On this International Transgender Day of Visibility, observed on March 31st each year, we're elevating trans voices and inviting long-time Erstwildian team member Atlas (he/they) to share his thoughts and experiences, along with what it means to be an ally in 2022.
Today we are celebrating Trans Day of Visibility, observed on March 31st each year, as an opportunity to elevate voices from the trans and gender diverse community. We've invited long-time Erstwildian team member Atlas (he/they) to share his thoughts and experiences, along with what it means to be an ally in 2022. Trans Day of Visibility, or #TDOV, is an annual international celebration of trans pride and awareness, recognizing trans and gender diverse experiences and achievements. Together we can celebrate gender diverse people all around Australia (and the world!) by sharing stories, starting conversations, and attending events.
"Walk the Walk"
There's a certain level of martyrdom that comes with being an out trans person. Don't get me wrong, there are people that ask questions with an open heart and a genuine desire to understand more, but these can be few and far between. Mostly, you find yourself fielding easily Googleable questions from people that don't have good intentions, and being expected to answer very personal and terribly intimate questions with good grace.
While we don't owe anyone an explanation about our identity, there's a deep, pervasive feeling that if you act differently, they'll think differently. So instead of just being allowed to exist, you have to present yourself in a certain palatable way in the hopes of turning hearts. It's not fair, but it is a reality for many trans people. It's exhausting, and it can be very isolating. It can feel like there's simply not enough voices in the chorus, and it's your voice alone. That's a lot of pressure. And realistically, minds are very hard to change once they're made up. But you still try. Why? If someone's mind isn't going to change, why bother? If their perception of you and trans rights hinged on ONE trans person's behaviour, isn't their allyship conditional? Why waste precious emotional and mental energy defending yourself if it probably won't alter their opinion? And, if you're a cis and straight person, how does this apply to you?
Well, honestly, it's because it's not about you, or about me. Sure, it's wickedly unpleasant to have to remind a loved one of your pronouns and your real name, but I'm not just fighting for myself. You're not just fighting for you. You're doing it for every trans or queer person, especially the ones that aren't out, or aren't in a safe environment to be their authentic selves. It's so incredibly important for young queer and trans people to see someone standing up and saying "You are valid, you are enough, and I am going to stand by you". I can't express the difference it would have made in my life to see that kind of allyship when I was younger.
It's a sad truth that trans and queer voices are often silenced, or not listened to with the same respect as someone who is cis and straight. If anything, as a cis and straight person, your voice carries louder and stronger in arguments. You're not as likely to be accused of being overly-emotional or biased. If you are in a safe space to use your voice to show your allyship and support, I encourage you to do it whenever you can. Be loud in your celebration of your trans and queer friends, and don't let our voices stand alone.
When you hear your colleague or partner or family member say something homophobic or transphobic, call it out.
When you see someone on social media expressing bigotry, call it out.
I know it's tiring. I know you don't really want to get into it with Uncle John. But it's going to make such a difference to your cousin that's still in the closet, or your family friend who's being treated differently at work because they came out.