Trans Day of Visibility Roundtable: Letters to the Trans People Who Shaped Us

Today on Trans Day of Visibility we celebrate transgender people and bring awareness to the discrimination and violence they face every day of their lives.

To celebrate, we asked trans writers to write to a fellow trans person who has been important to them — someone they look up to, someone who has helped them,​ ​someone who has changed their life or otherwise made a major impact. Below you’ll find their notes of love and admiration for their trans friends.

From Mey Rude to El Sanchez

Hey El,

I know I’ve told you this before, but when you asked me if I’d had a quinceañera, that was one of the most affirming moments in my life. I’ve wanted my whole life to be seen as a girl or woman and a Latina and in one quick question you did all of that. That wasn’t the first time you’ve made me feel that way and definitely not the last time. When we talk, when we hang out, I never have to worry about how you see me. I never have to worry that you think I don’t belong. I never feel self-conscious. I feel like a woman and a Latina and like myself. Thank you.

You don’t only make me feel comfortable and at home in my own skin, but you also challenge the way I see gender. It’s an understatement to say I haven’t always been very nice to non-binary people and trans men, but you’ve helped me grow so much in the way I interact with gender and treat my fellow trans people. Thank you for that and I’m sorry. Also there’s the whole big thing where you were the first person there to help when I had a major mental breakdown. I’m so sorry I put you through that and I’ll be eternally thankful you were there to save my life. You’re one of the best people I’ve ever met. You’re a great friend, the funniest person on earth, a dream of a parent and the best karaoke singer I’ve heard. You make me proud to be Mexican, proud to be fat, proud to be queer and proud to be trans. You make me proud to be myself. I love you and thank you.

From Abeni Jones to Xemiyulu Manibusan Tapepechul

Dear Xemi,

I met you on the first day of A-Camp last year. I was consistently inspired by your vibrance, intelligence, and creativity. I didn’t know many people at camp, and didn’t know if it would be tough being a trans woman of color in a mostly white cis space. You were so friendly and welcoming, and helped me feel like I belonged from the jump. Your presence made A-Camp transformative.

I love seeing you on social media, whether you’re sharing your wisdom, your advocacy for two-spirit folks, or especially the way you embody the interdependent, community-oriented politics that I aspire to practice in my own life.

When I was broke and had no meds, your support helped me raise hundreds of dollars and put me back on the right track. I consistently see you sharing fundraisers and creative projects and supporting other trans people of color as we struggle through life under capitalism. You model for me what it means to really take care of each other, to build community, to make the political personal. You’ve also never seemed ashamed of asking for help from the community, and have empowered me to be able to do the same.

I know we haven’t really talked much since camp, but I love seeing your IG stories and your tweets and am so excited about your upcoming creations. Two-Spirits belong here!

Note to readers: Xemi is a brilliant creator but is almost always broke and hustling to survive. She’s currently raising money to be able to afford her medication; if you’d like to celebrate Trans Day of Visibility by supporting her, you can do so here!

From Vivek Shraya to Alok Vaid-Menon

When I was coming out as trans, Alok offered one of the only forms of POC non-binary trans femininity representation that was accessible for me. I needed to know that it was ok for my gender to continue to be complicated, and Alok’s regular, insightful posts on Instagram were invaluable to me. Even now, when I feel the constant pressure to “fully commit” to womanhood, which is often code for cis-womanhood, I am grateful for Alok’s resistance.

Given all of this, Alok was one my inspirations when writing my 2017 album Part-Time Woman and I was deeply honoured when they agreed to be in the video for the title track.

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  1. Thank you. Thank you all for your visibility and your vulnerability in sharing your truths.

  2. Morgan M. Page. Kai Cheng Thom. Mira Bellwether. Julia Serano. Susan Stryker. Andrea Long Chu. Sisters. Love and gratitude and a thousand roses.

  3. We all have the potential to be someone’s source of strength and hope. I’m eternally grateful to visible trans people who are paving the way for the future.

  4. Should y’all really be posting a shout-out to Alok Vaid-Menon considering they are someone who wrote a facebook post victim-blaming little girls for being sexually assaulted/raped/harrassed and called them “kinky” and “deviant”? Doesn’t seem like the kind of person you would want your site associated with.

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