Today, the King County Council’s Equity & Social Justice office celebrates International Transgender Day of Visibility. This annual recognition occurs every year on March 31 and is a time for us to celebrate our trans, non-binary, gender diverse, and gender non-conforming family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors! We celebrate the love, beauty, richness, and spirit that the trans community continues to embody and exude. We want to highlight their individuality, in that their experiences are not one and the same. The trans community comes with all identities—they are Black, Brown, Indigenous, disabled, non-disabled, all ages from Littles to Elders, and so much more.
“It is revolutionary for any trans person to choose to be seen and visible in a world that tells us we should not exist” ~ Laverne Cox
What does it mean to identify as transgender?
“Trans” at its root means to change, think transform or translate. A person who identifies as transgender (gender identity) is identifying differently than their biological sex assigned at birth.
How can you be a great ally?
Respectfully address and engage with an individual according to their gender identity. This can include names, pronouns, use of prefixes, and access to facilities such as restroom.Tips:
- When introducing yourself, include your own pronouns
- If unsure of their pronouns, use the individuals name or use they/them/theirs
- Be an active bystander: if you see or hear something trans/homo phobic, step in
- Do not describe someone as “transgendered”
- Reflect the language they use to describe themselves
- Know that gender-affirming surgery is not required to identify as trans, non-binary, or gender diverse
These lived experiences do not come without struggle and marginalization. Our trans family and friends continue to face violence and discrimination, often in the form of legislation that would or does further marginalize and exclude the community.
The American Civil Liberties Union is tracking more than 400 anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures in 2023, including many aimed specifically at transgender and gender non-conforming individuals spread across 44 states. Anti-trans legislation takes many forms, but the most common proposals include: including: limiting access to gender-affirming healthcare, restricting access to school sports by sex assigned at birth, limiting access to public facilities such as restrooms and locker rooms, and more.
While many of these bills will ultimately fail, even their introduction causes harm and encourages discrimination.
However, here in Washington, some legislation to protect trans rights has made headway in the state Legislature this year. One proposal that passed the state House would aim to ensure access to gender-affirming care by blocking courts and law enforcement in the Washington from aiding other states’ investigations into patients who travel here for gender-affirming care.
And another measure would protect doctors in Washington from disciplinary actions if they provide gender-affirming care in violation of other states’ laws. The state Legislature passed a law two years ago requiring insurers to cover gender-affirming care when prescribed by a doctor or deemed medically necessary.
On this Transgender Day of Visibility, we urge you to celebrate and see the trans community in its wholeness but to also stand up and protect trans rights and lives. Educate yourself on trans history, terminology, and experiences. Stay informed on trans issues. Donate and support trans-led or trans supporting groups and organizations. Continue to be an ally in the fight for trans rights.
King County Based Resources:
- Lavender Rights Project is a Seattle based organization that elevates the power, autonomy, and leadership of the Black intersex & gender diverse community through intersectional legal and social services.
- United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance (UTOPIA) is a queer and trans people of color-led, grassroots organization born out of the struggles, challenges, strength, and resilience of the Queer and Trans Pacific Islander (QTPI – “Q-T-pie”) community in South King County.
- THREE DOLLAR BILL CINEMA fosters deeper community engagement by showcasing queer film programming, educational experiences, and social dialogue.
- The Trans Lifeline 877.565.8860
- Trevor Project 866.488.7386 or Text START 678678
- SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline 877.360.5428
- GLAAD: https://www.glaad.org/transgender/resources
- TSER: https://transstudent.org/
- National Center for Transgender Equality: https://transequality.org/
Feel free to reach out the KCC Equity & Social Justice team at KCCESJ@kingcounty.gov.