About the day
Transgender Day of Visibility is a day to explore the long history of transgender people and their place in society today. Taking place on March 31st annually, this day serves as a powerful reminder to recognize and commemorate the diverse experiences, achievements, and contributions of transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people from all corners of the world.
How to approach it
This day was created by transgender activist Rachel Crandall in 2009 primarily as a way to explore the achievements and experiences of living trans people. It can be useful to explore the lives of famous trans people today, however it’s also important to remember that students should be considering the experiences of ‘everyday’ trans people as well. Often, on days like this there is a focus on those who have achieved great things - but we should also consider that trans people don’t have to justify their existence by excelling as citizens - the same goes for refugees, people of colour or other LGBTQ+ people. Instead, help your students to see trans people as embedded in our communities all of the time, not necessarily remarkable, just getting on with their lives as all of us are.
One good way to do this is to explore the existence of trans and non-binary people throughout history. These identities challenge the notion that transgender experiences are a recent phenomenon. For instance, the hijra community in South Asia, recognized as a distinct third gender, has existed for centuries. Indigenous cultures in North America have long celebrated Two-Spirit individuals who embody both masculine and feminine qualities and hold esteemed spiritual roles. In Samoa, the fa'afafine, assigned male at birth, embrace female gender roles and live normally in their communities. Similarly, the Zapotec culture of Oaxaca, Mexico, acknowledges the muxe, who are assigned male at birth but take on female gender roles. Through these examples we can show that trans people have existed and continue to exist in the present day. This helps to remove stigmas of difference or newness to the trans community.
Trans and non-binary people have existed throughout history. What different examples of non-binary groups can you find? Why have some communities acknowledged and celebrated trans people while others have not?