As a trans woman, I feel more unsafe than ever. We need more than Trans Day of Visibility — we need help.

Victoria Scott
Courtesy of Victoria Scott
  • Victoria Scott is an author and transgender woman living in Idaho.

  • Today is her third Transgender Day of Visibility since coming out, and she thinks visibility is no longer enough.

  • "We've reached the limits of what can be done with awareness," she writes. "We need action."

It's my third Transgender Day of Visibility since I became visibly transgender, and I'm exhausted. It's not a long time — I've barely begun the process of reassembling the life I annihilated by coming out — yet it feels like every year has been the same exhausting slog.

Three years is long enough to know that I write the same story every year. I tell my audience in whatever terms come to me at the time that I'm an out and proud trans woman, as if there is any way for them not to notice. It's scary, but I keep doing it because I believe my community deserves to live proud, happy lives, and I make my impassioned plea for our plight to improve. It never does.

Every year I write this story, things get demonstrably worse

I finally decided to embrace myself and live as a woman openly in 2020. That year, there were a record number of anti-trans bills in the US under the umbrella of national anti-LGBTQ rule changes and laws from the Trump administration.

In 2021, despite a shift to the ostensibly pro-trans Biden admin, there was yet another record-breaking year of anti-trans legislation. In 2022, we broke the previous year's record yet again.

This year, Republicans have doubled down on anti-queer sentiments. Already by March, as I write this story, there are more than 430 anti-LGBT laws progressing through state legislatures — another record-breaking year.

This year's bills threaten to erase trans people

Oklahoma is now mulling a ban on insurance coverage for gender-affirming care, including for adults; Tennessee has already passed an "anti-drag show" law that is so broadly worded it could be used to restrict trans people from public spaces, and states like Kentucky and Texas are contemplating similar restrictions.

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott and her cat Burt.Courtesy of Victoria Scott

Right-wing commentators have gone from hand-wringing about the integrity of women's sports to saying that there "can't be a genocide" of trans people because we don't constitute "a legitimate category of being." The 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference featured a speaker who said "transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely" to raucous applause. The presumed front-runners for the Republican nomination for president in 2024 have both gone all-in on transphobia on the campaign trail, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rapidly turning the state into one of the most difficult places to be queer in the United States, and former President Donald Trump promising to go after trans people and those who support them if reelected.

All the while, trans people are killed at higher rates every year. The effects of this endemic stress are undeniable: 40% of trans people attempt suicide at some point; 82% have considered it.

The Biden administration's action appears mostly limited to mentions in speeches, and national equality legislation has stalled. No help appears to be coming for the people in hostile states who are at risk of losing care, aside from a seemingly endless number of GoFundMe links with titles like "Help ____ escape red state."

I've been very visible since I first came out as trans

I road-tripped the country in 2021 and wrote about how the experience intermingled with my identity. I've written Pride stories for unexpected audiences, used my social media following to build awareness and raise money for trans kids, and I've tried to be as unapologetically myself as possible. I don't really have the option of being fully stealth since I'm pretty visibly transgender in person, but I've still been far more open than I needed to be.

Victoria Scott
Courtesy of Victoria Scott

But these days, that visibility has begun to feel like self-harm.

When I'm visible in the hopes of helping the trans community, I'm a target. I have to clutch my pepper spray and hope the man yelling slurs at me isn't feeling especially brave tonight. I have to hold my head high when people loudly discuss my "sinful" nature in front of me. I have to read what bigots think of me and my loved ones, day in and day out, so I can neatly package it into tweets and articles and blogs to attempt to alert my cis followers of what is going on.

In return for this sacrifice, everything has gotten harder for me

I'm more scared than I've ever been.

I've moved three times in the past three years, each time to a new state and a new type of lifestyle entirely, in the hopes of finding some level of peace. (I haven't found it.) I've begun to research alternative suppliers of my hormone-replacement medication, in case pharmacies decide to stop prescribing them to trans people. I've tried to build a network of couches in liberal cities I can crash on, so if the worst happens and I have to flee my state to continue existing, I won't be living in the backseat of my car.

In short, my hands are full.

Despite the dire headlines, there's still plenty of hope

Study after study shows that transitioning helps trans people live happier lives with transition care (something that, despite this dire turn for trans people, has still been true for me), and polls show that a majority of Americans strongly oppose restrictions on trans healthcare. The current wave of anti-trans sentiment is a carefully choreographed right-wing attack on bodily autonomy that comes from the fringes of society, similar to the abortion-rights battle.

Victoria Scott
Courtesy of Victoria Scott

I believe there's still hope of a future where trans people can enjoy peaceful, satisfying lives, but it's clear that the hurdle to surpass isn't mere visibility. We've been increasingly visible and it's yielded nothing, likely because there aren't enough of us to create change on our own. Trans people are 0.5% of the American population. There are currently 20 gender-non-conforming people holding state-level elected positions, and there are no openly transgender elected officials in Congress.

On Transgender Day of Visibility, we need more than visibility

We need allies.

This needs to be a day where the country makes it clear they have our backs. We need more than throwaway State of the Union lines to protect us. We need federal legislation to protect us from state-level lawmaking. We need the people around us, in every city, to support us, rather than just in a scattered few safe places on the coasts. We need doctors who treat us like people instead of unfortunate accidents. We need our visibility to be repaid with a future we can actually imagine ourselves in.

This will be the last time I write a Trans Day of Visibility story. We've collectively reached the limits of what can be done with awareness. We need help, and we need action.

Read the original article on Insider