An annual event dedicated to raise awareness and celebrate the contributions of transgender people is being observed around the world today.
Locally, advocacy group Next Generation Men of Transition organized a balloon display from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park to mark the International Transgender Day of Visibility.
Organizers said that while the Transgender Day of Remembrance honors trans people who have lost their lives to violence, today's event celebrates those who are living.
“Those balloons not only represent the people that have fallen for me to be here right now," said group founder Brittan Hardgers. "But it also represents each and every trans person that is out here hitting the ground running.”
Louis Mason, a trans advocate, said that he celebrates the Day of Visibility every year because it serves as a way to honor trans people outside of the trauma often associated with their experiences.
“It’s just another reminder that yes, we do have a lot of tragedy in our community, but there are people here alive and very well who are contributing in some shape or form to a community,” Mason said.
Mason added that many trans people still don’t feel safe coming out, and the Day of Visibility also serves to acknowledge those people.
“There are people who cannot be out because they may lose their job or they may be discriminated against or their children will be discriminated against,” said Mason.
Kamryn Jerrel is a local activist and founder of League for Equity Of Gender In Our Neighborhoods (LEGION). The nonprofit organization focuses on employment, housing and equality for trans and gender expansive people in the Rochester area. Jerrel said that for her, unity is important in raising awareness, and people who want to support trans issues need to be more than just allies.
“The fight is not about allies but it’s about accomplices because if they can take away our rights, what’s going to stop them from doing it to you?” Jerrel said.