The Austin Chronicle

Qmmunity: Honoring Our Trans and Nonbinary Siblings

Transgender Day of Visibility celebrations go virtual

By Beth Sullivan, March 27, 2020, Columns

Now in its 11th year, International Transgender Day of Visibility (Tue., March 31) makes space to acknowledge and celebrate our trans and nonbinary siblings while also raising awareness around the discrimination trans and nonbinary folks face worldwide. Unlike November’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, this is not a day to grieve: This is a vital time to honor living trans and nonbinary folks – and for them to be celebrated.

In light of COVID-19, Gender Unbound, Austin’s annual festival showcasing trans and intersex artists, has postponed its in-person TDoV celebration. Still, that hasn’t stopped the org from going virtual in the meantime, which it plans to do with Tuesday’s TDoV livestream via Facebook Live (7-8:30pm at Gender Unbound's FB page). “Trans people need community now more than ever,” Gender Unbound’s Drew Riley tells me. Community events, Riley explains, allow folks an opportunity to not only be themselves but also be around fellow community members, which is vital for mental health; moreover, many of the artists to be featured in the livestream have lost their gigs and with them, their income. Riley cites providing such emotional and economic support as a driving factor in Gender Unbound’s decision to host a virtual TDoV celebration. “Our main goal this year is to remind trans people that they are not alone, give our communities some much needed distraction and entertainment in addition to validation, and show off the outstanding talents of local trans artists,” says Riley.

Riley notes the details are evolving as Gender Unbound learns how to throw a virtual event, but for now, the livestream will include music, poetry, and comedy performances. Statewide advocacy group Transgender Education Network of Texas has also tentatively scheduled a virtual drag show in celebration of TDoV (Tue., March 31, 7-9pm), TENT Executive Director Emmett Schelling tells me. The plan for now, Schelling says, is to hold the show via Zoom. It’s TENT’s annual fundraiser, but in recognizing that folks are in financial stress because of COVID-19, Schelling says there will be a fee-waiver option. “At the end of the day we really just wanted to do our best to create a virtual space where we could share community, appreciate the talent of our community members’ drag performances, and celebrate visibility,” Schelling explains. (Find more info soon at TENT’s FB page.)

For those who aren’t trans watching Gender Unbound’s livestream, Riley hopes it will provide education about the gender spectrum in addition to the “complexity and beauty of transgender peoples.” Above all else, she stresses, the celebration “will be very trans and very queer, therefore it will be wonderful.” Here’s to that, QTs.

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