. I feel conflicted about visibility but one thing I do love about it as a nonbinary person is making others question their own gender/s and gender itself. I also love being on HRT. I didn’t just go on hormones for the tits, but like I didn’t not do it for the tits. They’re great.
Penny R. / 47 / Victoria BC, Canada / she/her
While I don’t love that it took me until age 46 to come out, I am all the way out now – I’m finally coming out at work this week – and I love it. I am finally having gender euphoria. I love being seen as myself. I love not having to curate every little visible detail of my life so nobody will spot some clue and guess the truth. I love looking at my band’s new album and seeing my real name on it. I love not being afraid of everyone around me. I love that I feel like I can finally care about myself now that it’s finally my life and doesn’t feel like someone else’s. I love the feeling of finally being FREE. Also I love having boobs (They’re not big, but they’re real…and they’re spectacular – to me anyway).
Anna / 37 / Green Bay, WI / She, Her
One of the most important ways I’m visible as a trans woman is to myself. I didn’t always recognize the person in the mirror, and some days are still hard like that. As such, I’m incredibly grateful for all the moments of clarity and joy when I feel most like ‘me’.
I took this photo one evening when I felt particularly comfortable in my skin, and I appreciate the chance to share what everyday bits of trans happiness look like for me.
Ade Anderson / 24 / Ft. Worth, TX / they/he
Being trans is so much a part of my growth as a person and as a Christian. I love the way I have to be aware of my body, and how it relates to other bodies. My transness reminds me that we can’t survive without community, and that’s the most important lesson I think any of us will ever learn.
Sage / 26 / Ontario / they/he
I love my tiny, ridiculous moustache. I love my voice. I love writing about my transition and sharing that writing with other trans, non-binary, gender nonconforming, and questioning folks. Seeing others like myself existing in the world helped me so much with my transition and I aspire to return the favour.
Samson / 24 / Brooklyn,NY / They/them
I love being trans because I love getting to be my true and authentic self. I love the outlook that I have developed from my experiences, both good and bad, using those experiences in my art and teaching. I love being a part of a large and diverse community, and being a positive role model for young trans people.
Mel Ferrara / 25 / Philly / they/them/theirs
“I began to feel the pleasure of the weightless state between here and there” – Leslie Feinberg.
Isabella Marabeth Cavatica / 23 / Central Minnesota / Fae/Faer/Faers/Faerself
With hormones, I’ve gone from introverted to extroverted. My hips have filled out, my boobs are awesome, and looking in the mirror I see me. I am a beautiful giantess with the heart of a poet. I’m a crunchy witch with hair like the tangled roots of a tree, an appetite like a black hole, and all the joy of the sun. I am me, and it’s wonderful.