Transgender Day of Visibility

Each year on March 31, the world observes Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) to raise awareness about transgender people. It is a day to celebrate the lives and contributions of trans people, while also drawing attention to the poverty, discrimination, and violence the community faces.

International TDOV was created in 2010 by trans advocate Rachel Crandall. Crandall, the head of Transgender Michigan, created TDOV in response to the overwhelming majority of media stories about transgender people being focused on violence. She hoped to create a day where people could re-focus on celebrating the lives of transgender people, empowering them to live authentically, while still acknowledging that due to discrimination, not every trans person can or wants to be visible.

Given that a minority of Americans say they personally know someone who’s transgender, the vast majority of the public learns about trans people from the media. This is a problem because, as shown in the Netflix documentary Disclosure, the media has misrepresented, mischaracterized, and stereotyped trans people since the invention of film. These false depictions have indisputably shaped the cultural understanding of who trans people are and have taught the public how to react to and treat trans people in their lives. It's going to take a lot of work to undo the harm caused by these depictions.

However, society is becoming more accepting as trans people feel increasingly comfortable and confident being publicly and fully themselves, and media representations of their lives begin to improve. This is especially apparent in the generational familiarity of trans people.

According to Gallup, while only about 30% of the general American public says they personally know a trans person, that percentage drastically varies when segmented by age. For example, 19% of Americans over 65 claim to know someone trans, while half (50%) of Americans under the age of 30 have a transgender friend or family member. This isn't surprising when taken into account that about 1 in 5 Gen Z adults identify as LGBTQ, according to Gallup's 2022 poll. 

But there has also been a growing backlash from anti-LGBTQ activists who are targeting trans people, especially children, since marriage equality for same-sex couples was achieved in 2015.

In 2023, over 400 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed so far, with over half specifically targeting trans people, particularly youth. Both 2021 and 2022 saw a massive increase in anti-trans legislation. This anti-trans hypervisibility harms all trans people who are being demonized and scapegoated by politicians and in many media outlets. 

That's why it's still necessary for trans people to be seen through authentic, diverse, and accurate stories which reflect the actual lived experiences of trans people; both for themselves and for those people who believe they've never met a trans person.

This includes in news media, where too often trans people's voices are missing from coverage of anti-trans laws and policies affecting their lives. Without trans people and experts weighing in, and without trans representation in newsrooms to help guide coverage, anti-trans discrimination is often misrepresented in the news as a "culture clash" and "just asking questions" rather than as willful misinformation and targeted hate.

We are starting to see progress in film and TV, but we still have a long way to go. While representation of TV characters has significantly improved over the years, as of TDOV 2022, there are 42 regular and recurring characters appearing on broadcast, streaming, and cable. However, these 42 characters cannot possibly represent the full diversity of the trans community nor undo one hundred years of misinformed, inaccurate, and harmful representation.

That’s why this year for TDOV, GLAAD has partnered with and is supporting a number of advocates and organizations on initiatives to counteract the disinformation campaign targeting the trans community.

  • Fact Sheet: Reporter Guide to Covering Transgender People, Topics, and Legislation
  • Lawmaker Contact Action Page: GLAAD’s new one-stop page for LGBTQ people and allies to contact their governor, senators and state representatives and use their voices to protect LGBTQ Americans.
  • #TransWeek of Visibility and Action (#TWOVA) is in its third year, led by Chase Strangio and Raquel Willis, focused on helping all trans people define and understand the anti-trans political landscape and the violence facing the community, while offering resources to take concrete action.
  • CHANGEMAKERS, a 4-part series presented by #NEONxGLAAD and Ally, spotlights the powerful work of bold founders and CEOs of Black trans and nonbinary-owned businesses reshaping their communities and disrupting their industries. Season 2 highlights: House of Tulip Executive Director, Mariah Moore, Stealth Bros & Co Founder/CEO, Braxton Fleming, "ValiDate" Lead Developer, Dani LaLonders , and Layshia Clarendon, the first active out trans nonbinary WNBA player. Clarendon is also the founder of the Layshia Clarendon Foundation.
  • GILEAD x GLAAD shares Southern Storybank, a series of video portraits featuring transgender people as well as people living with HIV across the U.S. South, describing their daily lives and lifelong journeys in their own words.
  • GLAAD and Getty Images continue to drive awareness for transgender people through visual representation, encouraging brands and marketers to help increase intentional imagery with resources to guide visual storytelling. Read more about the partnership here and ways to take action.

Below are some resources from GLAAD and other organizations that can be used to create accurate coverage of transgender people in media:

Resources on Transgender Healthcare:

Resources on Transgender Youth:

Resources on the Political Climate for Transgender People:

Resources for Familiarizing with the Transgender Community and Advancing Allyship:

To learn about some of the TV shows, films, and creators GLAAD celebrates for trans representation, read:

To learn more about what it means to be transgender visit: 

For answers to frequently asked questions visit: