March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility. The day was established in 2009 by Michigan-based transgender activist Rachel Crandall as a way to honor, empower, recognize and bring attention to the successes of transgender and gender-nonconforming people globally. It is also a day to acknowledge the work that remains to be done to get trans justice.
Within the Black community, the day is an opportunity to amplify Black trans people, their work, barrier-breaking achievements, and continued calls for justice .
In an interview with People last year, Actress Angelica Ross said, “If I could put one message on a billboard for this International Transgender Day of Visibility, it would be this: embrace all women.”
“We can’t keep invalidating other people’s experiences and not hearing their truths,” she added. Ross made history recently as the first transgender woman actress to land two regular roles in series, Pose and American Horror Story: 1984.
Black trans people have made undeniable impacts in the arts and in every field, though they are not always recognized for their work. Additionally, data shows Black trans women and trans women of color are disproportionately victims of violence. Organizations like Black Visions Collective, Transgender Law Center, and The Okra Project are working to support transgender people and achieve justice. Part of the work includes dismantling ignorance and raising awareness of people’s existence.
“There is not a thorough understanding of what being transgender actually means,” Ross wrote to People. “Most people think it’s a physical transition, and that’s where we have a problem, because it’s not just about the physical transition –– it’s about becoming who you are,” she said.
Trans misogyny, Ross added, is a “nasty intersection that hurts all women.”
“You can learn to be a safe space for trans people and hold others accountable in your own circles to make sure they are a safe space, too,” Ross said. “We need to see trans people as human beings who are going through their own journey to become who they’re supposed to be.”
Here a few organizations to support and learn from: