On March 31st of 2021, we celebrated International Transgender Day of Visibility (#TDoV), honored annually since 2009 to recognize the accomplishments of transgender, non-binary, and gender diverse people and to bring attention to the continued struggles they face across the globe.
#TDoV is not just important to us here at Trujay; it is also personal. I came out as non-binary and transgender in my late twenties. I was terrified, worried that it would negatively impact my family, friends, and career. For years, I separated my work life from my personal life, hopeful that I could medically and socially transition without experiencing too many disruptions to my life. And I was able to.
It’s particularly important today to recognize the privilege of making these changes in my life, especially considering the lack of legislation that protects people within this community from discrimination. Many trans people cannot be visible because being visible might mean losing their job, their family, access to housing, even their life. Being visible also means helping others through their transitions, being an ear for cisgender people seeking to learn more about the trans community, and sometimes being asked intensely personal questions merely out of curiosity. It can be exhausting, painful, and shameful, and it often is.
To understand the issues that trans and gender non-conforming people face every day, I invite you to engage in the following ways:
Transgender education: Learning for yourself
- Begin by learning the terminology surrounding the trans community, like the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity
- Many places online offer tips for how to be a good ally, but this is a good start:
Workplace culture: Inclusion is of top priority
It shouldn’t be the responsibility of the marginalized person to advocate for their needs. In the workplace, make sure that you actively encourage a culture of acceptance and make gender diversity the norm. Here are a few places to start:
- Encourage all employees to add their pronouns to their email signature
- When onboarding new employees, ask if they go by a name other than their birth name, and ask for their pronouns instead of assuming
- Avoid language such as ‘she/he,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen, ‘sir/madam,’ etc. as gender identities exist beyond the binary
But the work doesn’t end here. See, hear, and celebrate the trans people around you. Be vocal (without outing them.) Make sure that they know that you’ve got their back and that you believe they should be allowed to live their life free from discrimination, judgment, and shame. The work is just beginning.
Co-founder, VP of Services