Transgender people deserve #MoreThanVisibility

Today is the Transgender Day of Visibility (#TDOV), but visibility is not enough. Despite the popularity of shows like Transparent and Orange is the New Black and despite the public transitions of celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner and the Wachowskis, LBGT rights in many places continue to erode. Prejudice and harassment continue. The transgender community needs #MoreThanVisibility.

I am not transgender. I don’t know what it’s like not to be able to use the restroom at work because I am not allowed in the one where I feel safe. I don’t know what it’s like to struggle with filling in the gender field on a form because neither answer seems quite right. I don’t know what it’s like have a body that doesn’t match who I know myself to be.

I don’t know what it’s like to be transgender. I can’t even imagine it. But me not understanding what it feels like doesn’t mean transgender people are lying or just want attention or are going through a phase.

When I first met my friend Meggan I must admit that I felt a bit awkward. Part of that was simply because I am an introvert who always feels awkward when I meet new people, but yes, part of it was because I knew she was was transgender. It was the awkwardness of meeting anyone who seems so different than myself. What could we possibly have to talk about?

Well, it turns out we can talk about our kids. We can talk about clothes and shoes and jewelry. We can talk about writing. We don’t have to have had the same experience with gender identity to have things in common.

Transgender people are people. Like all people, transgender people deserve respect not prejudice.  They deserve love not hate. They deserve #MoreThanVisibility.

I don’t want to be accused of cis-plaining, so I’ll stop now. The best way to understand transgender people is to get to know them. Still, I can’t resist sharing John Oliver’s take on transgender rights because he always explains important topics in entertaining yet brutally honest ways. Enjoy.

Here are a couple of sites where you can learn more about Transgender issues from people who are living them:

Of course, there are many more. Follow #TDOV and #MoreThanVisibility on Twitter and Facebook to learn more.

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You can also find Kim Z. Dale on TwitterFacebook, and Google+ .

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