Over the past few years, being a visible trans person has become a double-edged sword: There’s increased representation in entertainment media, with more celebrities coming out as trans or gender-nonconforming, and greater recognition of Trans Day of Visibility, which was recognized on a national level for the first time last year.
But there’s also been a swift uptick in anti-trans legislation across state Legislatures. This year alone, close to 500 bills have been introduced that would cause varying degrees of harm to trans people if passed.
This year’s Trans Day of Visibility, on March 31, arrives in a much different environment than the first one. Founded in 2009 by Rachel Crandall Crocker, who also co-founded advocacy organization Transgender Michigan, Trans Day of Visibility came out of her impulse to show and recognize a broader spectrum of trans experience that went beyond celebrating life after death.
“Whenever I hear about our community, it seems to be from [Transgender] Remembrance Day which is always so negative because it's about people who were killed,” she said in a 2009 interview.
During the March 21 Sacramento City Council meeting where a resolution was passed recognizing the week leading up to Trans Day of Visibility as Trans Visibility Week, Evan Minton, who works in the state Legislature, articulated the continued struggles trans people face — which go hand-in-hand with visibility.
“In Sacramento, our community continues to struggle for visibility, it continues to struggle for healthcare, it continues to struggle against homelessness, against poverty, it continues to struggle for restroom access in schools,” he said.
In the face of pushback to their existence, trans people in the Sacramento region are continuing to carve out spaces for joy and community to celebrate themselves and to share stories. For example, Al Walton, a gender-affirming services coordinator at One Community Health, helped organize a Trans Day of Visibility event that’s explicitly focused on welcoming both trans elders and young adults to better help create a sense of intergenerational community and togetherness.
“In the queer community in general, you can become an elder so much faster — it has nothing to do with age,” they said. “The moment you feel comfortable and safe enough to be passing on that knowledge to younger queer, trans people, you’re an elder.”
To them, visibility can also be a form of safety: “By sharing stories, we’re learning from one another.”
And another organizer for the event, Ember Ward, acknowledged that discussions about safety are inextricable from those about visibility.
“Visibility without the necessary resources to go along with that safety — and the necessary physical safety to go along with that visibility — will inherently create more problems in the long run … There is a relative safety that folks can have with resources, but in the wrong environment, even that will not protect them necessarily,” Ward said.
It’s why they made it a point to include HIV testing and education as an opt-in component for the event.
But ultimately, Ward hopes the event — and others like it — can be a moment of reprieve in a world that rarely grants it to trans people.
“I’m looking forward to trans joy, I’m looking forward to people not being so serious,” he said. “This shit is so serious, serious, serious all the time. And that’s legitimate. And joy is also legitimate, silliness is also legitimate.”
“All of these things need to exist so that we can all be able to be people by the end of the day, because I do not want us as trans people to fall into the trap of becoming hollow from the trauma … and from the onslaught of attacks that are constantly occurring.”
Thursday, March 30:
- 6 p.m.: Trans flag raised at the West Sacramento City Hall.
- Location: West Sacramento City Hall
- Cost: Free.
- Activities: Flag-raising.
Friday, March 31:
- 5-9 p.m.: “Trans Day of Visibility” — Hosted by CommuniCare and One Community Health, organizers describe it as a “chill vibes mixer” for the “young adult and elder transgender community.” RSVP here.
- Location: Sierra 2 Center, Sacramento, CA
- Cost: Free.
- Activities: Tie dye, snacks and beverages, HIV testing & education, open mic, performances and art from local trans artists. The first 30 attendees will receive 30 trans wellness bags.
- 6-9:30 p.m.: “Trans Day of Visibility Party” — The event is a partnership between #SacTownYouthNights and the Sacramento LGBT Community Center. Register here.
- Location: Sacramento LGBT Community Center
- Cost: Free.
- Activities: Art activities, snacks, queer voices and drag queen performances.
- 7-9 p.m.: “Trans Visibility Drag Show Fundraiser” — The WERQ room is holding a drag show fundraiser for all ages, with proceeds going to organizations supporting trans empowerment. Purchase tickets here.
- Location: 1107 Firehouse Alley, Sacramento, CA
- Cost: $15.
- Activities: Drag performances, musical numbers.
Saturday, April 8:
- 6:30-9 p.m.: “Celebrate Trans Joy” — An event co-hosted by A Seat at the Table Books and small business Uncommon Finch for trans people and their allies, 16 and above. Masks are required. Purchase tickets here.
- Location: A Seat at the Table Books, Elk Grove, CA
- Cost: $18.00 with some low-cost and reduced-price tickets available.
- Activities: Vendors, music, open mic.
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