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In Honor of the International Transgender Day of Visibility

In 2009, Rachel Crandall, a Michigan activist, called for the establishment of a new holiday, on the grounds that the only well-known transgender holiday — the Transgender Day of Remembrance, established in 1999 — was a day for mourning the dead, rather than celebrating the living. While plenty of activists have observed it since, the first formal observation of the date by a U.S. president was in 2021, when President Joe Biden recognized March 31st as the International Transgender Day of Visibility. This year, we celebrate the second instance of a Day of Visibility observed by the United States government. (Another presidential proclamation was made yesterday, to similar effect.)
Why trans visibility? Compare the Trans Day of Action, in May — we can all certainly recognize the value of action to the fight for equality. Visibility might seem a little passive, in comparison. But as a transgender librarian, I can say that without the growing effort by other trans people, activists and otherwise, to be visible, I would likely not be who I am today. I was only able to transition when I found an environment with other people like me — people who had dealt with the same social, emotional and medical frustrations, and who had found solutions whose existence I had only dimly grasped before. They made it clear to me — not through convincing me, but just by living — that it was possible for me to live in a way that would make me happy with my body and my mind. So I did. I haven’t looked back since.
American psychologist Rollo May said that depression is the inability to construct a future. When all you have are stories about trans people suffering and dying — important as it may be to know how anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is affecting us — it can be difficult to imagine a future in which it is remotely possible to live as yourself. The Transgender Day of Visibility is about making it clear that trans existence is possible — not just for celebrities with money to spare, but for ordinary people with small, functional and peaceful lives. It’s why I wear a trans flag lanyard to the library every day. It’s why we’ll be running an LGBTQ+ Affinity Group in our art gallery, to connect LGBTQ+ teenagers with a caring community that can help them figure out what they need most. My hope is to make it clear — to anyone who doesn’t already know — that transition is a real, viable path that one can take into adulthood and beyond, and that the library as an institution will support anyone who’s chosen to walk it.
Diane Mignault
Yonkers Riverfront Library