Today we celebrate the International Transgender Day of Visibility. We celebrate the resilience and thrive of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and we raise awareness about their human rights.
This year is the 12th time the world is celebrating the Transgender Day of Visibility. The aim is to celebrate the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming people, to talk about transphobic discrimination and violence and to promote transgender art and culture. The day was founded by US-based transgender activists Rachel Crandall. Her idea was to emphasise the celebration of living members of the transgender community that was missing in the only other well-known transgender awareness day at the time - Transgender Day of Remembrance that mourned the victims of violence and hate crimes, which is also an important thing to do.
In the Western Balkans and Turkey, similar to the rest of the world, transgender and gender non-conforming people face various challenges that forbid them to live free of violence and discrimination and up to their full potential. Based on our surveys, transgender people experienced discrimination significantly more (80%) than the regional average for LGBTI people (40%). The situation is similar with experienced violence (55%) compared to the regional average (33%). The lack of legal gender recognition based on self-determination and lack of access to trans-specific healthcare contribute to the marginalisation of transgender and gender non-conforming people and limit their access to all other rights and services.
The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the situation. Members of the Trans, Non-Binary and Intersex Caucus* of ERA have reported on the challenges transgender and gender non-conforming people face due to the pandemic or measures imposed by the states. Those include living with transphobic families, job loss and increased risk of homelessness, lack of food and hygienic products, increased experienced violence, domestic violence, lack of access to general and trans-specific healthcare and more.
However, the pandemic also brought the community closer together. Transgender led organisations and groups provided support for their community members, from food and hygienic products, through counselling and peer support to online events that reached out to high numbers of transgender and gender non-conforming people from different corners of the region that otherwise would not be able to travel and join. Transgender communities have been brought together and once again lived up to the resilience we have witnessed in the years and decades behind us.
Anyone can join in celebrating the life and visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people every day, not just on 31 March. Respect the pronouns and names of transgender and gender non-conforming people, respect their rights, read a book or watch a movie about trans experiences. When you get the chance, advocate for improving the status of transgender people at your school, workplace or neighbourhood. Learn more about the history of trans resilience and the challenges trans people are facing today. Question yourself and check if you are a part of the problem or the solution. Join us today and every day in celebrating the lives and achievements of transgender and gender non-conforming people from the Western Balkans and Turkey, and around the world.
Happy International Trans Visibility Day 2021!
*TNBI Caucus is a platform that welcomes everyone with trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming and/or intersex identities and experience, no matter the role in the member organisation or the group. All interested in joining the caucus should reach out to Biljana Ginova at [email protected].