“We are parents and family members. We are your coworkers, your neighbors and your friends. We are a diverse community, representing all racial and ethnic backgrounds as well as all faith traditions."
- Human Rights Campaign, Understanding the Transgender Community
March 31st marks International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day to celebrate the lives and contributions of trans individuals in our communities.
A simple understanding of cis(gender) and trans(gender) identities is:
- A cis(gender) identifying person is “someone whose biology aligns with the gender they were assigned at birth.”
- A trans(gender) identifying person is “someone whose biology does not align with the gender they were assigned at birth.”
(Above definitions provided by Spectrum)
There are more genders than this, along with many more ways we can talk about gender that go beyond definitions. How we experience gender is complex, nuanced, and unique to each of us. While we all experience gender differently, those living outside of a cis identity may not be fairly recognized, validated, or provided the same level of safety in everyday spaces. As such “Two Spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people,” can experience mental health challenges, not as a result of their identity, but “typically related to discrimination and maltreatment.” 
Where to Find Support
- SPECTRUM supports LGBTQ2+ people & families in Waterloo Region (ourspectrum.com)
- Mental Health Services for Gender-Diverse and Sexual-Minority Youth (cmha.ca)
Beginning in 2009, International Transgender Day of Visibility was started by Rachel Crandall, an activist from Michigan, who in response to frustrations that the only familiar day centering trans people was one of remembrance, was inspired to create a day that honoured and celebrated the living. “I hear from people all over the world about visibility,” she said, “and I’ve heard from some people who said they would love to be visible but it’s just not safe where they are.” 
What are some ways to celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility as individuals?
We can honour the courage it takes to develop and exist outside of assigned definitions and practice gratitude for the freedom this provides us all. We can educate ourselves about various gender identities and be thankful for the beauty of difference. We can seek out art, stories, and experiences of trans individuals in celebration.
What does it mean to celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility as an organization?
Those in the trans community may not be open about their gender in all spaces out of “fear of discrimination, or by choice,” and it can be hard to “understand or provide support to a community” that isn’t always visible.  However, this is also why it is essential to be visible in our gratitude for trans lives and make a conscious effort to ensure our spaces are welcoming to all gender identities.
Today and always, we honour and celebrate the inherent beauty of trans individuals in our communities. Happy International Transgender Day of Visibility!
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