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‘Day of Visibility’ Recognizes, Highlights Members of Transgender Community

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SUNY Plattsburgh will host Transgender Day of Visibility Wednesday, March 27 with a day-long program that includes panel discussion, conversation with trans members of the campus community, LGBTQ+ trivia and more beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Angell College Center.

Held in conjunction with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, Title IX and the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance, the university’s commemoration coincides with both the national and international observance, held March 31. It’s a day dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by trans people worldwide.

In 2021, President Joe Biden officially proclaimed March 31 Transgender Day of Visibility in the United States, saying in part, “I call upon all Americans to join in the fight for full equality for all transgender people." He was the first American president to issue a formal presidential proclamation recognizing the event. It was first observed in 2014 by activists around the world.

‘Day to Highlight’

“Transgender Day of Visibility is a day to celebrate and acknowledge the transgender, gender non-binary/non-conforming/gender fluid, intersex and two-spirit communities,” said Kelly Metzgar, co-founder and executive director for Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance.

“It’s a day to highlight people in our community who have made a difference or impact on society for who they are and the accomplishments they have made in our community, nation and globally,” she said.

Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is held Nov. 20 and honors those of the trans community who were killed over the preceding 12 months, Metzgar, a transgender woman, said TDOV “is exactly the opposite; it’s a day to celebrate transgender people and culture.”

irland chamarsKimberly Irland, SUNY Plattsburgh Title IX coordinator, said it’s important for SUNY Plattsburgh to be a part of these events because they dovetail into the university’s strategic plan, Plattsburgh Next, by embracing the plan’s fourth pillar, which highlights the university’s obligation to engage the North Country community.

“We are an educational center,” Irland said. “Part of our institutional value is to provide opportunities for campus and community members to experience competencies and know and normalize the visibility of this group, both by the system and the individuals who don’t feel safe being their authentic selves. Transgender Day of Visibility gives campus and community that opportunity.”

Call Out Anti-Transgender Rhetoric

Chris Chamars, coordinator for multicultural initiatives in the DEI office and a transgender man, said a day like TDOV is important to call out anti-transgender rhetoric, which, he said, has increased sharply across the United States since 2016.

“This rhetoric often leads to anti-transgender policies and bills that limit transgender people's ability to receive basic healthcare, education, legal recognition, and their right to publicly exist,” he said.

Citing the Trans Legislation Tracker, in 2024 there are nearly 525 anti-trans bills across 41 states, “with 37 of those bills being introduced at the federal level,” Chamars said.

“There are so many targeted attacks toward a population that, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA, makes up about 5% of the U.S. population, approximately the same percentage as the U.S. population with red hair.

Must Raise Voices

“In a time when existing as a transgender or gender non-conforming human is met with such resistance, but fewer than 1 in 3 adults personally know someone who is transgender, we must raise the voices of transgender and non-binary humans. It is through hearing the stories of those different from ourselves we can see their humanity and learn how to support them in this unprecedented time,” he said.

Participants at the March 27 event will be welcomed at a reception beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the lobby area in front of the Cardinal Lounge, Angell College Center. At 9 a.m., Metzgar and Irland will discuss federal and state laws that protect transgendered individuals.

Other sessions include:

  • “Supporting Trans Athletes,” 10 a.m. in the Cardinal Lounge. Two SUNY Cortland guest presenters will delve deeper into protections afforded by law, particularly Title IX, as they pertain to trans athletes but also how to support this population from the campus and student perspective. Dr. Erin Morris, associate professor of sport management, and Dr. Kristine Newhall, associate professor of kinesiology will address participants via Zoom.
  • Forum discussion, 11 a.m. in the Alumni Conference Room. Metzgar will moderate a panel who identifies as transgender or gender nonconforming, discussing what it’s like to live in the North Country.
  • Chat with LGBTQ+ Resource Committee, noon-2 p.m. in the HUB, Angell College Center, features Chamars and Lindsey Bradley, service desk supervisor in Feinberg Library, who will be on hand for a drop-in chat. They will also play the film, “The Trans List,” a 2016 HBO documentary featuring 11 transgender Americans sharing their stories in their own words
  • LGBTQ+ trivia, 2-4 p.m. in the HUB, with Metzgar and Chamars, presenting trivia in a “Jeopardy” format

The day winds down with Pizza with the President, a chance to meet with SUNY Plattsburgh President Alexander Enyedi and share a slice or two, beginning at 4 p.m.

The morning sessions will also be accessible via Zoom, the link for which is available for those who register. For more information, contact Chamars at [email protected] or Irland at [email protected].

— Story, Photos by Associate Director of Communications Gerianne Downs

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