Image description: Janet Mock, Grand Marshall at the 2014 San Francisco Pride Parade
Transgender Visibility Day, also known as ‘TDoV’, is celebrated on the 31st March. It was started in 2009 by Rachel Crandall Crocker, a trans-activist in the US and one of the co-founders of Transgender Michigan. Though distinct from the Transgender Day of Remembrance (20th November), it remains an important reminder of the struggle that trans people face for acceptance and their rights. The day is typically celebrated with parades, and this year Cardiff sees its very first.
The trans report released by Stonewall revealed some alarming statistics about the lives of trans people in the UK. In 2018, two in five experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity over the last twelve months, and the statistic was even higher for younger trans adults between the ages of 18 and 24, at 53 percent. What’s worse is that 79 percent do not report it to the police, some for fear of lack of support or further discrimination.
“Two thirds of transgender students that participated in the survey said that they had experienced transphobia or discrimination while at the University of Oxford.”
The Oxford LGBTQ+ Campaign also conducted its own trans report. Two thirds of transgender students that participated in the survey said that they had experienced transphobia or discrimination while at the University of Oxford, and while a third of participants said that they would feel comfortable or very comfortable reporting incidences of transphobia or discrimination regarding their peers, a concerning 54 percent said that they would feel uncomfortable or very uncomfortable doing so.
But progress is being made. Trans representation in mainstream media is gradually increasing, with television shows like Ryan Murphy’s Pose, expected to include over fifty transgender characters in total; the sixth episode was directed by Janet Mock, making her the first transgender woman of colour to write and direct any episode of television. Angela Ponce also made history in June 2018 as the first transgender woman to be crowned Miss Spain, representing her country at Miss Universe. This year, the Australian soap Neighbours has cast its first transgender character, played by Georgie Stone, who is trans herself, and Tanwarin Sukkhapisit has become Thailand’s first transgender MP. She has also declared her intention to represent the country’s LGBTQ+ community.
“The trans community obviously still faces many great obstacles. But perhaps this Trans Visibility Day can be a day of hope, too.”
In terms of legislation, a consultation was opened by the government in 2018 regarding the Gender Recognition Act 2004 – a huge step forward at the time but now severely outdated – gathering testimonies from trans people for sixteen weeks. Though the result has not yet been released, there may be reason to be hopeful. A bill has also been passed unanimously in Pakistan, allowing its citizens to self-identify as male, female, both, or neither, and to have their gender identity reflected on their documents, reflecting great progress there. And within Oxford itself, student initiatives like Rainbow Peers and Twelfare are making an extremely positive impact – even if they may point to flaws in staff-led services like the University Counselling Service – with the LGBTQ+ Campaign striving to effect further change and improve the lives of the university’s trans students.
The trans community obviously still faces many great obstacles. But perhaps this Trans Visibility Day can be a day of hope, too.