TRANSGENDER DAY OF VISIBILITY
By Josh Buckland, Anti-Bullying Trainer
LGBTQ+ encompasses a wide range of identities and experiences and it can be easy to forget that each represents individual stories and battles, often distinct from its neighbours.
31 March 2020
Potentially, many of you reading this are currently self-isolating. If you are getting your kicks from Netflix during this difficult time I would highly recommend watching ‘The Life and Death of Marsha P Johnson’, a documentary profiling the sad demise and LGBTQ+ activism of Marsha as well as the work of her friends Sylvia Rivera and Victoria Cruz. All three are trans women at the forefront of this field of history.
When it comes to LGBTQ+ rights and the ability to live safely and unashamedly, society has come a long way. However, the trans community has often been left behind. Over time, the heterosexual and general cis (someone whose sense of gender identity corresponds with their birth sex i.e. how the majority of the population self-identify) public have grown to understand the ‘L’, ‘G’ and ‘B’, but so much confusion, miseducation and ‘othering’ of trans people persists.
Why? Perhaps because straight people have something to relate the LGB to. The attraction that LGB folk feel towards a same-sex partner is the same set of emotions they feel towards theirs. But as a person who identifies as straight, what experience would one draw on to comprehend the feelings of being assigned a sex that has eternally been at odds with your sense of self?
Our Legacy Award recipient Maya is an LGBTQ+ activist speaking out in support of equal marriage in Northern Ireland.
Although it can be hard to be empathetic to an experience of which you can’t relate, education, kindness and positive behaviour change is key to helping others understand. An ally can be defined as ‘someone who, despite being hetero or cis, still fights alongside the LGBTQ+ community for their rights and stands up to discrimination faced by its members’. We mustn’t however forget that we can all be allies to each other within the community.
In a time where debates rage on surrounding gender identity, it is easy for gender-variant identities to be invalidated and sometimes ridiculed and vilified. It’s important that we celebrate and amplify the voices of trans and non-binary people, that we listen to their stories and educate ourselves on the invaluable contributions they have made to our world. And for those in the LGBTQ+ community, let’s not forget it was trans people like Marsha, Sylvia and Victoria at the front lines of the Stonewall riots who helped catalyse our freedom today.
“It’s important that we celebrate and amplify the voices of trans and non-binary people, that we listen to their stories and educate ourselves on the invaluable contributions they have made to our world.”
Definitions (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary):
Cis: relating to, or being a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth
Hetero: relating to, or characterised by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward the opposite sex
Ally: a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle – often now used specifically of a person who is not a member of a marginalized or mistreated group but who expresses or gives support to that group
Transgender: relating to, or being a person whose gender identity differs from the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth
Gender Identity: a person’s internal sense of being male, female, some combination of male and female, or neither male nor female
Non-binary: relating to or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely male nor entirely female