LGBTQ+ advocates in Sheffield have been celebrating International Transgender Day of Visibility and speaking out about the discrimination faced by the transgender community.
The day has been observed annually on March 31 since 2009. It was founded by activist Rachel Crandall, in response to what activists say is a lack of recognition of transgender and non-binary people.
The Sheffield PLAN Society, an LGBTQIA+ non-profit organization from the University of Sheffield, is celebrating the day through its social media channels by highlighting important statistics and an upcoming protest.
Laurie Wills, a member of the committee, said the day is very important for the trans community, as although the numbers are growing, the trans community is still quite small, “it can be really isolating.”
Using non-binary pronouns and they/them, Wills highlights the importance of trans youth in particular being able to see the representation of trans figures in society.
They want to raise awareness about issues facing the trans community, such as “being told they’re not normal, hate crimes against trans people are on the rise, and death rates for trans people of color are increasing.”
Wills said they feel uncomfortable when they “walk into spaces where people are trying to figure out if you’re a man or a woman.”
Hate crimes against transgender people have experienced a significant increase, with 4,355 complaints, 56% more than the previous year, according to statistics from the Ministry of the Interior.
Transgender Day of Visibility is celebrated in Sheffield with a march for trans rights starting at Devonshire Green on Saturday 1st April at 12pm
The organizers of the march are Sheffield Radical Pride, “a grassroots queer group”. They said on Twitter that the march was to “reclaim our streets and take the fight to the government.”
Conrad McDonnel, a transgender student at the University of Sheffield, said he had mixed feelings about the day.
“It’s a fun little trick on the surface,” he said. “But as trans visibility has increased in mainstream media over the past 10 years, we have also seen a huge increase in backlash against trans people. So visibility comes as a double-edged sword.
“The day does nothing. It does not mean anything. What trans people need is clear political support instead of being treated like a political tennis ball.
“So either fully support us or not at all. If not, leave trans people alone.”