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Day of visibility shines light on trans issues

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Transgender Day of Visibility is intended to celebrate the trans community. On March 31, UVM’s LGBTQA center held its second annual TDOV in the Davis Center.

TDOV was created in 2010 by Rachel Crandall, the head of Transgender Michigan, according to the Transgender On-campus Nondiscrimination Information Project’s website.

Graduate student Benjamin Kennedy brought TDOV to UVM last year by getting funding and tabling for it, he said, and hopes the day gives trans students a voice on campus.

“I think often they’re pushed aside and disregarded, and lately students have done a good job at getting some momentum behind things like gender neutral bathrooms,” Kennedy said, “but it’s definitely not perfect.”

Some of the goals of Transgender Day of Visibility are increased awareness, knowledge and visibility of trans people, according to Becky Swem, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the LGBTQA Center.

She described it as “a day of empowerment.”

TDOV is a day of celebration and acknowledgement, according to Trans Student Educational Resources.

“So often trans people face violence and discrimination,” Swem said. “We need to continuously remember and work toward ending that, but today we celebrate.”

Aside from celebration, Swem also hopes the day creates more awareness for the UVM community, she said.

“In a perfect world, people could just be who they are without judgment and without the oppression faced by the trans community,” Swem said.

Kennedy shared his own experience with such oppression.

“A week ago I was attacked in a bathroom on campus, and it’s 2017,” he said. “I have dedicated my life at UVM to fixing these things. I can’t imagine being a younger trans student that that happened to—I would’ve left UVM.”

TDOV gives trans students voices and hope, Kennedy said.

“The day is also about helping students who are cis-gender and not involved in the queer community,” Kennedy said. “[It’s] an opportunity to see that we’re here, that we’re normal students and faculty like all of them, and that they wouldn’t necessarily know if we were here if we didn’t tell them.”

“I hope this event impacted the UVM community especially by both providing an outlet of visibility and celebration on campus as well as a reminding to all that there is always more to learn,” Junior Olivia Harris, Founder of UVM’s Queer Women’s Group, said.

LGBTQA also announced that the set date for UVM’s 2017 Translating Identity Conference is Oct. 14, 2017, Harris said.

According to Harris, the annual conference lasts all day and offers workshops and talks about gender identity.

“I hope this event impacted the UVM community especially by both providing an outlet of visibility and celebration on campus as well as a reminder to all that there is always more to learn,” she said.

Harris felt that the event was successful.

“We had people approach our table and ask questions as well as take informational pieces,” she said, “visibility is all about being recognized and that recognition comes with questions so I would absolutely say the event was positive.”

The importance of TDOV is to bring the community together and celebrate the progress that has been made so far, Kennedy said.

“This day is about love,” Swem said.

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