International Transgender Day of Visibility
On March 31, 2021, President Joe Biden issued the first presidential proclamation recognizing Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV). He stated, “Today, we honor and celebrate the achievements and resiliency of transgender individuals and communities. Transgender Day of Visibility recognizes the generations of struggle, activism, and courage that have brought our country closer to full equality for transgender and gender non-binary people in the United States and around the world. Their trailblazing work has given countless transgender individuals the bravery to live openly and authentically. This hard-fought progress is also shaping an increasingly accepting world in which peers at school, teammates and coaches on the playing field, colleagues at work, and allies in every corner of society are standing in support and solidarity with the transgender community.”
TDOV was founded in 2009 by Rachel Crandall, a Michigan-based transgender activist and the Executive Director of Transgender Michigan. Crandall started it as a day of awareness to commemorate the successes of transgender and gender-nonconforming people.
Transgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. If someone says they are a trans woman, it means that they were assigned male at birth and have since transitioned to female. Vice versa, trans male were assigned female at birth and now identify as male.
Transgender is a gender identity or expression. Many people confuse gender identity with sexual orientation. Gender identity, as defined by the Human Rights Campaign, is the “innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves.” Some examples include female, male, nonbinary, and transgender.
Sexual orientation is the “inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.” Examples of sexual orientation are straight, gay, lesbian, and bisexual. Basically, your sexual orientation determines who you go out with and gender identity determines who you go out as.
Former CVCHS student Amaya Blaisdell is a trans male and now goes by the name August. To get a better understanding of what it’s like to be a transgender person, he was asked a few questions.
Being a young, trans male in our society is not easy. “It's challenging,” August said. “Transgender rights are still being challenged. For the entirety of Trump's presidency, I was afraid my health care and access to testosterone would be taken away. Fortunately I live in an area that is very accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. I am lucky to be surrounded by accepting family and friends. I've heard stories of trans people getting beaten in restrooms, which makes me afraid to use public bathrooms. I am still afraid I'll get weird looks or get confronted. Having more gender neutral bathrooms would be comforting. I also get misgendered quite frequently which is annoying. Hopefully soon, people will stop assuming gender based on looks.”
August came out as transgender in his senior year of high school, but only to his close friends. When the prom came around, he chose to wear a suit instead of a dress. Suits are tailored to fit men’s bodies, so finding one to fit a female proved to be hard. “It was very difficult. My body shape is very feminine and curvy. Finding pants and shirts that fit and made me feel masculine was a challenge. Many places don’t accommodate for trans people who have different body shapes. Even though I looked fantastic, the pants still felt a little big and loose around the ankles, which typically isn't the style I prefer. But because I have big hips and thighs, finding pants that are masculine, loose around the thighs and tight around the ankles is pretty much impossible.”
Because August had only come out to his close friends, other people did not expect him to come to prom dressed as a boy when they knew him as a girl. “It was scary at first. I was nervous my classmates would judge me. My friends were very supporting and accepting, but I don't like attention and I was afraid my other classmates or teachers/chaperones would try and say something. When it was time to line up and I wasn't sure if I should go in the female line or the male one, classmates I never talked to urged me to go to the male line which is what I wanted. No one said anything and I even got a few compliments. It was a pleasant surprise.”
As students in the CVCHS community, we need to acknowledge that gender and sexuality issues affect us just like they affect the world around us. People all around the globe struggle with these complications and challenges and we should remember that transgender people are a part of our community.
Interview with August Blaisdell