Local organizations celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility
April 1, 2023 at 5:49 p.m.
As the U.S. continues to put anti-trans legislation on the books, now is as important a time as ever to celebrate trans lives and for allies to step forward, said Christene DeLee, a volunteer for Whatcom County’s chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).
“It’s all I can do to not be terrified every day,” DeLee said. “I can live in the most progressive city in the country, [but] if a federal law passes then it’s going to affect me.”
People across the country celebrated and rallied on Friday, March 31, to mark the International Transgender Day of Visibility. The holiday, which was founded in 2009, aims to bring attention to the discrimination that transgender and nonbinary people face, while also celebrating their triumphs in the face of hatred.
In collaboration with Northwest Youth Services, PFLAG hosted a series of events at WinkWink Boutique to commemorate the day.
From an art market featuring queer and trans vendors, to letter writing to representatives in opposition of anti-trans legislation — the celebration aimed to uplift trans and nonbinary voices, said Schantell Porter, a PFLAG board member.
PFLAG Whatcom is just one chapter of more than 400 nationwide, and is dedicated to supporting and advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and their families. The organization also works to educate the broader community on issues LGBTQ+ people face, and provide resources for those hoping to just learn more.
PFLAG Whatcom also offers monthly meetings open to the public, where anyone is welcome to join.
“We get a lot of parents who come and are just freaking out [after learning] their child is queer in some way, and they’re like, ‘Now what do I do? How do I use proper pronouns? How do I talk to my child?’” said Constance Murphy, PFLAG board member and treasurer. “We let them give voice to their fears and try to support them by talking about our own experiences.”
For DeLee, transgender visibility is about moving toward a world where trans people are seen as people, and not as abnormal.
“I’m not doing this because I want to indoctrinate children, or assault women in bathrooms,” DeLee said. “I’m doing this because I just want to be able to live.”
Postcards addressed to House and Senate committees were available at the event, so attendees could write to and encourage representatives to vote against bills such as HR 734, which would ban transgender women from participating in sports on teams that match their gender identity.
Attendees of Friday’s celebration were also encouraged to take part in a community art project and write words of affirmation on a large canvas that depicted a heart within the pale pinks and blues of the transgender flag.
Phrases such as “You are loved,” and “Thank you for being authentically you” were among the scattering of kind words.
At the end of the night, the piece was auctioned off for $220 to benefit PFLAG Whatcom’s Trans Assistance Fund, meant to help offset the costs associated with being trans and the process of transitioning.
“It gets so expensive just to be who we are,” said DeLee, who received the grant and used the funds to help pay for laser hair removal procedures.
For Murphy and other PFLAG members, events like Friday’s celebration are a way to raise awareness for the issues that trans and nonbinary people face.
“I want people to realize we’re never going away, we’re always going to be here [and] we will always be visible,” Porter said.
To learn more about PFLAG Whatcom, visit their website at pflagwhatcom.org.