It’s Saturday morning as I write this and I didn’t have any plans initially to add a new blog post today. The reason is that today is International Transgender Day of Visibility. For those of you still unaware of this day, TDOV is meant to celebrate trans people of all stripes, their accomplishments and well being; highlight the blockades of discrimination the worldwide trans community has faced and continue to withstand; and recognize those in our community and our allies who have continued the fight against trans discrimination. If you’re wondering, yes, I have plans to venture out and be visible on this TDOV. For starters, the trans/CD support group I’m part of has a meeting this afternoon, after which some of us will enjoy dinner at a nearby restaurant. Then, should time permit, I’m hoping to take part in a freeform open mic event at Mother Fool’s on Williamson Street.
So, yeah, my female side has a busy day ahead of her, and it’ll need to start with a long, hot shower to cleanse off this downer of a month for me professionally. Still, I needed to share some thoughts on this Trans Day of Visibility on here because… well, it’s Trans Day of Visibility. First, I want to share with you a blog post written this morning by someone I follow on WordPress who like me identifies as a crossdresser and member of the trans community, Hannah. Her thoughts (and I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing them here) include the following:
“I fully believe that each time we leave the house and interact with people in the real world we have an opportunity and an obligation to show others that transpeople live in the community and not just in Hollywood. It’s a chance to show others, whether it’s the cashier at the mall, the barista at Starbucks or someone we pass in the store that we really exist, that we are real people and hopefully not as different as some might think we are.”
That paragraph from Hannah (and, again, those were her words, so credit goes to her for expressing them) really struck a chord in me. For several years, Allison had been safely(?) ensconced in the online environment, venturing out into the real world only a couple of times, and only in a supportive environment, before hiding back home. But in the past year-plus, I have stepped out of my all-too-crowded closet and have been visible. Sure, most of that visibility has been in the friendly confines of a support group, but it has also been in public environments. Whatever the place and the circumstances, I have found that… I am visible.
When I step out of the house all dolled up… I am visible.
When I take that drive to and from that very supportive support group… I am visible.
When I’m still dolled up and I make a pit stop at the grocery store to or from the meeting, even if it’s just to pick up that gallon of milk or pint of ice cream I’ve been meaning to buy but hadn’t gotten around to doing so in male mode… I am visible.
When I’m at the McDonald’s drive-thru window after the support meeting to pick up a quick bite to eat, all because I didn’t eat before the meeting… I am visible.
When I’m enjoying a post-meeting dinner with my fellow trans sisters and brothers… we are visible.
When I’m marching en femme with my trans sisters and brothers, or joining other LGBT+ people in a pride parade or celebratory banquet… we are visible.
When I’m celebrating other trans people of any stripe, as well as any supportive cis ally or anyone in the broad LGBT+ community… I am visible.
When I get over my nerves about public speaking and present my poetry in person to a receptive audience… I am visible.
When I’m posting my own pictures, telling my own stories, expressing my own thoughts, or celebrating my own accomplishments (even if it’s just online)… it’s not a sign that I am vain. On the contrary, it’s just me being visible.
Also, when I’m telling my own stories, and my trans sisters and brothers do the same… we’re standing up to those who wish to shun us into a dark corner so that we’re never seen again. Nope, we’re staying strong and visible.
When the clerk at the supermarket walks past me and can’t help but say, “I love your outfit,” or that cashier at the McDonald’s window compliments me on my makeup or hair or outfit (and, yes, they have happened to me)… I am blushing over receiving a good word, and I am thankful that I am visible.
When someone online also compliments me on how beautiful they think I am… I’m just as thankful for their kind words as the fact that I am visible.
When someone gives me constructive criticism with their compliments… well, it’s words that I take to heart (though I try not to let those words pierce my heart), as their words are advice I should heed to present myself better in the future. Whatever their words, though, it’s a moment that makes me glad I am visible.
And when someone who is not ready to come out to their family and friends — regardless of whether they’re gay or or bisexual or cis-gender or trans or gender non-conforming — and gains inspiration from how I present myself… well, first, I sympathize with them because I am not entirely out to the rest of the world (my family and work colleagues do not know about Allison). But then I tell them that if or when they’re ready to do so, they will have more support then they thought they’d get, for there will be supportive avenues online and in their community. It makes me thankful that I am visible enough to provide that support, and hopeful that when they are good and ready, they will live as their own, true selves… and become visible.
From myself to the countless fellow LGBT+ people around the world, specifically those in the broad transgender community and fellow crossdressers like myself, thank you for your own inspiring stories and displays of being yourselves. Just as I may inspire future generations to be themselves, you’ve inspired me to be comfortable with both my male and female sides, and to express both sides to the supportive and accepting corners of Madison, Wisconsin, and the world. Thank you for being visible, because you’ve inspired me to be visible as well. Happy Transgender Day of Visibility to you all.