What’s transgender visibility and passing?

Transgender Day of Visibility, or TDoV, which was celebrated on March 31, celebrates the unique lives, journeys, and stories of trans individuals while serving as a painful yet important reminder of the struggles and discrimination transgender individuals continue to face throughout their daily lives. Trans individuals can face backlash from their family, friends, strangers, and even society itself, and TDoV aims to speak out on these issues and empower the transgender community.

Transgender visibility is crucial to expanding society’s understanding and acceptance of the community, and can allow individuals to truly be themselves while feeling safe and secure. TDoV aims to create a safe space for individuals to share their stories without the fear of judgement or prejudice, which is especially valuable in a climate in which tensions and discrimination against trans individuals have mounted.

Recently, hate crimes and other acts of violence against the transgender community have significantly escalated, and celebrating the presence and journey of trans individuals is imperative to reduce these acts of hatred and misunderstanding while giving trans individuals the power to express themselves.

“Passing” is known as when a transgender individual is able to publicly “pass” as cisgender. Often referred to as “passing privilege,” this can reduce the likelihood of acts of violence, verbal abuse, and aggression against a transgender individual.

Some trans individuals use the term “blending” instead, and although many trans individuals work towards blending in order to ease their dysphoria and ensure their safety, others may push against this idea. Often times, passing involves sacrificing one’s gender identity simply in order to blend in, and can be detrimental to an individual’s mental health, particularly if they are constantly misgendered.

The transgender community is a strong, diverse one which is made up of individuals of all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds. Before you assume someone’s gender, ask for their pronouns. If someone looks “visibly trans” to you, don’t point that out. Someone else’s gender expression and identity aren’t your business or responsibility, and it’s important that you simply respect and accept others for who they are.

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