On March 31, the 11th-annual International Transgender Day of Visibility will be observed. While every year since its inception the event has drawn celebrations around the world, locally, Michiganders can commemorate the day with its founder, Transgender Michigan Executive Director Rachel Crandall-Crocker. This year, Crandall-Crocker is preparing to host the event virtually on March 30, at 12 a.m. to March 31, at 11:45 p.m. — a second time since COVID-19 restrictions came into effect around this time last year.
"People have been real lonely. So many things are canceled, and I really want people to have a chance to get things off their chests," she said. "I'm really excited about that. We don't cancel things at Transgender Michigan. We are having the chat and, hopefully, in a few months, we can have live events — we are a determined bunch."
At the event, attendees are encouraged to "drop in any time," and they can participate in an open mic that will allow guests to feature poetry, storytelling, music and more.
"Call to poets, storytellers, musicans and artists: Send us your video of your performance to show on our stage," wrote event organizers. "See our Pride stage [at transgendermichigan.org] for examples of what we are looking for. Send your YouTube link or video to [email protected]."
Crandall-Crocker added that attendees can also attend a Transgender Visibility Day Chat on Sunday, March 28, from 2 to 3 p.m. They can use the online space to connect with fellow members of the trans community to talk and learn about issues they've been facing during this period of isolation. That element of connection, even from miles away, is why Crandall-Crocker is eager to continue the virtual component of TDOV long after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
"Even if we're able to have it live this year, I want to have an online component, too, like a chat," she said. "We want to have affirming events, and that's what sets it apart from the Day of Remembrance. We want to have life-affirming events."
And while she isn't sure that the annual August Transgender Pride in the Park event will be able to happen in 2021, which was 300-strong just two years before, Crandall-Crocker said she's eager to use events like these to raise the visibility of not only the community itself but the activism Transgender Michigan is doing.
"I'm also doing some consulting for the Michigan Department of Corrections," she said. "They want me to help them change some policies, and I'm pushing for everyone who deals with trans people in prisons or in jails to have training."
This work, Crandall-Crocker said, is vital. Especially in light of recent events like Michigan's Camp Boomerang rejecting the membership of trans men, the trans-exclusionary "super straight" trend, and the lawsuit against MDOC by a trans woman who was raped after being forced to bunk with a cisgender male. She's eager that all attendees will feel affirmed after attending.
"We want to celebrate being alive and being trans," she said.