As of March 21, according to the Human Rights Campaign, there are 435 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in state houses across the country. More than 110 of those bills would limit or prevent transgender people from accessing gender-affirming care, while others target curriculum censorship and drag performances. We’ve also seen the introduction of a record number of bathroom bans compared to any previous year.
This national anti-trans movement of course includes North Carolina. Two anti-trans bills were introduced in North Carolina on Feb 1, both targeting transgender youth. Senate Bill 49 would require teachers to inform a child’s parent should the child want to change their name or pronouns and ban discussion on gender identity and sexuality in K-4 curriculum, while House Bill 43 would ban gender-affirming health care for trans youth.
A release opposing the two bills from Charlotte Transgender Healthcare Group (CTH), a collective of healthcare providers reducing health-care disparities for gender-diverse people, stated, “…these bills are unethical, misleading, misinformed, and will undoubtedly cause harm to an already vulnerable community.”
“These bills are clearly a targeted attack on transgender and gender-diverse individuals and an attempt to disempower and punish health-care professionals and teachers for following the ethical duties of our governing boards and act in opposition to the research,” the statement continued. “Education and health care should be led by those who are educated in their areas of specialty, the ethical standards of their professions, and recipients of the care, not by politicians.”
Anti-trans legislative attacks aren’t isolated events, pointed out Danielle Willis (she/her), director of clinical services with Time Out Youth. These bills set the stage for discrimination in schools, hiring and housing when people believe the government backs their anti-trans beliefs.
March 31, Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), serves to bring awareness to the discrimination that trans people face and celebrate their contributions to society.
Awareness isn’t black and white, though, insisted Bethany Corrigan (they/them), director of Transcend Charlotte. Honest media coverage is essential in bringing legislative attacks on trans folks to the forefront, but continued sensationalized coverage from a mourning community takes its toll.
“When media only reports on the devastation and the tragedy [of trans folks], there’s an implication that that’s what it means to be trans,” they said.
For Corrigan, TDOV exists to highlight trans excellence. They emphasized that, while it’s necessary to ensure people remain enraged at and engaged against the attacks on trans people’s civil liberties, we also need to celebrate stories of trans joy and success.
Celebrating Trans Day of Visibility in Charlotte
In recognition of Trans Day of Visibility 2023, three trans-inclusive organizations are celebrating trans identity and preparing educational resources for attendees.
Transcend Charlotte, an organization that issues free social support and services to the trans community, will hold a free, inclusive mini market welcoming all ages on Saturday, April 1 from noon-4 p.m. at IV Stones Event Center in the Belmont neighborhood.
Every resource provided at the market — including binders and binder fittings, gender-affirming haircuts, groceries, HIV/STI testing, housing and/or program referrals and more — will be free. “People will leave with their hands and their hearts full,” Corrigan said.
The Mini Market became a refuge for the trans community after the resurgence of vitriolic anti-trans sentiment in 2021, Corrigan told Queen City Nerve.
“That summer … we needed to refocus our attention from the hate that we were encountering and the marginalization of the legislative attacks to the excellence of trans identity and the joy of being queer and the success that our community has achieved.”
Time Out Youth and Charlotte Black Pride are just a couple of the organizations participating in the Mini Market and are also holding their own TDOV celebrations.
Time Out Youth will host a self-care evening at its center in southeast Charlotte’s Echo Hills neighborhood. The event was organized in direct response to the distress the anti-trans bills have caused the community and will offer folks aged 13-24 a free night of binding and tucking tips, hormone information, haircuts, makeup tutorials and more from 5-7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 31.
Charlotte Black Pride (CBP) will close out the TDOV weekend at NoDa Brewing Co. from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, April 1 with its annual Welcome to Spring 2023 Kick-off event. This trans-led event will feature reflections by trans individuals and feature vocal performances, comedy acts, Black-owned food trucks and more.
Trans folks aren’t only visible to these organizations for one day. All three organizations extend resources to the trans community year-round.
Transcend Charlotte offers comprehensive social and educational services, mental health and social support programming, in-house HIV testing, substance use support and some housing services for trans folks 18+.
Time Out Youth Center, located at 3800 Monroe Road, provides resources to trans and gender-diverse individuals ages 13-24. The center’s programs include unlimited free therapy, weekly discussion groups like Tea Time and Melanin & MagiQ (both led by a transgender woman) and a 24/7 Discord Server monitored by senior clients and staff for closeted trans youth or kids that don’t feel safe coming into the center.
In South Carolina, an organization called Gender Benders hosts an annual inclusive summer camp for trans and non-gender-conforming youth.
What can you do?
Queen City Nerve asked Fulton, Corrigan and Willis what they would suggest cis allies do if they’re looking for ways to support the trans community on Trans Day of Visibility and any other day of the year.
Educating people on trans issues like the statewide and national anti-trans bills is paramount, Fulton said. “A lot of people feel like they don’t have to know about it because it’s not affecting them,” he said. “But it may affect your son or daughter, your mother, your father, your best friend.”
When people are informed, they can enact change, Corrigan said, adding that it’s important for allies to step up and stop the legislative attacks against trans people and interrupt the cycle of gender-based violence.
Fulton encourages people to send a message to their mayor or governor and make sure they’re registered to vote to voice their opinion and concerns.
Besides political action, allies can also contribute meaningful impact through conversation, representation and listening to the needs of the trans community, said Fulton.
In his experience, the negativity toward trans folks comes from the unknown. He believes having an open discussion about trans issues can cure some of the rampant hatred aimed at the community.
Open conversation with the people directly affected by these issues is the best way to provide relevant support, according to Willis, who said that, in working with trans kids, her blanket answer for questions of support is to believe trans kids and let them tell you who they are.
Donating resources (money, food, life essentials) to queer organizations also helps the trans community get the support they need in the way that they want, Willis said.
She encourages people that want to help to do so directly through the agencies that are doing the work. “And we’re always doing the work.” Some organizations, however, are all talk.
Some organizations, however, are more about lip service than action, Fulton warned. He challenges those organizations to put someone that looks like the people they say they are supporting on their boards to help them make decisions.
“As organizations, you have to look at yourself and see what you’re missing,” Fulton said. “In 2018, that’s what we did.”
That’s the year that Charlotte Black Pride added a Transgender Liaison to their board, opening up access to the trans community and bringing in invaluable feedback that makes a big difference to their team, Fulton said.
Time Out Youth is also intentional in its hiring to make clients feel represented in its staff, Willis said.
“[The center should] always feel like a safe space to them and a place where they can come and escape all of the scary stuff that’s happening outside.”
Protective legislation and the deconstruction of systems and processes are important, but we have to recognize the everyday joy and sacredness of being trans and nonbinary, Corrigan said. “Because at the end of the day, trans kids deserve to be trans adults.”
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