To celebrate the International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV), Cassie Burn, branch rep, has written an informative article, explaining what it’s all about and how to show solidarity with trans people.

What is Transgender Day of Visibility?

Today is the 12th annual International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV).

International Transgender Day of Visibility is an annual recognition and awareness day that occurs each year on 31 March. The aim of TDoV is to celebrate transgender people’s many contributions to society across the world, while also raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people. It is a day to celebrate the resilience and success of transgender and gender non-conforming people and raise awareness of transgender rights.

What has UNISON done for trans people?

Here at UNISON University of Leeds, I have always felt supported by the branch. It supports individual trans members in the workplace, just as it does any other member who needs support.

Recently, along with the other campus trade unions, the LUU, and the LGBT+ staff network, UNISON stood against a proposed change to the trans equality policy that would have watered down the protections for trans people here at the University. A lot of effort, by a number of branch representatives and officers, had gone in to feeding back on the proposals and trying to make the University aware of the issues with them, and when they were not amended a joint letter and a petition by students eventually led to the policy being dropped.

Whilst visibility and awareness help, the branch wanted to do something more tangible to support the local trans community. To recognise TDoV this year, the branch is donating £125 to each of two local groups that support trans people, including a number of our members – TransLeeds and Non-Binary Leeds.

What can you do for trans people?

In the UK, transphobia is continuing to run riot. Since 2015 reports of transphobic hate crimes have quadrupled. According to the LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop, one in four trans people have been threatened with or experienced transphobic violence in the last year. One in three UK employers will not employ a trans person. Almost half of trans people have a suicide attempt in their past.

Access to trans healthcare faces ever increasing obstacles, with waiting lists for assessments routinely in excess of 3 years. Under NHS rules, specialist care should be available within 18 weeks. There is a concerted campaign to deny trans-related healthcare to young people entirely, at a time when it can have the greatest impact and benefits.

If you want to help trans people, listen to our experiences when we share them. Learn about our needs and the obstacles we face. Learn to identify transphobia; like many forms of hate it disguises itself behind dog whistles and “reasonable concerns”, but they are not supported in fact or are built on an assumption that we are lying about who we are. If you hear something about trans people, try to consider how it would affect you, and the impact it would have in reality – we are not a philosophical debate, we are people. And speak out to challenge transphobia where you encounter it.

If you have an opportunity, take part in trans awareness training.

Finally, if you can, support us financially – trans support services are often woefully underfunded, and as a result of the employment discrimination described above trans people are more likely to face unemployment and financial hardship. We are also increasingly driven to access private healthcare, as the NHS acts as a gatekeeper for our care rather than a provider. Donations to local groups, individual fundraisers, and larger charities such as those on this list by All About Trans all help.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for standing in solidarity with trans people.

Cassie Burn (she/her).