Transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirited people, and their allies gathered at Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Malaspina Theatre this afternoon to celebrate the International Transgender Day of Visibility.
“Trans Day of Visibility was founded in 2009 by Rachel Crandall to offset the sadness and grief that centers Transgender Day of Remembrance,” says trans person and employee of VIU’s IT Department, Natalie Stuart. “It provides a space for positivity, to focus on those still with us, trans success, and trans joy. We’ve done that pretty successfully today.”
A multitude of presenters of different genders shared their experiences, their art, and themselves.
“There’s power in feeling joy about who I am,” says trans nonbinary VIU chemistry student Simon, “and there is power in sharing that with others.”
Simon says that they choose to express themself through their fashion.
“I love how one day I can dress extremely feminine, and other days I can dress extremely masculine. I love waking up in the morning and deciding how I want to present that day. I find it’s so much easier to convince myself to get out of bed when I’m like ‘y’know, I could wear a cape to school today!’” says Simon There are also many other things I consider, like what am I doing that day, who am I going to be interacting with, if it’s safe for me to be dressing androgynously or masculinely with the people I’m being around today… Do I feel comfortable wearing a dress when it means I’m going to be misgendered?”
Transmasc artist Lyndon performed a song regarding his lovelife, specifically his two transgender boyfriends.
Nonbinary artist Ceridwen performed two different songs about their experience.
“Indeed this past year has been twelve months of juxtaposition, from increased representation in politics, to unprecedented success in entertainment, trans visibility is as high as its ever been. With that visibility has come intense, vitriolic, sometimes violent backlash. We need to look no further than our neighbors to the south to see legislation being passed that keeps trans people away from bathrooms, school lesson plans, sports, gender affirming care, and sometimes public life entirely,” says Stuart. “Across the Atlantic, prominent celebrities use their success to influence policies that harm trans people and prevent the care all humans deserve.”
She says this trans-exclusionary movement is gaining traction across the world, which includes Nanaimo. She says that there are some things that allies of their community can do to support them.
“We need you to amplify our voices, to share our truths, we need you to confront those in your lives who would deny us our rights,” says Stuart. “There’s a saying that if you call yourself an ally, yet you are not being hit by the stones being thrown at those you support, you are not standing close enough. We also need you to confront your own biases, your own ideas about who or what we are.”
A gender neutral clothing swap is also being held until 5pm at Building 355, room 211. You’re asked to bring a clothes or a toonie, as all proceeds will go to a gender diverse summer camp for kids 4-11.