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The Antelope

Trans community surviving, thriving

Transgender pride flag

Transgender Day of Visibility empowering individuals
By Shelby Larsen

Transgender Day of Visibility is an annual holiday dedicated to celebrating the transgender community and all their accomplishments around the globe.

Dawn Darling, a mental health therapist and gender specialist, led a panel Thursday night in the Nebraskan Student Union to celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility. The panel consisted of several transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, who shared their stories and answered audience questions.

Darling began working with transgender clients in 2014 after learning that there were no trans-affirmative identified medical services in the Kearney area. Since then, several local medical professionals educated themselves and now provide those services.

“We are making progress here in little old Kearney, Nebraska,” Darling said.

According to her, Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31, is a day to support members of the transgender community. It is also a reminder to fight cissexism and transphobia while educating others about the community.

“Unlike the Transgender Day of Remembrance, this is not a day for mourning. This is a day of empowerment and getting the recognition that transgender people deserve,” said Darling.

The theme of this year’s Transgender Day of Visibility was “Surviving, Thriving.” According to Darling, “We are not only surviving the Trump regime, but we’re making strides to transform how people think about gender across the world.”

Darling discussed the increasing transphobic political climate around the world and the importance of taking action against transphobia. Speaking out, voting, contacting government leaders and educating others are all ways to be supportive and to help ensure the safety and wellbeing of members of the transgender community.

“Although we can use visibility as a vital tool for transgender justice, visibility alone is not enough to achieve transgender liberation,” said Darling.

Thursday’s panel was an important step in helping to educate members of UNK about the transgender community. The event was organized by UNK’s Queer Straight Alliance, The Office of Multicultural Affairs and The Social Justice League.

Panel members discussed different ways that people can help support and free the transgender community.

They encourage people to reach out to transgender people or people struggling with their gender identity and to help build a community. Also, it is important to believe people when they come out, rather than merely brushing them aside or dismissing them completely.

There are many misconceptions surrounding the transgender community: transgender people know at a young age that they are trans, transgender people are rapists and transgender is a choice. According to the members of the panel, it’s important to understand that these misconceptions are not true.

Syd Horken, a sophomore social science and 7-12 education major from Lincoln, participated in the panel. They provided advice to people struggling with or unsure about their gender identities. According to Horken, it’s important to stay true to yourself, because other people and the internet cannot tell you who you are.

“Humans like to be specific and put people in boxes, but defining a person with one word, or several words, is not going to be sufficient,” Horken said.

Horken encourages all UNK students, staff and faculty to normalize the use of pronouns, even if they are cisgender. Many people on campus are including their pronouns in their email signature.

Darling’s advice to supporters of the transgender community includes knowing the terminology, using and respecting correct pronouns, stopping transphobic jokes and using it as a moment to educate, and knowing the legal, medical and political ideas that can discriminate against transgender individuals.

According to Darling, “We must use our newfound visibility to mobilize trans people against oppression.”

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