Posted on March 30 2019
The value of visibility is something that is generally taken for granted. Your average person has no problem finding some kind of peer role model to aspire to or to inspire them, in fact it is so ubiquitous that it's barely even considered. For members of the community whom find themselves outside of the typical however, it can become a challenge. If you are not of the majority, you can find it difficult to fulfill your need of a peer identity and here is where visibility become so crucial.
It has most often been the case in history that transgender identity has been obscured. Mostly people wish simply to go through the process of transition and then proceed to live an otherwise normal life. These terms have been observed because in the past discrimination was an accepted practice in the conformity of regular folks. Depending on your perspective, it's been know as stealth or woodworking and it has historically left us with a very limited numbers of community peers, most often those who were visible were people considered to be out there compared to the average person.
As a younger person I found nobody through the seventies, eighties or nineties that even gave me a hint of who I was or could be. It wasn't part of common culture and transgender people were all but non existent in everyday life. The truth is that the hidden reality left a gaping hole for those of us with gender dysphoria, and there were no metrics to visibly measure ourselves against and it meant denial of the reality we felt. It is traumatic to think that you are alone in your experiences and it creates a fertile field for the seeds of depression and anxiety to germinate.
As the internet took center stage in everyday life in the two thousands, that slowly started to change. Initially and even today, if you type "transgender", likely you're going to be swamped with porn links as we are still in the process of breaking through this fetishism. Breaking down the stereotypes is also part of the value in visibility. In that period of the 2000s finally it was possible to begin to join the dots and begin to see there were real ordinary transgender people. Still we were not open in the real world but we were building a momentum.
By the late 2000s, I had finally come to terms with my own dysphoria and began engaging with the now burgeoning online community. As it happens the birth of the International Transgender Day of Visibility came shortly after my own self awareness. It was not immediately recognized as important by the community as there was still a strong feeling of oppression fed by the narrative of associated LGBTIQ organizations. The strong historic links to sex work and the sex worker organizations strong support for the transgender day of remembrance helped continue, in some, feelings of hopelessness.
As we came into teens, many of us could see the strongest need for the community to lay in a positive narrative. Fortunately we began to see high profile people transition and transgender people finding a voice in popular culture. Slowly the foresight of the creators of the day of visibility is being accepted and it grows stronger every year. This is an opportunity for the transgender community to break the shackles of past oppression and demonstrate a positive narrative.
It is the chance to show people coming to terms with gender dysphoria they are not alone. It is a chance to show just how boring and normal we can be, how successful life is when you are able to be truly yourself. It is the chance to tell the world we are here, we are your equal and we will not be going away. It is the chance to empower people, to validate and value their experience. Visibility gives to everyone opportunity for understanding and love, visibility brings power and will finally see our needs fulfilled.
Visibility is equality!
Written by Kristyana French
I am a transgender advocate , President of the Gender Diversity Alliance SA and former writer for Blaze magazine Adelaide GNN. Currently writing a personal analysis of my psychological life story. I am also a former owner and manager of Venue 63 and inclusive entertainment venue.
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