Transgender Day of Visibility vital for trans representation

Nothing, if Not Critical

Generally speaking, transgender identification is rarely discussed at the University. Throughout our lecture halls, undergraduate courses often ignore discussions on transgender lived experiences. Indeed, transgender pedagogy often remains missing from the classroom, as theories on gender identity are rarely discussed during in-class readings, and many classrooms avoid critiques of sociocultural cissexism and transphobia. Within our University, classrooms often stray away from discussing transgender-related issues and experiences — many academic courses remain solely centered around cisgender experiences instead.

This past Tuesday was the International Transgender Day of Visibility, a worldwide holiday highlighting the lives of transgender individuals across the globe. Throughout the day, transgender men, women and gender nonconforming identities discussed their own life stories and gave words of encouragement to their fellow transgender users. Indeed, a wide range of individuals across nations, races and genders turned to the Internet in order express their identity, and transgender participants openly shared their experiences with such issues as gender dysphoria and transitioning. As a result, 2015’s Day of Visibility served as one of the most prolific celebrations since its inception in 2009, with thousands of transgender individuals sharing their experiences throughout the globe.

Indeed, the Transgender Day of Visibility served as a commemoration of our lives as transgender identities — the day values our life experiences, and helps share our stories with the rest of the world. This remains vital throughout our lives, as visible representation for transgender individuals remains scarce within our society and culture. Despite being a vital part of the LGBTQ letters, transgender social, cultural and political issues are often ignored within the United States. Our country’s national political discourse, for instance, explicitly refuses to discuss accommodations for transgender individuals. And many contemporary cisgender Americans remain woefully ignorant on transgender issues, as bigoted and ignorant views on transgender men, women and non-binary identities remain prominent throughout Western culture. Despite our vital role within the LGBTQ letters, our stories are often ignored, and rarely discussed within the mainstream media.

Academic institutions continue to struggle with this issue as well, often struggling to accommodate for transgender individuals. Across K-12 school systems, educational material on transgender lives remain few — classrooms often neglect discussing the history of transgender activism and exploring literature about transgender individuals. Throughout public schooling, many children enter and leave education without any knowledge on transgender identities.

Likewise, academic institutional structures have been slow to accommodate for transgender individuals and often fail to properly discuss their life stories. For instance, throughout America, women’s colleges possess a long history of struggling to accommodate for transgender women. In 2013, Smith College denied a transgender woman’s application based on her transgender identity and has failed to rectify the policy since. Wellesley College only recently began accepting transgender women, despite a long history of activism on campus toward inclusion for transgender identities. Indeed, academia’s women’s colleges have been traditionally slow for including transgender students, often failing to cultivate inclusive policies that accommodate for transgender identities.

Therefore, in the face of transphobia within the West, the International Transgender Day of Visibility remains an empowering celebration. The day encourages transgender individuals to celebrate their identities and feel proud of their life stories. Twitter’s #tdov hashtag, for instance, featured a wide range of transgender identities throughout the gender spectrum. From transgender men, to non-binary individuals, transgender users were given the opportunity to share their life stories and amplify their voices across the world. Indeed, tags such as #transdayofremembrance served as an online archive of transgender experiences — granting our community the opportunity to learn from one another, share our life stories, and celebrate our lived experiences.

Across the transgender community, solidarity can be a difficult subject. Transgender individuals come from a wide range of backgrounds, and no two transgender individuals share the exact same life stories. Yet on social media, the International Transgender Day of Visibility gave us the opportunity to vocally share our lived experiences and celebrate our community’s history. Through the #transdayofremembrance and #tdov hashtags, social media gave us the opportunity to cultivate our own stories, share our struggles and talk about our hopes and fears. While visibility is often hard to come by for transgender individuals, the International Transgender Day of Visibility helped us celebrate one another and amplify our experiences as transgender students.

Philip Wythe is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in English with a minor in political science. Their column, “Nothing, if Not Critical,” runs on alternate Fridays.

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