Trans Day of Visibility is 365 days a year

It’s one of those calendar day moments: A day specifically to remind all that trans people are valid, trans rights are human rights, and though modern history may have mistreated us, you don’t have to.

Oh, hello. I’m pouncing on my trans community prerogative and standing on a soapbox by the water cooler with a megaphone for a minute or several… or technically 365 days a year, depending on how you look at it.

It’s Trans Day of Visibility. A day to celebrate trans people, conceived as a heartening, positive and celebratory commemorative flipside to Trans Day of Remembrance.

And yet, one day for each ain’t hardly enough, because like I said when I was presenting at the Automattic Townhall this year:

Queer communities have historically suffered many injustices, but most of all an injustice of cultivated ignorance; one that you can overcome here simply by reaching out, learning more, and getting involved in our community.

It’s been a hard year to be visible and trans in this most lockdownish and isolated of times, and while there’s been a lot of heartening scope in safe home time for a lot of people to have obliterated some closets, it’s been a super hard time for a lot of trans people to survive through isolation, prejudice and gatekeeping, and a growing number of less than savoury groups have taken their pandemic opportunity to try to demonise trans folks, stealing a lot of the media spotlight and filling our days and sapping our energy while actual trans voices have been heard far less. Suffice to say trans visibility has been in short supply pretty much all year. And yet, as Laura said yesterday:

So here I am to remind everyone that trans people as a whole are perpetually besieged into demi-crisis, yet here we are tanking all of it, and honestly? It’s oof, but it forges great determination, and with that determination I urge you not to look away when you see harm to the trans community, and to do what you can to help ease the harm and celebrate the good things. There’s no one solution, but incremental change has done wonderful things for our community already, and you can help drive that too.

Ways to help and get involved

  • Read trans blogs; you’re in one but I’m far from alone here
  • Follow trans tumblrs; It’s where I first “found” myself
  • Buy works by trans artists
  • Listen to trans musicians
  • Play videogames by trans creators; better yet, an ur-example about being trans
  • Patronise or otherwise assist trans charities in your area
  • Look out for trans charity fundraisers on streaming platforms
  • Be a skeptic for organised seeded skepticism: when you see trans related articles, ask yourself if the outlet or author is queer or trans, and what agenda it may represent
  • Learn about trans rights in your area and where lacking, write your local lawmakers
  • Learn about TERFs 😦 …and not from terfs, either
  • Remember this is 24/7/365 for us and whatever you do, however incremental, to help and connect: don’t stop!

Trans Rights are Human Rights.

This post was lightly forked from an internal post at Automattic.

We’re open source like that – and safespace enough for an outspoken activist and self-taught WP dev like me to be doing work like this alongside my engineering work.

That’s a hint, queer & trans devs.

– Tal

Trans day of remembrance always hits hard.

I find myself each time surrounded by reminders that too many trans lives are cut short; thinking about what makes a trans life.

A trans life in this point in history is often a simple pursuit of a normal life as one’s self. A trans journey can be transformative and beautiful, but trans lives are fragile too, and all too often shaken or shattered by this world’s unreadiness to let trans people lead the lives we deserve.

My trans life is one of empathy and anxiety; ever heartened by my community’s beautiful moments, yet often reminded that many of these moments are compromises, moments of relief from a near-perpetual struggle to not have to live the distresses and disappointments of simply participating in society while trans. The closest trans lives to me have each in their different ways been wounded by transphobia, and in this, of all weeks, trans awareness and trans remembrance bring the memories of old trans wounds, borne of systemic oppression, gatekeeping, and a lack of empathy for people who are so, so very tired of striving simply for permission to exist.

Even now, with so much more trans understanding, spokespersons and representation in media, trans people in many parts of the world can’t even take our transitions into our own hands, with layers upon layers of toil and angst between us and a simple lifesaving daily handful of pills.

Too much of the medical profession doesn’t know enough about us: partly because the burning of years of knowledge by literal fascists a near-century ago forced a fresh start upon trans research, and partly because a variety of insidious pro-life groups and foundations quietly funnel money into the production of transphobic propaganda, intentionally fuelling public debate over our right to live our lives.

As a result, In the UK, feelings of looking forward to post-pandemic life have even been marred by public debate in the media about which public toilets and dressing rooms trans people should use, such is the readiness of many under the weight of misinformation to misunderstand us altogether, hyperfixating on socially assigning gender roles according to the shape of strangers’ genitals.

