March 31 is the Transgender (Trans) Day of Visibility (TDOV), an annual worldwide event focusing on the lives of transgender people and their lived experiences—both the joys and the challenges—as well as working to create safe and affirming spaces in the workplace and in the public sphere for people to live their authentic lives.
Begun in 2009, TDOV brings attention to discrimination against the transgender community and to celebrate the contributions of its members—because visibility matters.
Transgender is defined as relating to a person whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. This umbrella term may refer to someone whose gender identity is woman or man, or to someone whose gender identity is nonbinary (a person who does not identify, or identify solely, as either a woman or a man).
Read the Presidential Proclamation on Transgender Day of Visibility for 2023
Transgender and nonbinary people come from all walks of life and everywhere in the world and are of all races, ages and religions. Transgender and nonbinary people are your family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, civic and religious leaders and your kids’ classmates.
Unfortunately, in the last two years attempts to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth, trans youth participation in sports and even ban insurance companies that provide trans adults with healthcare have put the basic human rights of transgender lives at risk.
Related: The right exploits Nashville shooting to escalate anti-trans rhetoric (Washington Post, quoting Eric Madfis, social work and criminal justice at UW Tacoma)
Learn more and get involved
There are some 400 legislative actions being taken across North America to abolish, restrict or eliminate the rights of transgender individuals right now. Much of the content in these bills is discriminatory and disparages transgender individuals.
Related: At CPAC 2023, Anti-Transgender Hate Took Center Stage (Anti-Defamation League)
These organizations provide resources and support to help transgender people respond when their rights are infringed.
- The Transgender Law Center Help Desk lists helpful resources by issue area and has an online submission form for specific questions.
- The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund’s Trans Health Project helps transgender and non-binary people understand the trans-related health care available, and the steps to get the care they need.
Want to educate yourself, make your voice heard or be an ally?
- PFLAG’s Straight for Equality program provides learning sessions to train trans allies in the workplace.
- The GLAAD report “Understanding issues facing Transgender Americans” offers a comprehensive look at the obstacles Transgender people face in the U.S.
- The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) See Each Other. Save Trans Lives campaign is amplifying everyday stories of resilience, joy and humanity among the trans community by working to break the connection between anti-trans stigma and violence against the transgender and nonbinary communities.
- A Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth: It can be tough for transgender and nonbinary people to bear the burden of educating others about their lived experiences. This guide will help begin your education on the basics of gender identity and expression.
- Black and LGBTQ: Approaching Intersectional Conversations: For people with multiple marginalized identities, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to explore the layers of these conversations with others who don’t have the same experience of marginalization. Here are some approaches to consider before, during and after a difficult conversation to make sure the dialogue — and your mental health — stays safe.
- Read UW Medicine’s Right as Rain post LGBTQ+ Allyship: How to Show Up for the LGBTQ+ Community.
- Transathlete compiles athletic policies on trans inclusion by location and sport division for athletes, coaches and administrators.
Want to meet transgender people in the UW community?
My story: Fighting to be seen, fighting to be heard: Meet UW Bothell alumna Jesse Blaire, ’22, who completed a double major in Law, Economics & Public Policy and in Society, Ethics & Human Behavior. Jesse shares a reflection on navigating intersectional identities, their studies at the University, and our world on the UW Bothell news blog.
Advocating for acceptance: Meet gender-diversity trailblazer Sean Johnson: As program director for UW Medicine’s Transgender and Gender Non-Binary Health Program, Sean is using his lived experience as the first UW employee to transition on the job using UW Medicine providers to inform his work assisting people in finding comprehensive gender-affirming care.
Meet Lucas Harrington of the UW Autism Center: As a neurodiverse transgender person, Lucas has had his share of challenges in achieving true inclusion in society. His work at the UW Autism Center, which values the whole person and welcomes people of all identities, has helped him embrace his queer identity and claim his neurodiversity as a source of pride.
