‘Trans visibility is a double edged sword’ We asked some of our trans authors what Trans Day of Visibility means to them
March 31st is Trans Day of Visibility. It was born out of recognition that trans people have not always been visible and we have had to fight (and still do) for recognition of our existence. Now in 2023, trans visibility is greater than ever – but it can be, as author Ben Pechey says, ‘a double edged sword’. We asked some of our authors what trans visibility means to them:
“Visibility is and always will be crucial to our community. It allows others to see themselves represented, which makes them feel heard, seen and understood. That joy of seeing yourself depicted is unlike anything, and trans people deserve to know that they can be happy, that they can be loved and that they are cherished.
But visibility and progress also comes at a price, and isn’t a linear journey. While we have never been further in our fight for equality and inclusion, we are also seeing unprecedented attacks on our community, often led by influential and powerful figures, that use their platforms to demonise our community. But that fear and hatred will not win, as our joy, visibility and our stories will be heard, and will help people understand us.
That’s why we made the Trans Teen Survival Guide and Trans Survival Workbook – to allow people to feel seen, heard and loved. We are so happy how well it’s been received, and hope it continues to inspire and help those that need it.”
Jamie Windust (In Their Shoes)
“Looking at what representation looks like in 2023 for trans and non-binary people is really affirming and uplifting. Since we published In Their Shoes: Navigating Non Binary Life in 2020 it’s been amazing to see such an amazing array of LGBTQ+ books speaking to trans experiences flourish and fly. Personally, it’s a privilege to be able to share my story to so many that wish to engage with non-binary stories. I most appreciate the messages from young people and parents about how the book has helped them harmonise their relationship and come out.
Here’s to more trans and non-binary voices within the creative world, holding autonomy and being able to tell the stories that they want to tell.”
T.C Oakes-Monger (All The Things They Said We Couldn’t Have: Stories of Trans Joy)
“Visibility can be a wonderful thing. It can bring community and hope and change and that quiet voice that says “I see you”. It can also bring headlines and fear and hate speech. I am tired. I am tired of trans visibility being a headline every day that makes people afraid.
We are growers and dancers and gardeners and dreamers and artists and prophets and gamers. We are afraid and courageous, lonely and community, changing and growing, ancient and new, across and beyond. We are grief and rage and brilliant joy.
To you who write the headlines that make us visible in the ways you want us to be: You don’t know us, and that will always be your loss.”
Harry Nicholas (A Trans Man Walks into a Gay Bar)
“Visibility is an important but limited tool in liberating people from oppression. When I came out as a trans man almost a decade ago, there wasn’t any visibility or recognition of trans people beyond an occasional headline or fleeting character on TV. Now we’re looking at a 400% increase of reporting on trans people in the UK media – the content of which ain’t pretty – and we’re only ever one roast potato away from ‘the trans debate’ being brought up at the dinner table. Despite this, visibility allows people to feel seen, the importance of which should not be understated. To know there are others like you living happy, fun-filled and joyous lives is something we all – trans or not – need.”
Eris Young – (They/Them/Their, Ace Voices)
“As a member of multiple invisible communities within an already marginalized demographic, I’m well aware of the power and challenges of visibility. Being able to be seen and see myself as part of wider communities, trans and ace, has changed my life, showing me that there is strength in numbers and that I’m not alone, even if society has told me I am. At the same time, the trans and ace communities are tightly intertwined, not least because, as the asexual and ace-spectrum communities have become more visible to the allo public, we have also increasingly come under attack by TERFs and homophobes, for whom asexuality is just another way of being that doesn’t fit with their worldview. In this way, while visibility has empowered trans and asexual people in recent years, it has also exposed us to increased risk of violence.”
Ben Pechey (The Book of Non-Binary Joy)
Visibility is a double-edged sword currently. In one sense it is important to me, as a role model and advocate for my community, being visible inspires and provides comfort. But also being visible, vulnerable, and authentic feels the least safe it has in my lifetime, and this has many implications for the whole community.
More than ever; being trans needs to be taken seriously and not sensationalised. This will give us all room to just live. We’re not headlines – we’re people. Being trans shouldn’t be about fighting for our existence – which many of us already have had to do – it should be about living as we want all the time, right now.
I am hopeful for a future where days like TDOV, are a joy-filled occasion. The strength and beauty of our community make me believe this is a possible reality. I just hope we all live to see it.