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Local events aim to recognize and celebrate trans people on 'Day of Visibility'

The Transgender Pride Flag flies on the Foreign Office building in London on Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, 2017.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Wikimedia Commons
The Transgender Pride Flag flies on the Foreign Office building in London on Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, 2017.

Transgender Day of Remembrance was started more than 20 years ago to commemorate trans people who'd lost their lives to violence. About a decade ago, advocates decided to also commemorate trans people and their achievements on what is now known as Transgender Day Of Visibility.

The main library in downtown Cincinnati is hosting an event for the holiday Thursday. Organizers say it's especially important to celebrate this year while discriminatory laws against transgender people are being passed or considered throughout the country.

Cathy Allison, Board Secretary for the Transgender Advocacy Council and a transgender woman, says the laws are "low-hanging fruit" for conservative politicians trying to drum up votes.

"They can pass all the laws they want, but it's not going to stop people from being trans or gay or bisexual or anything else," she says. "I saw something that said, 'Kids grow up reading books about straight people all the time, and they still grow up gay. But you all think that if little Billy reads one book about a penguin that has two dads, he's gonna want to ask Brad to the prom.' I mean, it's that ridiculous."

Laws targeting trans people includes Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' bill, Kentucky's pending bills to require sport teams to be divided by "biological sex," and a pending Ohio bill which would prohibit gender-affirming care to trans youth.

Cincinnati's downtown main library event will provide resources and community from 4-7 p.m. Thursday.

Community content coordinator Clarity Amrein said the event was partially coordinated from the library's LGBTQ working group, which also runs a resource page at Cincinnatilibrary.org/lgbtq.

The event will have booths from 14 organizations offering a range of information, from medical services to resources for obtaining clothing for transitioning people. There will also be an opportunity for trans people to document their experiences in a recording booth.

Amrein says it's important for trans people to share their experiences because mainstream history is inequitable and many are left out of recorded history.

Library customer advisor, cloud, is a transmasculine person who resists using his colonized name on the journey to reclaim his identity. He said, "While it's important to honor our elders and hear their stories — because there's so much wisdom in the lives that they've led — there is an energy that's just buzzing in the youth, in the queer youth. They're so unapologetically queer, and they're outspoken in what they want to see for their future. I think it's really important to highlight that joy that they're experiencing in their in their queerness."

He said challenging challenging patriarchal notions of gender, masculinity, and femininity also challenges the status quo. So when he hears about anti-trans laws, he sees it as officials working to put out the fire young trans people have when they demand equality.

Allison says that fire is important to the well being of trans youth.

"For all these laws that they pass, the 'Don't Say Gay' laws, the 'you can't play sports' laws, you can be discriminated against every time you try to go to get medical care…All these things increase the chance of younger trans people committing suicide," she said.

According to the National Library of Medicine, 82% of transgender people have considered killing themselves and 40% have attempted suicide. The rates are especially high among transgender youth. The Human Rights Campaign says at least 57 Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming people were killed due to acts of violence in 2021.

Transgender Day of Visibility is also getting recognition from Cincinnati officials this year. Mayor Aftab Pureval, city council members, and trans advocates are raising the transgender pride flag in recognition of the holiday. It's happening at 10 a.m. Thursday on the City Hall Plaza and features several speakers, including Allison.

For more information about Thursday's library event, visit the Facebook event online.

Jolene Almendarez is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who came to San Antonio in the 1960s. She was raised in a military family and has always called the city home. She studied journalism at San Antonio College and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Communications from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She's been a reporter in San Antonio and Castroville, Texas, and in Syracuse and Ithaca, New York.