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Trans Visibility Day gets early celebration at State Capitol

A crowd of people form a circle in front of the Minnesota State Capitol. Some hold signs saying you "You belong here."
Trans activists and allies rallied at the Minnesota State Capitol in advance of the International Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrated every March 31. (CBJ Photo by Jasmine McBride)

About 100 people gathered at the Capitol in Saint Paul on Wednesday in support of trans rights. Community members shared their stories of coming out as trans; a courageous move that in many places could cost them their lives. 

“I moved here to Minnesota in 2016 because I saw this as a state that would support me as who I am,” said community leader Dianne E. Anderson. “I grew up across the border in South Dakota as an evangelical Christian… I grew up in a world where existing as a person outside the cisgender, heterosexual norm made me sinful. I was taught that being who I am is a sin. Calling out that objectification is just as important as being out invisible and proud. Sin is when we treat people like things, including ourselves.”

Fear around visibility is not uncommon, as trans people are killed at disproportionate rates. Particularly trans people of color. 

The LGBTQ+ supporting civil rights organization, The Human Rights Campaign, conducted a report surrounding the harm of trangender people within a one year span. From November 2022 to November 2023, 33 deaths of trans people were recorded. And 90.9% of those victims were of color. To make matters worse, The Human Rights campaign has been conducting data since 2013. And since then, have recorded 335 transgender deaths. And 286 of them were of color. 

But, Maia Pruim, who identifies as a Black and Latina trans woman, says it is the enduring resilience of the trans community that keeps her fighting.

“When we remember our history, we remember all of our community members who fight for us, now, every day, and put forward our legacy,” said Pruim. “Today I'm thinking about our young people who are feeling a lot of fear and a lot of uncertainty right now. And who may not always be able to see the community that is here wrapped around them.”

Pruim cited Black trans icon Marsha P. Johnson, one of the most prominent figures of the gay rights movement of the 1960s in New York City, including the Stonewall uprising. Pruim also lifted up Johnson’s sister in revolution, Sylvia Rivera. 

“We remember the Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally back in 1973–when [Rivera] fought her way all the way to the stage amidst boos and cheers from the gay community that at the time did not yet stand together with us,” said Pruim. “We remember when she said to the crowd, ‘y'all better quiet down.’ She told us that she believed in the revolution of what she called gay liberation.”  

The local event was organized by OutFront MN, a non-profit committed to building power within the local LGBTQ+ community. It began with testimony outside the Capitol, despite the chilly afternoon. But since Minnesota’s first openly transgender Representative Leigh Feinke has stepped into office, a lot of internal work has been done to acknowledge the voices of trans people in policy. The event continued inside the Capitol where trans activists gave further testimony alongside State political leaders. 

Rep. Liish Kozlowski, who is on their first term as a Minnesota State House of Representative, identifies as they/them.

“We know that we're everywhere and we ain't going nowhere. The only thing that's news is that this is the revolution, this is the rebellion. This is a resurgence and this is the reclamation that it is a beautiful thing to be trans,” said Kozlowski.

International Transgender Day of Visibility, created by Michigan activist Rachel Crandell, has been an annual occurrence since 2009. Each year on March 31, communities come together to affirm and celebrate their identity. 

“Together, let's envision a world where every transgender person can live openly, authentically and without fear of discrimination or violence. Let us work tirelessly until that vision becomes a reality. And let us never forget that our solidarity and support can make all the difference in the lives of transgender individuals everywhere,” said community leader Andi Otto.

In Minnesota, changes in support of the transgender community are being made more rapidly than in most states in the US. The Twin Cities has seen an increase in the presence of gender neutral bathrooms in businesses and schools. Pronoun sensitivity has grown across the social landscape. Trans men and women, as well those who are gender non-conforming, will find more non-discriminatory support in Minnesota schools and workplaces, thanks to recent legislation. 

On this 15th International Transgender Day of Visibility, Otto says visibility is just the beginning.

“Visibility is a powerful tool for trans people. Standing up and speaking out, transgender individuals are challenging stereotypes, breaking down barriers, and paving the way for a more inclusive society. But visibility alone is not enough. We must take action to dismantle the systematic injustice that perpetuates discrimination and oppression. Let us create a space where transgender people feel safe, valued and respected, and let us amplify their voices and uplift their stories so that their struggles and triumphs are no longer ignored or erased. Today we celebrate resilience, courage and strength of transgender individuals everywhere.”


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