Fierce compassion: Meet gender equity and justice advocate Lauren Lichty: As a faculty member at UW Bothell, Lauren has felt supported by their community to explore professionally identifying as non-binary and genderqueer, moving toward use of they/them pronouns and helping people to understand the non-binary experience—in short, bringing their authentic identity to work every day.
Using inclusive language
According to the LGBTQ+ resource center at the University of Wisconsin, all of the professional associations for psychology and psychiatry in the U.S. acknowledge that inclusive language dramatically reduces experiences of depression, social anxiety, suicidal ideation, and other negative mental health factors among LGBTQ+ youth and adults.
- Tranny/trannie/transsexual/shemaleare derogatory and have been used as slurs, although some transgender people choose to use them. Only use these terms if you are asked to do so.
- Transgendered suggests that being transgender is something that is done to change a person or that a transition is required. Use transgender instead.
- Referring to a group? Use folks, folx, people, everybody, everyone, colleagues, y’all, friends, or attendees instead of ladies and gentlemen or you guys.
- Inclusive acronyms for the range of minoritized sexual and gender identities include LGBTQ+ and LGBTQIA+. It’s OK to use either, but in writing, keep usage accurate to the source.
Want a deeper dive? Read: Communicating respectfully with people of all gender identities
Looking for support, or know someone who is?
If you or someone you know is transgender and needs to talk, check out these resources:
- The Trans Lifeline can be reached at 877-565-8860
- The LGBT National Hotline is available at 1-888-843-4564. They also provide a LGBT Senior Hotline at 1-888-234-7243 and LGBTQ Youth can call 1-800-246-7743 or join youth chat rooms here.
- The Trevor Project crises counselors can be reached at 1-866-488-7386. Text ‘START’ to 678-678 to connect via text message, or chat online here.
- The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline can be reached at 1-877-360-5428
- Dial 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They also provide a Lifeline Chat here, and additional LGBTQ resources here.
- Transfamilies hosts free virtual parent support groups on zoom. The available sessions can be found here.
The Whole U and the UWCFD affirm and celebrate people of all sexual and gender orientations, identities, and expressions and encourage volunteerism, advocacy and support of nonprofits working in this space.
Consider making a one-time contribution or setting up payroll deduction to UWCFD member organizations working to positively impact the lives and well-being of LGBTQIA+ people:
Human Rights Campaign (charity code 0315683): HRC envisions a world where every member of the LGBTQIA+ family has the freedom to live their truth without fear, and with equality under the law.
The Q Center at UW (charity code 0493258): The Q Center is the professionally supported resource, advocacy and mentoring center for queer students and concerns at the University of Washington. It provides consulting for various departments on campus on bolstering safety and respect for queer students, and also coordinates numerous programs, social organizations and educational initiatives.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) (charity code 0456944): GLAAD is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
GLSEN: Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (charity code 1479258): Eight of ten LGBTQIA+ students are bullied or harassed in schools. GLSEN makes America’s schools safer for all, regardless of sexual orientation/gender identity.
Camp Ten Trees (charity code 1468090): Camp Ten Trees offers residential summer camp sessions for LGBTQIA+ and allied youth and for children of LGBTQIA+ families. Since 2001, Camp Ten Trees has been a place for campers to build skills, strengthen resiliency and make lifelong friends.
Entre Hermanos (charity code 0524060): Works to improve the health and well-being of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Latino/a communities in a safe and culturally appropriate environment.
The Trevor Project (charity code 1479131): The Trevor Project offers lifesaving, life-affirming programs and services to LGBTQIA+ youth to create safe, accepting and inclusive environments over the phone, online and through text.
Lambert House (charity code 0320828): Lambert House empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth through the development of leadership, social, and life skills. Online support groups and virtual programming includes BIPOC only youth space, weekly space for LGBTQIA+ youth to chat, and interest based activity sessions. Check out all their resources here.