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A person holds a transgender pride flag as people gather on Christopher Street outside the Stonewall Inn for a rally to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York, June 28, 2019. (Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility. (Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images) 

'You Are Beautiful. You Are Loved': Allies Show Solidarity on Transgender Day of Visibility

"It is time for the long history of assaults—legislative, physical, social, and verbal—against trans women and girls to end."

Brett Wilkins

Democratic elected officials, LGBTQ leaders and allies, and human rights defenders of many stripes on Wednesday expressed their support for trans people on International Transgender Day of Visibility, acts of solidarity that stood in stark contrast with Republican-led legislation and other efforts to deny rights, privileges, and even the humanity of more than 1.5 million Americans. 

"The crisis of violence against transgender women, especially transgender women of color, is a stain on our nation's conscience."
—President Joe Biden

In a complete reversal from the anti-trans policies of the Trump administration, President Joe Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation to "honor and celebrate the achievements and resiliency of transgender individuals and communities" on Transgender Day of Visibility.

"Their trailblazing work has given countless transgender individuals the bravery to live openly and authentically," the proclamation states. "This hard-fought progress is also shaping an increasingly accepting world in which peers at school, teammates and coaches on the playing field, colleagues at work, and allies in every corner of society are standing in support and solidarity with the transgender community."

"In spite of our progress in advancing civil rights for LGBTQ+ Americans, too many transgender people—adults and youth alike—still face systemic barriers to freedom and equality," it continues. "Transgender Americans of all ages face high rates of violence, harassment, and discrimination. Nearly one in three transgender Americans have experienced homelessness at some point in life. Transgender Americans continue to face discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare, and public accommodations."

"The crisis of violence against transgender women, especially transgender women of color, is a stain on our nation's conscience," asserts the proclamation. "The Biden-Harris administration is committed to fulfilling the promise of America for all Americans by stamping out discrimination and delivering freedom and equality for all."

Noting that he signed an executive order aimed at preventing discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation on his first day in office, Biden then urges passage of the Equality Act—approved by the House of Representatives last month—"to more fully protect the civil rights of transgender Americans." 

Numerous Democratic lawmakers marked the day with messages of solidarity—and with action.

 Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation that would ban use of the so-called "gay panic" and "trans panic" defenses in federal court. Markey said such dubious legal strategies "only encourage systemic bigotry, corrode the legitimacy of federal prosecutions, and blame victims for the violence committed against them."

Democratic Reps. Jennifer Wexton (Va.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), and Marie Newman (Ill.)—leaders of the Transgender Equality Task Force—led a resolution "supporting the ideals and goals" of Transgender Day of Visibility. 

"As the proud parent of a transgender child, I am honoring this Transgender Day of Visibility by committing to taking on the urgent legislative work necessary to finally guarantee that every transgender person can live freely as themselves and free from discrimination," Jayapal said in a statement announcing the resolution. "This is a pivotal moment in our fight for equality, and I stand with my child and every LGBTQ+ person in America as we defeat hate, end discrimination, and secure full civil rights across this country."

Hundreds of feminist leaders signed an open letter authored by Black trans activist Raquel Willis and the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD in observance of Women's History Month and Transgender Day of Visibility. 

"We acknowledge with clarity and strength that transgender women are women and that transgender girls are girls," states the letter, whose prominent signers include Gloria Steinem, Laverne Cox, Selena Gomez, and Halle Berry. "All of us deserve the same access, freedoms, and opportunities. We deserve equal access to education, employment, healthcare, housing, recreation, and public accommodations. And we must respect each person's right to bodily autonomy and self-determination."

The letter continues:

It is time for the long history of assaults—legislative, physical, social, and verbal—against trans women and girls to end. For far too long, lawmakers have worked to strip trans women of their civil liberties—in 2021, once again, we've seen a wave of bigoted governmental policies and legislation. Many of these laws target the rights of girls to play school sports or criminalize doctors for treating trans youth and their families...

These bigoted efforts are also aided by a contingent of self-identified feminists, who have been promoting damaging and violent ideas about trans people for years in the United States and internationally. Their vitriol is, in fact, not feminist at all. True feminists do not wish to limit any woman's identity or freedom to fully be herself. Allowing transphobic rhetoric to go unchecked also strengthens the legislative efforts of anti-trans politicians—who now cloak their bigotry in language about protecting or supporting women.

Further, all verbal attacks support the ongoing epidemic of murder and violence plaguing Black and Latinx trans women—2020 was the deadliest year on record for the transgender community, seeing more than 44 killings, and, so far, there have been at least nine deaths reported this year.

"We all must fight against the unnecessary and unethical barriers placed on trans women and girls by lawmakers and those who co-opt the feminist label in the name of division and hatred," the letter concludes. 

Other prominent figures, from governors to mayors to former NBA superstar Dwayne Wade—whose daughter is trans—also expressed their support for transgender equality.

Wednesday's outpouring of trans solidarity occurred against a backdrop of a wave of GOP-led anti-transgender legislation across the nation. More than 50 bills in 28 states attempting to prohibit trans youth from participating on teams reflecting their gender identity have been passed or introduced this year.  

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