Yesterday, March 31st, was Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), an annual event that celebrates transgender people, highlights their contributions, and celebrates their visibility. It was awesome to see people of all gender identities posting with the #TDOV hashtag on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok and across the internet.
Whether or not you identify as transgender, I hope you did something special to celebrate this important day.
7 Inspiring Trans Activists
In celebration of TDOV, here are seven trans activists that are making a massive difference. If you don’t already know about them, you’re in luck because they are seriously inspiring!
1. Nong Toom
Muay Thai kickboxer champion Nong Toom was born Parinya Charoenphol into a family of nomads from a poor Thai village.
She was expelled from a monastery as a child and by the age of 12, she began training as a boxer. It wasn’t long before she became a champion – winning 20 out of 22 matches.
Knowing she wanted to transition, she saved her winnings so she could afford the sex reassignment surgery she’d wanted since she was a child.
In 1999, at the age of 18, she underwent that surgery and began living full-time as a woman. Among the challenges she faced was the fact that women were prohibited from fighting in kickboxing matches at that time.
Despite the fact that many fans felt a having a transgender competitor tarnished the pastime, Toom persisted. She refused to stop fighting and soon became an icon for achieving feminity by mastering a masculine activity.
2. Kai Wes Bigwood
Kai Wes Bigwood is a transmasculine nonbinary individual who uses their Instagram platform to advocate for trans-awareness, as well as anti-LGBT & bullying.
Living in Los Angeles, they are able to put everything out there without some of the threats and prejudices that would occur in less tolerant communities. They bravely recorded their voice after each month of testosterone and proudly displayed their post-op chest.
That doesn’t mean that they’re free from discrimination and abuse though.
Their Instagram page showed that same chest covered in bloody scratches after being physically attacked by their neighbor. It was a sobering and disheartening experience. But, it made them stronger.
They’re more resolved than ever to continue to demonstrate both the challenges and beauty of living as a nonbinary person.
3. Jennicet Gutiérrez
Back in 2015, trans and immigrant rights activist Jennicet Gutiérrez made headlines when she interrupted President Obama at a White House LGBT Pride event to advocate for LGBTQ immigrants in detention.
At the time, transgender women were faced with the danger of being housed in men’s detention centers.
Though she was eventually removed by White House staff, she quickly became a revered figure in both the LGBTQ community and immigrant’s rights communities.
Gutiérrez works as a community organizer at the Los Angeles-based organization, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, which aims to achieve the collective liberation of trans, queer, and gender-nonconforming Latinos and Latinas.
4. Alex Bertie
Hailing from Dorset, England, Alex Bertie is a transgender male and author.
He has a YouTube channel entitled “The Real Alex Bertie” that focuses on LGBTQ+ issues. Similar to Bigwood, he also documented his experiences transitioning from female to male.
Bertie offers candid and open advice to other trans people on a wide variety of relevant topics. In addition, he published an autobiography of his transition journey entitled Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard in 2017.
Both Bertie’s YouTube channel and book offer the personal and honest experiences that come with transitioning. Because he does it in an amusing and even funny way, he’s managed to gain 300,000 followers.
5. Angelica Ross
Although widely known for her role as Candy on the FX show Pose, Angelica Ross is also a powerful businesswoman, activist, and author.
Among the many LGBTQ podcasts available, Ross has one that’s particularly moving. Entitled “Like a Butterfly,” it led up to her writing her book, Like A Butterfly: Leaving the Cocoon. It’s a poignant work that discusses her struggle to understand the ways one can change their body to match how they feel inside.
Ross is the President of Miss Ross, Inc. She also the founder of TransTech Social Enterprises – a program that provides training to marginalized communities to help them to rise out of poverty.
6. Mia Yamamoto
Born in a Japanese internment camp in the 1940s, Mia Yamamoto is a criminal defense attorney.
Yamamoto began her transition right after graduating from UCLA’s School of Law.
In her work as an attorney, she has fought hard to represent transgender people in civil rights cases. She is also a co-founder of the Multi-Cultural Bar Alliance which is a coalition of minority, women’s, and LGBT bar associations in Los Angeles.
For her advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community, she was honored by API Equality and the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission.
She holds firm in her belief that every trans person should honor those who fought for, advocated for, and opened doors for the trans community today.
7. Avery Jackson
Avery Jackson had to spend very little time dealing with the struggles that other transgender youth experience.
This is because she came out as transgender at the age of 4 and was lucky enough to be supported by her parents to fully transition.
The experience shaped her into an outspoken advocate for LGBT youth. Today, Avery helps families to support transgender children in a positive way and healthy way as they transition.
To help give transgender children greater visibility, she published a children’s book about her life called It’s Okay to Sparkle. She hoped that kids who read her book will learn what it means to be transgender and not be afraid if they meet a person like her.
She also wants transgender kids who read it to know they aren’t alone and can find happiness in being the person they know they are on the inside.
Trans Activists Are Changing History
Through their actions, words, and leadership, every trans activist makes an impact on how society views the beautiful gender spectrum.
What other trans activists would you like to see celebrated in this list? Let me know in the comments and I just might add them.
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