March 31 marks Transgender Day of Visibility. Much like the annual Transgender Awareness Week the day is meant to promote transgender visibility and highlight issues the community faces. Trans advocate Rachel Crandall created the day in 2010 when she saw media stories about the community focused around violence and wanted to shift the conversation to celebrating their lives, according to GLAAD.
While the trans community has things to celebrate – the U.S. Senate confirmation of Dr. Rachel Levine and election of local leaders including Delaware state senator Sarah McBride and Kansas state representative Stephanie Byers – the community still faces many hurdles.
More than 90 anti-trans bills have been introduced in more than 25 states in 2021. And at least 12 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been killed so far this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Plus just this week, the Arkansas Senate approved a bill banning gender-confirming treatments for transgender youth. As for how trans people are viewed in media: representation of LGBTQ characters will slightly decrease on broadcast TV this year, from 10.2% to 9.1%, according to GLAAD’s annual “Where Are We on TV” report. GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis previously told USA TODAY that she was “encouraged over the past five years of how far we’ve come on, including trans and nonbinary characters.”
But “if you remove ‘Pose’ from the study, or from the airwaves, you lose a lot of if not the majority of trans characters,” she says. “And we can’t rely on one show to lead the way,” she says. The show recently announced it would be ending after its next season, its third. One way the public can educate themselves about the transgender community is by watching movies, television shows and documentaries that reflect the transgender experience or feature transgender talent.
The tide has shifted – albeit slowly – toward more thoughtful transgender representation in the media, as discussed in Netflix’s transgender history documentary “Disclosure,” which premiered last summer.