(WFFF) — Wednesday was International Transgender Day of Visibility, which recognizes the accomplishments made by the trans community and the work still needed to ensure their equal rights.
“You can’t legislate us out of existence. You can’t discriminate against us until we’re gone,” said Gustavo Mercado Muniz, transgender program coordinator at Outright Vermont. “We’re a part of society and we have every right to be here.”
The day highlights the transgender community and their lived experiences, but visibility can sometimes be a double-edged sword. The community still faces several issues. Discrimination and danger follow transfolk just for existing.
“While we need to see ourselves visible in the world, that visibility does not equal safety for many folks,” said Dana Kaplan, Executive Director of Outright Vermont. “It’s really a matter of scare tactics and discrimination, and it needs to stop.”
Kaplan is referring to measures being advanced around the nation right now, to restrict transition-related healthcare from youth and set restrictions around sports participation. National data also shows that transgender people are more than four times as likely to experience violence, harassment, and discrimination. It’s something Muniz sees in their work daily.
“One of our biggest ones right now is housing,” Muniz said. “We talk to a lot of trans folks facing discrimination in housing, and just don’t have anywhere else to go because of the housing shortage.”
Pres. Joe Biden issued a formal proclamation Wednesday morning, observing the day, the first sitting president to do so since the start of TDOV in 2009.
On the local level, transgender Rep Taylor Small recently passed legislation to ban the “panic defense” from being used against trans people. Allies say changes like this—as well as gender-neutral bathrooms and respecting preferred pronouns go a long way, but the work doesn’t stop there.
“It’s on all of us to say we see you, we support you,” Kaplan said. “To recognize there’s small things we can do to show up for our community on a daily basis to really shift the health disparities we see both in Vermont and nationwide.