There’s no argument anymore over whether or not Facebook and other social networking Web sites are a viable means to community organizing, planning events and connecting within a community. But every once in a while, the power of the Internet can still provide a surprise.
The most recent in the LGBT community came one night as Transgender Michigan Executive Director Rachel Crandall sat at her computer, unable to sleep. She created an event page for something called the International Transgender Day of Visibility. It was an idea she had in her mind for some time, and it exploded.
A couple of months ago, such a day had not existed. Now, it has spread across the United States (in Minnesota, California, Maryland and Washington, D.C., just to name a few), and even into Canada and England.
On March 31, several events held in honor of this new day of celebration will be held locally, including a panel discussion at Five15 in Royal Oak. We urge you, Between The Lines readers, to attend this discussion. If not for a sincere interest in issues surrounding visibility and being out for trans people, then simply to witness history in the making.
This event is the kind that makes LGBT Michiganders remember good things about our local community. It’s viral, it’s grassroots and it’s going to be fun.
Transgender Day of Visibility, says Crandall, isn’t about raising money or gaining members at an organization. In fact, it’s not even run by any particular organization. Instead, it is bringing together the community as a whole – and not just trans people.
For example, the panel includes Alicia Skillman of the Triangle Foundation, philosopher, activist and public speaker John Corvino and Crandall herself.
The day urges all people to get involved, whether they are transgender or just an ally. People can come out and support their friends, wear purple ribbons in honor of trans visibility, or just update their Facebook status on March 31.
Crandall claims that she wanted to create a day where organizational affiliation, social status and orientation didn’t factor into participation. And she’s doing just that.
Last Saturday’s Big Bash saw over 400 community members come out in support of Affirmations. They dished out up to $200 a ticket, opened their hearts and wallets for auction items, the proceeds for which will help the center, and showed tremendous support in a tough economic time. It was a phenomenal event, especially considering the grim state of things in Michigan.
For Transgender Day of Visibility, we hope that the community will show similar enthusiastic support – and you can leave your wallets at home.
For all that we gripe about social networking sites, Facebook can be a wonderful thing when it comes to quickly organizing events. And for all we gripe about the LGBT community we’re a part of, events like the first ever (and definitely not the last) International Transgender Day of Visibility prove that there’s a reason we love our big, gay family.