Wednesday is International Transgender Day of Visibility.
The event is dedicated to celebrating the contributions of trans people and raising awareness of the discrimination they face worldwide. It was founded by Michigan resident Rachel Crandall Crocker in 2009.
WKAR’s Michelle Jokisch Polo spoke with her about the day and why she started it.
On What Inspired The Event
Up until I did, there was only really one day on the transgender calendar, and that is called the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It's a very, very important day. It's when we remember our transgender sisters and brothers who were killed just for being trans. However, I wanted a day that we could celebrate the living. Where we could come all together, and be happy that we're alive, and that we are trans.
Michelle Jokisch Polo: Rachel, can you speak on what Transgender Day of Visibility is all about?
Rachel Crandall Crocker: The International Transgender Day of Visibility is all about having a day where transgender people can be proud of who they are, and where they can show that they're trans and happy, at the same time. It's a day for people all around the world to come all together.
Jokisch Polo: What inspired you to create this annual celebration?
Crandall Crocker: Up until I did, there was only really one day on the transgender calendar, and that is called the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It's a very, very important day. It's when we remember our transgender sisters and brothers who were killed just for being trans. However, I wanted a day that we could celebrate the living. Where we could come all together, and be happy that we're alive, and that we are trans. I always got real depressed on the day of remembrance. And I really wanted a day I could be happy about who and what I am. So that's really why I created it.
Jokisch Polo: Can you share some of the ways the pandemic has illuminated the deep inequities trans people face in accessing health care?
Crandall Crocker: Transgender people, a lot of us are afraid to go to a doctor. We're afraid that we're not going to be accepted or that we're gonna be humiliated. And during the pandemic, beside being afraid that we're not going to be accepted, a lot of us are afraid that we're gonna get COVID. So, healthcare has been really hard in my community, especially over the last year.
Jokisch Polo: Currently, 29 state legislatures across the country, including [the] one here in Michigan, are debating bills that would ban transgender students from joining the sports team that matches their gender identity. What are some of the long lasting impacts these bills could have?
Crandall Crocker: It's really discrimination. It's discrimination against people just because of who they are inside. And it tells trans people that they're not okay. And that they are not accepted by society. Honestly, I think it could mean a number of people who would take their own life. We all want to be accepted. And that is a real way of telling people that they're not fit for society.
Jokisch Polo: Rachel Crandall Crocker is the founder of the International Transgender Day of Visibility. Thank you for joining me.
Crandall Crocker: Thank you.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.