Transgender Day of Visibility started in 2009. It’s an annual event which occurs on 31 March, celebrating the transgender community and their contributions to society. Alongside this, it raises awareness of the discrimination they face worldwide, especially in countries where it’s illegal to be transgender.

For me, gender identity is all about embracing who you truly are. I came out while I was in my final year of secondary school. I went to a Catholic school, and LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] education was minimal back in 2015. As we were only taught about the downsides to homosexuality for our Religious Education exam, I was scared to tell anyone about my true identity in case I was excluded or expelled.

Now, it’s mandatory for all schools to teach LGBT education at an age-appropriate level. Children will grow up learning that life isn’t always black and white and there is a rainbow involved. Colleges and universities have converted some of their toilets to be gender neutral, instead of telling their transgender students that they can’t use their preferred toilet. Hopefully, in the future, schools will follow suit.

Through my experience, I learned that hiding your identity damages your mental health. When you are faced with a situation like I was, you need to think which would be the less painful option. People can identify as transgender from childhood. Having a young child who is bullied is bad enough, but when you have a child who is bullied because of their gender identity and they don’t think they have any option but to commit suicide, it’s even worse.

Doctors will also be more accepting and won’t pass gender dysphoria [the inner feeling of discomfort and distress caused by someone’s gender identity not aligning with the sex they were assigned at birth] off as a mental health condition.

Not everyone will be accepting of your gender identity, neither will they be happy with a decision that is made. Haters will hate, and you will get that regardless. Sometimes you will have to cut people, including family, out of your life. The thought of it may be painful, but it’s short-term pain for long-term gain and your happiness comes before anyone else’s. The main thing to remember is to be who you want to be, not what others want you to be. It’s your life; you only get one shot at it, so therefore you need to embrace yourself. You are not alone because there are other people going through a similar thing to you, and life does get better.

The transgender community have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Transgender Day of Visibility will remain important until we are all seen as equal human beings everywhere in the world.

No-one should judge a book by its cover, so why judge a trans person by their appearance without getting to know them? You will find that we are just like you – human.

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