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Transgender Day of Visibility: Recognizing, Celebrating, and Amplifying Transgender Individuals

2024 Transgender Day of Visibility

by Affirmation

March 24, 2024

Visibility matters.

In 1978, Harvey Milk, one of the first LGBTQ+ individuals elected to public office in the United States, pleaded for others to come out and be visible. “Come out only to the people you know, and who know you,” he said. “…break down the myths. Destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. Less than ten years earlier, the LGBTQ+ community at Stonewall refused to continue to suffer police abuse in silence and invisibility, igniting the LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States. At the frontline of the Stonewall Riots were transgender activists.

Each year on March 31st, Affirmation joins the international community in celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility. Since 2009, this has been a day to recognize, celebrate, and amplify transgender individuals within the LGBTQ+ community. It is also a day where we rededicate ourselves to growing in our awareness and understanding of issues impacting the transgender community and advocating for equality and protection under the law.

In celebration of Transgender Day of Visibility, we highlight transgender members of the Affirmation community who share their thoughts on the importance of visibility and how we can all amplify their voices and their personal experiences. We are grateful for their valuable contributions and ongoing impact within Affirmation.

Visibility can be in the small things, like having your gender identity recognized and respected in your day-to-day life, as Laurie Lee Hall describes.

Laurie Lee Hall

Simple Words of Affirmation

While still full of childhood innocence, I learned the difference between girls and boys. My inner voice assured me that I was a girl, and in my naivety, I tried to be seen for who I was. Though family members and others impressed upon me that I was a boy and must dress and behave like one, I only wanted to be allowed to be me.

Then, as a teen – and for most of my adult life, stark reality, coupled with no clear path forward to living my identity, I was forced to hide who I was; I could not allow my true self to be seen.

Coming out and transitioning over the past twelve years has afforded me the blessing of finally living life visibly and authentically. I rejoice in the peace this journey has brought to me.

Recent politicization of anti-transgender legislation seems to have granted the conservative public permission to be judgmental and unkind to me and my trans colleagues. I’ve seen an uptick in this behavior where I live in Kentucky.

Nevertheless, this past week, I was thrilled to be looked upon positively while shopping by strangers (male store clerks) who saw me and responded accordingly.

I had made no particular effort to present overly feminine on these occasions. I wore a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, with my hair down, no makeup, just me being me. First, I walked into a paint store and was immediately greeted with a “Good morning, Ma’am!” The second came when I showed my register receipt while exiting Costco. The elderly checker smiled and replied, “Thank you, ma’am. Have a great day!”

Simple words of kindness, offered with no particular agenda, were beautiful affirmations. Since then, I have frequently reminded myself that I have been seen, which has brought me calming joy, like an elating infusion of happy stimulus.

Visibility can be working to improve the lives of others who are trying to live authentically and funding purpose and strength in that work, as shared by Rebecca Solen.

Rebecca Solen

As a transgender member of society, I know the draw of being able to physically blend into society and live my life away from any further scrutiny. But, I also know that I have been given an opportunity — a chance to make life better for those who are still struggling to simply be themselves. I firmly believe that humanity as a whole has a responsibility to care for each other. We’ve been made for this purpose.

For several years now, I have found a great amount of purpose in trying to help the world understand what it means to be transgender. In the process, I have met many other wonderful people who have been working toward the same cause. We have made many strides in terms of being visible. We still have a long way to go.

For Alanna, visibility means being who you are no matter what and speaking your truth. They also encourage everyone to stand up for transgender people in all spaces.

Alanna Argudo

Visibility to me means to be unapologetically who you are, and in my case that is nonbinary, even in the face of opposition and for those around me to uplift me in ways that do not hide who I am. It also means to showcase trans, both binary and nonbinary, voices in every aspect of life from church to work to university. I am making myself visible by connecting with ex and current members when I can as well as openly speaking about my experiences as a queer and nonbinary individual raised within the LDS church. I have since left the church since coming out as nonbinary but I continue to have support from many within my childhood stake to be open about who I am.

There are many ways to amplify our voices within the LDS community but the one that comes to mind is to be willing to stand up for trans people especially in your local communities, such as wards, schools, and workplaces when we cannot or do not feel safe doing so. I understand that it’s a scary thing to do to stand up for us but we cannot live our lives freely as ourselves without the help of others. Allow us to share our stories in nonjudgmental spaces and truly allow yourself to listen to our stories with open hearts. Sometimes we need a little reminder that the Lord made us this way and he loves us just the way we are.

Increased visibility everywhere has shown it’s okay to be who I am and has guided me to people who are like me. It has shown that we are not mistakes and we are perfect in every way as we were intended to be.

Erran shares how important visibility is to challenging stereotypes and countering hate.

Erran Speaker

Being ‘visible’ can mean different things to different people. One of the things I do to increase visibility for the trans community is attend church. As a recognizably transgender woman, my participation in sacrament, sunday school and relief society meetings is both a reminder we exist and a declaration that we belong. My presence challenges negative expectations and stereotypes. Visibility humanizes us. As Brené Brown says, people are hard to hate close up. I am grateful to all the queer folks who do the difficult work of just attending church and being seen. It may seem like a small thing, but I believe it is bringing to pass something extraordinary, slowly and surely, line upon line, here a little and there a little.

I recently submitted an essay for publication in an upcoming anthology by Signature books. It occurred to me that opportunity is only available because people buy these books. In a similar way, following us on social media and liking or reposting our content is not only encouraging, but helps elevate our voices and profiles and allows us to be seen by more people. It’s also important to contribute positive comments in LDS spaces in person and online – to add good things and not to let bad things pass unchallenged. Doing so while avoiding direct challenge can seem difficult. I find telling a story that humanizes our community, talking about the love of Jesus, and steering away from political conversations usually works best.

I travel and attend church presenting as a woman. I am sure there will be bad experiences to be had in the future, but thus far I have not had any in the many wards I have visited. I almost always meet women who are friendly and specifically invite me to Relief Society and activities – and that has led to many marvelous spiritual experiences. I am entirely certain that this warmth comes from others learning to see us as people.

The Transgender Day of Visibility was created as a counterweight to the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Our acceptance by those around us must be based on something more than our tragedies. I am grateful for all those who are engaged in making that vision a reality.

Affirmation creates worldwide communities of safety, love, and hope and promotes understanding, acceptance, and self-determination of individuals of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. We affirm the inherent self-worth of LGBTQIA+ individuals as complete, equal, and valuable persons and support them as they define their individual spirituality and intersection with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

While transgender individuals, particularly youth, and their families have been targets of political rhetoric and legislation aimed at diminishing their humanity, ignoring their lived experience, and erasing their existence, Affirmation remains committed to providing a place of safety and support for transgender, queer, and intersex people. We support you in this space where you can be fully authentic in your sexual, gender, and spiritual diversity. You are worthy of respect and protection from discrimination. You are seen, you are needed, you are loved.

To learn more about Transgender Day of Visibility, other transgender individuals making a difference in our community, and related resources, please visit our friends at the Human Rights CampaignGLAAD, and PFLAG. We also encourage you to look for local opportunities to participate in marches, demonstrations, educational events, or other awareness activities that may be taking place.


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