I’m sharing this imperative here as I have on Facebook and as it has been on the TAGR website. Visibility is just as important to Paganism and other minority groups, in my opinion.
(The image is the symbol of Trans Alliance of Greater Rochester, a trans symbol interlaced with the fivefold flower of Rochester, NY).
Unless we’re visible people won’t know that we exist. Unless people see us as their family, their neighbors, their coworkers (and bosses, and employees) they won’t be seeing us as human. Overwhelm them with our presence so that they can’t ignore us, can’t forget about us, and can’t shame us for our numbers and our pride.
I’ve seen people be terrified of being found out all their lives, spend a couple of years transitioning, and then disappear again, terrified for the rest of their lives. I want to work towards creating a world where that fear isn’t there anymore, where it doesn’t matter anymore. The main catalyst for this change will be visibility.
We have to be visible. For those of us who can’t pass because of physical features. For those of us who are non-binary, whose identities won’t let them fit safely into one or another of the socially acceptable gender boxes. For those of us still living in fear, post- pre- or non-transitioning.
Yes, there are situations where it is not safe to be visible; where people have to hide because the fear is justified. For any of us in a position where being visible is merely a discomfort I encourage, and challenge you, to visibility. Until people know that we’re people too, until they see our human faces in their spaces, we will be othered and made into outsiders.
For allies, I challenge you to be visible too. Speak out against transphobic behavior or speech that you see. Stand up for trans friends. Share memes. Do whatever you can to let people know that folks that aren’t trans still support us. That means a lot a well.
For myself, I’m going to try and be as visible as possible today. I will not tone down or androgynize my appearance when going out. I won’t just shrug and deal when a stranger uses the wrong form of address or pronouns. I won’t be afraid to tell people what I think or how I feel concerning being transgender in modern America (which is about a billion times better than being trans most other places in the world).
Visibility is the catalyst to this change. It is the medicine that will help to wipe the fear away and expose the mindless hatred for what it is. Education will fill in the gaps. Don’t back down, don’t give in to the fear, because if we’re fighting, that fear is what we’re fighting, not the people who experience it.