Illustrated by Abigail Dannatt

International Transgender Day of Visibility 2023

International Transgender Day of Visibility, also known as ‘Trans Day of Visibility’ or ‘TDOV’, is a day that occurs every…

International Transgender Day of Visibility, also known as ‘Trans Day of Visibility’ or ‘TDOV’, is a day that occurs every year on 31st March. The purpose of the day is to celebrate trans people and their societal contributions, as well as help raise awareness regarding the difficulties and discrimination they face worldwide.

History behind International Transgender Day of Visibility

Rachel Crandall founded this day in 2009, due to the mass frustration felt by trans people that the only commemorative day they had at the time was the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which focused on mourning the murder of trans people. This day of visibility serves to bring celebration and empowerment, and since 2009 has been co-ordinated by Trans Student Educational Resources, a US-based advocacy group.

In 2014, the day was finally observed by activists on mass around the world, and then two years ago in 2021 US president Joe Biden officially declared March 31st as a Transgender Day of Visibility. This made him the first US president to express a formal proclamation recognising the event, stating at the time: “I call upon all Americans to join in the fight for full equality for all transgender people.” He then went even further a year later, inviting a trans-woman Amy Schneider to the White House, where at the time he announced a set of measures intended to support transgender people across America.


Of course, as with most movements of activism, this day has not come without its controversies over the years. In 2015, students at Marshall High School in West Virginia (USA) decorated a bulletin board in celebration of the day, and were thus accused of going against Christian beliefs. Also, in 2022 in Kerala, India on the day, transgender activists held a protest at a bathing establishment in response to actions of misconduct, leading to some altercations with the local law enforcement.

What’s really important about this day

What I feel is most important to take note about this day is how it provides a great opportunity for transgender and non-binary people to be seen through realistic, positive representation, rather than simply as victims. This kind of visibility is crucial, because it also allows trans allies to learn more about them and how they can effectively stand with them in solidarity. Stonewall in particular has many resources dedicated to revealing a diverse range of trans voices from the UK and across the world.

If you go to their site here, you can learn about things such as the most common trans misconceptions, Berlin’s Institute of Sexology being one of the first places to offer transitional surgeries, and the community of Hijras people in South Asia. Something that is very important, and often overlooked with west-originating activism, is the range of gender-diverse identities and origins that exist across the world. It’s all too easy to simply have a Eurocentric perspective when it comes to the diversity of gender, when in reality global colonialism has repressed many gender-diverse communities on every continent. Gender diversity is not, and has never been, unique to only one cultural demographic.

Listen to trans people

With the tendency of mass media to label transgender identities as a trend or mental health issue, it’s important to actually draw attention to the real voices of trans people and take the time to listen to their stories and lived experiences – only then can understanding thrive, and support grow. In that support however, there must also be an action.

Oftentimes, when marginalised communities become more visible – they become at risk of even greater abuse from more people. It’s important to work with campaigns and aid networks, so that changes to bring equality and acceptance of trans people into wider society can actually be put into place.

Whatever your gender orientation, take the time on this important day and the days beyond to listen, learn, and help the transgender community live and thrive in all the ways they deserve.

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