Yet still, despite all this, I’m absurdly fortunate as a trans person to be a white trans woman in the west. My UK worries about trans lives, representation, activism, the people in my life shaken by the gatekeeping of my country’s gender services, my traumatised housemate who nearly died from their medical neglect, even absurd minutiae like what kind of practical dress goes best with cycling days out, yet is also good for inconspicuously pissing in the tall grass… valid as they are, they don’t compare at all to the injustices, oppression and murder done to trans people in other parts of the world, and throughout history.

Trans people are nothing new. Gender and its expressions have been changing throughout cultures, and trans people have existed throughout history with notable examples in the many ancient pantheons, including deities. There’s nothing new to consider, no trans question – we’ve been here all along, and the only terrible things that happened because of it happened to us.

Whenever queer and trans lives are visible, defying the traditional family structure, creating our own found families, there’s also very visible signs of labour exploiting structures, societies, religions and rulers oppressing and destroying trans and queer lives. That’s your cue; that’s your alarm. Take it from a frequently endangered species; We’re the canaries in the coalmine of your rights and consent, and we’re telling you, this is your danger signal.

And so I’m remembering trans lives lost this year, and trans lives filled with trauma, and everything that trans people have to do to simply… be. If you ever thought this year was scary, oppressive, isolating, challenging to get through and potentially fatal to be around people… you’ve been living a lot of the worst parts of the trans experience.

Yet I’m remembering the powerful joy of my community, how our bonds through the pandemic have been strong, how well accustomed we immediately became to 2020, having lived our own version of it for most of our lives, creating found families, love, laughter, understanding and sometimes rainbows out of the unforgiving raw material of compromise.

So for today, let’s remember and reach out to trans lives, and I hope you’ll help us work towards a day where we can live those trans lives without trans compromise.

Consider the trans lives we lost this year. Help us make this world the one they deserved.


Wrath month never ends

This was written a year ago, at the end of pride 2019, before parades made room for demonstrations, before the world changed, giving everyone a taste of the isolation and desperation of the colder side of the trans experience, before the streets filled with our allies and kindred spirits in unity in oppression.

Since last year, this post has only become more relevant as the world shapeshifts around us, so I’m starting this new blog with it; as a reminder to myself of who I once was, and a reminder to keep that wrath ready in hand for years of strangeness to come.

Wrath month, like any powerful state of mind, is never over.

A world growing more hostile to gender adventurers like myself often feels like it’s closing in around us, threatening our existence and our survival while dismissing our identities out of hand and observing us only through distorted thinkpieces by self-appointed experts who don’t see what a lot of the determined strugglers in our community go through.

The realisation, the closet, the awakening, the emergence, the adjustment, the prejudice, the discrimination. The expectance from a cisheteronormative world that we should have our shit together as much as any of them despite our having lived half a life of not quite existing as ourselves, right alongside the rejection by a large part of that world that can be felt and noticed for years as it trickles down through our lives.

We have a lot to be wrathful about, and it’s okay to hold onto that wrath if it gives you the strength you need to survive whatever becomes the next challenge in your precious, blessed, heroic queer life.

For every little thing that brings the wrath: use that wrath. Direct it against what would otherwise try force us into passive, accepting silence. Channel that which burns you into ways to change what’s wrong with the world around you. Take up space like it belongs to you. Assert your pronouns with vigour. Don’t mould yourself to the expectations of others; mould their ways around respecting and protecting whoever you want to be.

Be the reminder that trans and queer rights are far behind, worldwide. Let the people in your life know about the adversity that our identity choice brings. Shame that cis friend buying from that transphobic company. Be the reason the people in your life join your causes. Share those petitions for our lives and our rights and the news stories of our hardships on your social media in their faces. Engage with them. Challenge them. Don’t let them obey their human urge to turn their eyes away from pain and that which would destroy us; that which desires a world of Them and Us, at odds, not learning from each other.

People who aren’t part of our struggle don’t see the strands of prejudice, queerphobia and adversity trickling down thru grooves and cracks into our lives unless we point them out. They don’t enjoy it either, though; nobody likes even a tiny little bit of complicity, however slight, in oppression. But by opening up avenues to understanding us better, including the uncomfortable truths, allyship is made and forged strong.

Any real ally who deserves a place in your life is always going to reconsider and instead think about you and about us whenever they find themselves about to do or say something that once got them a serving, however sweet and tender, of your meaningful, powerful, righteous queer wrath.

And that’s powerful.

Happy Wrath month, for wrath month never ends. Use your powers well, siblings, and always do your best to smite with love and care.