Today is March 31st, the annual International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV)! Founded in 2009 as a response to the lack of positive commemorative days associated with the transgender community, TDOV is dedicated to celebrating the lives, accomplishments, and diversity of transgender people while also raising awareness of the work that is still needed to be done to save and protect trans lives.
For friends, family, allies, and our communities, today is a devoted time for us to visibly show our support for the transgender community; to educate ourselves and spread awareness on issues affecting trans lives; to learn about how to actively be an ally and advocate for the rights of trans people; to listen to and amplify trans voices; and to commit to making a safer world for trans, nonbinary, and gender noncomforming people.
There are many ways to do these things today and anytime! You can take time to learn about trans history, pronouns, and current terminology; support and share the work of trans-led organizations; and read, watch, and listen to works by trans, nonbinary, and gender noncomforming authors, artists, and researchers!
If you’re looking for a place to start, below is an assortment of works that we have available in our main and e-book collections that are either written by trans authors or prominently feature and aim to amplify trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming voices:
Bamby Salcedo is a nationally and internationally recognized activist, author, community organizer, and advocate. Bamby has produced and developed several ground-breaking programs and advocacy organizations. Her remarkable and wide-ranging activist work has brought voice and visibility to not only the trans community, but also to the multiple overlapping communities and issues that her life has touched including migration, HIV, youth, LGBT, incarceration, and Latinx communities. She spent eight dedicated years as the Health Education and HIV Prevention Services Coordinator at the nation’s largest and most experienced clinical program providing multidisciplinary healthcare and services to trans youth. Salcedo is the founder and president of the Trans-Latin@ Coalition, an organization dedicated to the specific needs of trans Latinx immigrants in the United States.
In her third collection of poetry, Holy Wild, Gwen Benaway explores the complexities of being an Indigenous trans woman in expansive lyric poems. She holds up the Indigenous trans body as a site of struggle, liberation, and beauty. A confessional poet, Benaway narrates her sexual and romantic intimacies with partners as well as her work to navigate the daily burden of transphobia and violence. She examines the intersections of Indigenous and trans experience through autobiographical poems and continues to speak to the legacy of abuse, violence, and colonial erasure that defines Canada. Her sparse lines, interwoven with English and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), illustrate the wonder and power of Indigenous trans womanhood in motion. Holy Wild is not an easy book, as Benaway refuses to give any simple answers, but it is a profoundly vibrant and beautiful work filled with a transcendent grace.
Based on 150 in-depth interviews, Lori B. Girshick, a sociologist and social justice activist, brings together the voices of sex- and gender-diverse people who speak with absolute candor about their lives. Girshick presents trans people speaking in their own voices about identity, coming out, passing, sexual orientation, relationship negotiations and the dynamics of attraction, homophobia (including internalized fears), and bullying. She exposes the guilt and the shame that “gender police” use in their attempts to exert control and points out the many ways trans people are discriminated against in daily life, from filling out identification documents to gender-segregated bathrooms. By showing us a variety of descriptions of diverse real lives and providing a thorough exploration of the embodied experiences of gender variant people, Girshick demonstrates that there is nothing inherently binary about gender, and that the way each of us experiences our own gender is, in fact, normal and natural.
This is both a personal book that offers an account of the author’s own trans* identity and a deeply engaged study of trans collegians that reveals the complexities of trans identities. This study also explores how these students navigate the oppression present throughout society and their institutions, create community and resilience, and establish meaning and control in a world that assumes binary genders. This book is addressed as much to trans students themselves as it is to faculty, student affairs professionals, and college administrators, opening the implications for the classroom and the wider campus. This book not only remedies the scarcity of literature on trans college students, but does so from a perspective of resiliency and agency. Rather than situating trans students as problems requiring accommodation, this book problematizes the college environment and frames trans students as resilient individuals capable of participating in supportive communities and kinship networks, and of developing strategies to promote their own success.
A richly evocative collection of photographs by internationally renowned photographer Kike Arnal, Bordered Lives seeks to push back against the transphobic caricatures that have perpetuated discrimination against the transgender community in Mexico. In the highly personal profiles that make up Bordered Lives, Arnal takes us into the lives of seven individuals in and around Mexico City. He shows them going about their day-to-day lives: getting ready in the morning, interacting with family and friends, and devoting their lives to helping others in the transgender community. Deeply honest, sensitive, and humane, Bordered Lives challenges society’s preconceived notions of sexuality, gender, and beauty not only in Mexico but across the globe.
The story of Christine Jorgensen, America’s first prominent person to medically transition, famously narrated trans embodiment in the postwar era. Her celebrity, however, has obscured other mid-century trans narratives—ones lived by African Americans such as Lucy Hicks Anderson and James McHarris. Their erasure from trans history masks the profound ways race has figured prominently in the construction and representation of transgender subjects. C. Riley Snorton identifies multiple intersections between blackness and transness from the mid-nineteenth century to present-day anti-black and anti-trans legislation and violence. In tracing the twinned genealogies of blackness and transness, Snorton follows multiple trajectories, from the medical experiments conducted on enslaved black women by J. Marion Sims, the father of American gynecology, to the negation of blackness that makes transnormativity possible.
A fascinating collective memoir of the lives and experiences of transgender people in their own voices. In this remarkable book, Jackson Shultz records the stories of more than thirty Americans who identify as transgender. They range in age from fifteen to seventy-two; come from twenty-five different states and a wide array of racial, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds; and identify across a vast spectrum of genders and sexualities. From historical descriptions of activism to personal stories of discrimination, love, and community, these accounts of gender transition shed light on the uncharted territories that lie beyond the gender binary. Despite encounters with familial rejection, drug addiction, and medical malpractice, each account is imbued with optimism and humor, providing a thoughtful look at the daily joys and struggles of transgender life. With an introduction and explanations from the author, this work will appeal to transgender individuals, their significant others, friends, family, and allies; health-care providers, educators, and legal professionals; and anyone questioning their own gender, considering transition, or setting out on their own transition journey.
This is the second edition of the classic text on transgender history with a new introduction and updated material throughout. Covering American transgender history from the mid-twentieth century to today, Transgender History takes a chronological approach, with each chapter covering major movements, writings, and events. Transgender History includes informative sidebars that highlight quotes from major texts and speeches in transgender history and brief biographies of key players, plus excerpts from transgender memoirs and discussion of treatments of the trans community in popular culture.
For more information about International Transgender Day of Visibility, you can visit the Human Right’s Campaign’s TDOV webpage.
Out & Equal, a workplace equality non-profit, also has an informative presentation on the TDOV: “How to Celebrate Transgender Employees on TDOV and Year-Round”
I also found GLAAD’s list of tips for allies of trans people (and resources like this one) to be helpful!