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Advocates Say Transgender Day Of Visibility Is One For Celebration And Education

A photo of mini trans pride flags.
Ted Eytan
Transgender Day of Visibility started in 2009 as a “positive” holiday for the community.

Wednesday marked Transgender Day of Visibility and it came at a time when trans youth are being targeted by controversial legislation across the country.

Legislation has ranged frombarring trans youth from sports to preventing them from some healthcare services. Two such bills were introduced in the Utah Legislature earlier this year and ultimately failed.

Sue Robbins is on the Transgender Advisory Council for Equality Utah. She said this kind of legislation has turned transgender people into a “wedge issue.”

“When we start to use hateful language like the way it's used around transgender girls participating in sports, it starts to draw a picture of the transgender community that is incorrect,” Robbins said. “We've got to get away from that to properly recognize this community.”

The day of visibility started in 2009 to be a “positive” holiday, according to Robbins. That’s because there’s a more somber day in the fall to honor trans homicide victims. She said even though the holiday is about visibility, nobody should feel pressured to come out unless they’re comfortable.

“I don't encourage anyone to be visible who isn't wanting to be,” Robbins said.

Nick Arteaga is a community programs coordinator with the Utah Pride Center. To them the day is about celebration, education and helping marginalized people thrive.

When it comes to legislation against trans people, Arteaga said even though it can be “ugly and harmful,” it helps increase visibility and recognition of trans people.

“People don't need to like us because we're transgender, but we just need people to not feel entitled to rob us of basic human rights,” they said. “You don't have to like us, just stop making it harder for us to survive in a world that already rejects us.”

Arteaga said it may sound simple, but one way to support trans people is just take the time to listen to them.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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