Trans people need more than a day of mourning

March 31 is Transgender Day of Visibility. If you weren’t aware, or didn’t even know that such a day existed, that’s understandable. It’s typical for trans people to be invisible, at least until we are brutally murdered for simply existing. It then becomes a grotesque kind of hyper-visibility that makes a spectacle of our deaths and puts our bodies on display without care or consent.

Consequently, it makes sense that the only other day for trans people is Transgender Day of Remembrance, which memorializes and mourns the loss of trans people to transphobic violence and hate crimes and highlights the continued violence and hatred endured by the trans community. It’s a heavy, painful day, especially for trans people.

I never even entertained the possibility of coming out until I found out about Transgender Day of Visibility. Before, all I had was a day about trans people being killed. All it inspired in me was fear.

While it is important to reflect on the rampant transphobia that exists in this day and age, the fact of the matter is that trans people will never be in danger of forgetting the threat that comes with being themselves. We can never forget the names and faces of those we lost. We can never forget that just last year showed the highest number of recorded murders of trans people. We can never forget the risk that comes with being out. We can never forget that we’re not safe, that we’ll never be safe, because that is the dominant narrative pushed upon us. That all we’re worth is remembrance when we’re gone.

I don’t want to say that everything changed when I found out about Transgender Day of Visibility back in 2014. I didn’t come out that year, or the year after that. This year, well, I’m trying. I’m writing this piece after all. I’m already out to my boyfriend, which was a huge step, and I’m going to make an effort to tell my close friends. I’m still afraid, of course. Sometimes I think I’ll be afraid forever. But that fear lessens just a little bit after I see face after smiling face accompanied by these defiant words: Yes, I’m trans. Yes, I’m genderqueer. Yes, I’m non-binary. Yes, I’m agender. Yes, I’m genderfluid.

Transgender Day of Visibility is transformative. It gave us the power to come out and celebrate who we are. It gave us the agency to reject the fear that dominants our lives and controls us. It gave us the opportunity to inspire hope in trans and non-binary teens who feel scared and alone. It gave us a reason to be proud of who we are, right now, in this moment.

Pride, I think, is the biggest tool the trans community has. I want so badly for trans people to be proud of their identities and proud of their bodies. I want to be proud of my identity and proud of my body. I want that pride to fuel us, to empower us, to declare our presence and demand more than what has been given to us. Transgender Day of Visibility isn’t a magic wand that will erase all transphobia in the world, but it is a vital step towards trans liberation. That is something worth remembering.

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