March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV). International TDoV was founded in 2009 by transgender activist Rachel Crandall in response to a lack of recognition days focused on the successes of transgender people, and from the frustration that the only well-known transgender-centered day of recognition was Transgender Day of Remembrance, which mourns the loss of transgender people to violence.1 It is a day of empowerment and celebration for transgender and gender non-conforming people.
A 2017 public survey found that only 30% of Americans reported having a transgender acquaintance, friend or family member.2 This is what makes visibility days like TDoV so important: they help increase acceptance and inclusion. A study by the Williams Institute found that seeing images of transgender and gender non-conforming people can increase support for trans equality.3 This support can later lead to changes in policy and law that not only keeps the transgender community safe, but also encourages them to live openly and authentically.
The stigmas and discriminations transgender people face also affect how fully the community can participate in society, including receiving education, housing, and access to healthcare. When healthcare workers lack knowledge about transgender issues, they may not be able to provide quality treatment and care. This can lead to negative healthcare encounters and limited care access, just one of many prevention challenges that can impact the HIV health outcomes for transgender people.
The CDC reported 2,351 transgender people received an HIV diagnosis in the United States from 2009 to 2014. Among those diagnosed, about 84% were transgender women, 15% were transgender men, and less than 1% had another gender identity. In 2017, the percentage of transgender people who received a new HIV diagnosis was 3 times the national average, based off nearly 3 million HIV testing events reported to the CDC.4
So what can we do to help? Some things are as simple as learning about some trans history and terminology. PFLAG has put together an entire guide on how to be a better trans ally. The little changes one individual makes today can snowball into widespread support for trans rights. Together, we can help the trans community stay safe and participate fully in our society.