Organizers for two transgender-themed events are working together to give the trans community a “visible” ending to their March and an “empowering” way to begin April. They are looking for transpeople and allies to come to a planning meeting Feb. 8 to share ideas and get involved.
Transgender Day of Visibility takes place in cities across the country and abroad on March 31. It was started by Transgender Michigan co-founders Rachel Crandall and Susan Crocker, in response to the more-widely commemorated Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, where the international community mourns the murders of transgender people. Day of Visibility gives an opportunity for transgender people to celebrate themselves and stand up to be recognized.
Transgender Day of Empowerment is led by Transgender Detroit and its founder Michelle Fox-Phillips. It typically takes place in mid-to-late April, with a day of events at Affirmations in Ferndale. Both days have involved panel discussions and social gatherings.
But this year the organizations have gotten together to bring the two days closer together and see if some cross-promotion might be possible. They also want to find out what kind of events might get more transpeople to come out and be both “visible” and “empowered.”
“We need to find out what the trans community wants from its leaders,” said Fox-Phillips. She spoke about the ways other LGBT groups did surveys and talked to people before making decisions. “Before Equality Michigan merged they went around the state and asked people what they wanted. So that’s what we need to do. Reach out to the transgender people we know and find out what they want.”
Julia Lyn Marsh of Clawson was on hand for the first planning meeting, which took place at Affirmations on Jan. 18. “When I think of empowerment, I want to think of ways the trans community can become more public, to counteract a lot of the bad media that trans community has been receiving. It would be good to do something that helps not just transgender people, but everyone,” she said. “People who talk about it go back and forth. They say trans people are evil or wrong, and we come back with ‘No,’ and ‘We need rights.’ But most people are in the middle and say ‘eh, it doesn’t matter to me.’ We need to do things that connect us with people who have never met a transperson. …That’s how we get people to care, by being ourselves around them.”
Participants tossed around the idea of organizing a volunteer outing, where transgender people can go to a soup kitchen or to do some other kind of service to help non-transgender people. They also discussed hosting a panel discussion, and contacting local media to try and get coverage of the events.
The initial planning group had five people, but they are hoping to find others in the transgender community who may have ideas about what to do for the spring events. The next meeting will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. at Affirmations, 290 W. 9 Mile in Ferndale. Transgender people and allies are encouraged to come, share ideas and get involved with the planning of this year’s events.