On Friday, people around the world came together for the annual Transgender Day of Visibility, a day to celebrate the resilience of transgender and nonbinary people.
Despite heavy rainfall in Chicago, dozens took to Grant Park on Friday to raise awareness of the ongoing discrimination this community still faces. People chanted, “Out of the closet and into the streets.”
For 20-year-old Winter D’arsy, it was an opportunity to stand with her community.
“Especially now, trans people need to really come out and let everyone know we exist and we are normal people like everyone else,” D’arsy said.
At the rally, speakers raised their voices about the ongoing battles thousands of transgender people continue to face around the world. Volunteer Betty Alzamora said as a queer woman, it was important for her to stand in solidarity during this turbulent period.
“We are an island surrounded by other different states with measures in places like Missouri, Iowa and the state of Indiana,” said Alzamora, of the Indivisible Chicago Alliance. “Some good people live there who have right now, have politicians who are making things a lot more difficult for trans.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ rights organization, more than 340 anti- LGBTQ+ legislative bills were introduced this year across the country. That includes 90 bills restricting medical care for trans youth.
“When I found out that I could come out as trans and you can say, ‘I don’t want to be considered a woman.’ I don’t want people to look at me with all this prejudice because of the genitalia I was born with — it is such a relief,” organizer Biff Hartwell said. “Once that opens up, it’s impossible to close that back in.”
Hartwell transitioned from female to male, a journey he said he hopes inspires others to stand in their light.
“There is a lot of organization popping up to erase us and stop us from experiencing ourselves,” Hartwell said, “but on the other hand, it’s inspiring in a way because it means trans people are more visible than ever and this is a reaction in fear to people whose existence makes other people question their ability to express themselves.”
A call for people to show up for love and to reject hate is what Hartwell said he wants people to walk away with.
“People who don’t understand the trans community won’t be able to relate, and suffering and pity do not really affect people to cause them to actually make an action,” Hartwell said. “So we wanted to make this more of a celebration. This is why a holiday like the trans day is so important to host an event like this.”
The event celebrated people like D’arsy, who is able to live in a city she said has made her feel safe.
“I’m from Pennsylvania, and it’s a lot different there,” D’arsy said. “Here I feel a lot more accepted and feel like I have a community. Back where I use to live, there was only one other trans person I knew and here there’s a large community of us.”