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International Transgender Day of Visibility

Lili Elbe, Christine Jorgensen, and Billy Tipton: 3 pioneering historical figures whose names you might not yet be familiar with, but whose legacies live on today as being groundbreaking transgender individuals who contributed to early international visibility of trans people.

International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) offers us an opportunity to reflect – not only on the lives and legacies of those who paved the way and came before, but also on what it means to be transgender in society today. TDOV invites us to educate ourselves and others on issues facing the trans community, and ultimately find pathways to use our voices for change and to celebrate the contributions of trans people in our everyday lives.

What is the International Transgender Day of Visibility? 

International Transgender Day of Visibility (sometimes abbreviated as TDOV or Trans Day of Visibility) is observed yearly on March 31st, and carries the purpose of both celebrating transgender people, as well as highlighting discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide. Not to be confused with Transgender Day of Remembrance, which mourns the murders of transgender people, TDOV acknowledges and celebrates living members of the transgender community by elevating trans voices and profiles.

At Qualtrics, we are devoted to fostering an inclusive and welcoming workplace and we believe in equal opportunity for all – both in and out of the workplace. We work to have an internal representation that matches the world around us, and inclusion that far exceeds it. We use our people, processes, and technology to reduce or eliminate both conscious and unconscious bias from our organization, and we're committed to being a guiding light for our customers to do the same.

What does it mean to be trans?

There is no singular, one-size-fits-all experience uniformly or singularly shared by trans people, nor is there one single definition of what it means to be trans that is applicable to all trans people. While certain elements of one person’s journey may mirror that of another member of the trans community, you can be sure that the trans experience varies broadly depending on a number of factors including life stage, geography, biological makeup, and others. A great way to start your journey as an ally to the trans community is to educate yourself, talk to and learn from trans people, and find resources to help you form a basic understanding of what it means to be trans.

Visibility via trans community symbolism – and allyship

Both the transgender symbol and the transgender flag are important elements of trans community visibility. Being an ally to the trans community involves getting to know these community symbols, what they represent, and displaying them proudly alongside the trans community not just on TDOV, but year round. There are countless ways to show allyship with the trans community – all the way from using your voice to speak out against prejudice, to donating your time to volunteering in the community, or even supporting trans resource groups financially through donations large or small. 

Contemporary trans voices you should know

  • Laverne Cox (she/her): As a trans woman, Cox has won numerous awards for her acting and her activism, and has been outspoken about Supreme Court decisions and legislation around transgender discrimination.
  • Rachel Levine (she/her): Levine is the first openly transgender person to be confirmed to federal office by the US Senate, and serves as an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services under the Biden administration.
  • Elliot Page (he/they): Page came out as transgender in 2020, announcing his pronouns and new name via Twitter. He later appeared on the cover of Time magazine, becoming the first openly transgender man to do so.
  • Chaz Bono (he/him): The only child of Sonny Bono and Cher, Bono has been a longtime advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community. 
  • Mara Keisling (she/her): Keisling is the founder and executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Her appearances on Fox News, CNN and other outlets have helped her become more recognizable as a voice for trans rights.
  • Ryan Cassata (he/him): Cassata is a singer/songwriter and performer well-known for speaking at high schools and universities about gender identity and trangender rights.
  • MJ Rodriguez: (she/her): Known for her activism away from the cameras as well as her artistry on the screen, she became the first transgender woman to earn an Emmy Award nomination in a major acting category; she was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her performance in the third and final season of Pose, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama.

What is top of mind for trans people in 2023?

Trans voices need to be amplified and heard now more than ever. Due to varying factors, however, many trans people are afraid to speak out publicly. Below are some reflections from the trans community at Qualtrics and beyond:

What do people need to know about health equity for trans people?

“Transgender healthcare is suicide prevention. Stop talking as if gender-affirming surgery is on the same level of cosmetic surgery. I have several friends who would not be alive today if they didn’t have access to hormones. That is, they tried everything else (such as antidepressants) and this was the last thing they were going to try.”

What do you wish people understood about trans individuals?

”I don’t expect people to understand things they can’t. I want them to understand that trans people are trying to live their life the best way they can. That’s all. We just want to be who we are.”

How would you feel more seen being trans? 

“A lot of my trans identity is correlated with being nonbinary. For my specific experience, I don’t even know how I want to be perceived. At the core, just human. Because I want to live in a world that can look beyond gender and just see people as human beings.”

Want to get involved? 

There are multiple opportunities to make your voice heard or support the trans community.

One way is to participate in local events honoring TDOV. Some selected local events for 2023 include:

  • Salt Lake City: 5-5:30 pm MT rally at the SLC Capitol building. 5:30 pm march to City Creek park. 5:45-7pm speakers and youth open mic.
  • Seattle: Rally at 4 pm PST in Volunteer Park. There will be trans speakers, activist speakers, and drag performers. From 5-6 pm a march will take place to Cal Anderson park.
  • Chicago: 5pm CT at Grant Park. 
  • More info at this website.

You can also contact the following organizations to learn more about ways you can get involved, support the trans community, and also educate yourself:

National Center for Transgender Equality

Transgender Legal Defence and Education Fund

Black Trans Advocacy

Trans Latina Coalition

Gender Spectrum

A more complete list of resources can be found here.

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Michael Cooksey

Michael is an alumnus of San Francisco State University, and holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Linguistics (ESL Focus). Leading brand communities since 2006, Michael is currently Head of XM Community at Qualtrics, and also has experience running brand social media teams, digital support teams, and content marketing teams for enterprise-level companies around the world. He has worked in this capacity extensively overseas on the ground in both Asia and Europe, with a special expertise in the DACH/German-speaking market. Michael is bilingual and bicultural in English and German, and is conversationally fluent in French and Danish.

In his free time, Michael is a bassoonist, and plays actively in local community orchestras and chamber music workshops around the country.

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