International Day of Trans Visibility honors the achievements and contributions of transgender individuals.
By Barrett White
Today marks the 12th annual International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV). At the time that the annual observance was founded in 2009, the only widely-held observance honoring transgender and gender nonconforming people was Transgender Day of Remembrance, which mourns the victims of hate crimes and violence.
TDoV, founded by activist Rachel Crandall, celebrates transgender and gender nonconforming people, their accomplishments, and their resilience while raising awareness of transgender rights.
Earlier this month, Assistant Health Secretary with the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Rachel Levine, made history as the first openly transgender presidential appointee to be confirmed by the Senate.
Dr. Levine is a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine and previously served as the Pennsylvania physician general from 2015 to 2017. She previously served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Leenah Bacchus Jones is a health educator on Legacy’s Public Health team. An openly transgender woman, Jones is thankful for her life experience and the way it has shaped her philosophy of care at Legacy. “First let me start by saying that I love life. I love my life and myself; and though it took a while, I have come to embrace being a transgender woman. I am so grateful to nature for making me one and for thinking outside the box,” Jones says with a smile.
Growing up at the tail end of the 20th century before the explosion of technology we take for granted today, Jones’ journey of self-discovery was long and involved, but she wouldn’t trade it. “When I was a child without Google and the Internet, I was so confused about what I was,” Jones says. “It took years before I understood myself, and many more for me to understand others and to understand that gender isn’t – and has never been – pink and blue. One of my favorite things about being human is being able to learn, understand, and change our perspective about so many things.
“We accommodate what we learn to our social standards,” she continues. “I have learned from everyone! From cisgender people to gender nonconforming, to my intersex friends. The most beautiful thing I have learned is to appreciate their differences, respect their names and pronouns, and appreciate them as humans.”
For International Day of Trans Visibility, Jones looks to the past in order to forge her future. The modern movement for LGBTQ+ rights has always been propelled by trans+ women of color, a fact not lost on Jones. “Above all, I am thankful to those who have come before me,” she says. “The people who marched and fought for me to walk freely and for me to be able to go to work as myself. But also our allies: those who, despite it not being the norm, fought alongside the LGBTQIA folks. Those who have had the courage to request that equality is also given to my community.”
Jones continues, “To those in the medical field who have been kind in every aspect – and that I am happy and proud to work with every day. I live in such a wonderful place and every day I am reminded how amazing we all are.”
Today, and every day, Legacy stands with our transgender and gender nonconforming friends, family, and community.