Today, March 31, is not only Easter for those of faith but also Transgender Day of Visibility. Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we remember those we have lost to violence, Transgender Day of Visibility is a day of positive reflection for the trans* community.
Though the primary focus this past week has been on the Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8, there is legislation moving forward in Arizona -- S.B. 1045, the so-called "Bathroom Bill" -- that would allow business owners to deny transgender individuals access to bathrooms that match the gender with which they identify. The bill would affect anyone trans* who is living in, traveling to or passing through Arizona. It would also affect masculine-appearing women, feminine-appearing men and anyone who is gender-nonconforming, whose bathroom access would be at the discretion of business owners.
Arizona State Rep. John Kavanagh, the Republican lawmaker behind the bill, is apparently concerned that trans* people using bathrooms that match their gender identity will upset non-transgender people. He seems to feel that people outside his idea of societal normalcy should be kept out of bathrooms, locker rooms and showers. But what is normal? Even as I look around the LGBTQ community, I do not see the stereotypical feminine gay men I was told about as a child. I do not see the overdressed trans women I was warned about when I came out as trans. All I see are people. In the past, flying a rainbow flag outside one's home was considered "brave," but now they fly everywhere.
Nevertheless, many trans* people prefer to remain in the shadows. The pervasive discrimination and hate toward trans* people is well-documented, and S.B. 1045 will not not do anything to help trans* people feel more welcomed in society. But just as gays and lesbians have put invisibility behind them, the trans* community must become part of the fabric of society, and only widespread visibility can accomplish that. Rather than being associated with woeful news stories about being improperly gendered, we need to become simply people.
Even facing hate like S.B. 1045, we must continue to move forward. While trans* activists and our allies fight that bill, for those trans* people who are comfortable enough and safe enough to do so, the time to come out of the shadows and present ourselves as who we are is now. If you are trans*, make a point to get out in public on Sunday, perhaps at a dinner or shopping with friends. You don't have to carry a sign; simply be who you are. On Transgender Day of Visibility, walk out of the shadows and into sunlight. One day we will have to hide no more.