On March 31st, 2022, the Lisa Isadora Cruz Trans Chicago Empowerment Center staff opened its doors to people of transgender experience and allies to celebrate the annual Transgender Day of Visibility. The purpose of this day is to celebrate transgender people and to raise awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide, as well as a celebration of the efforts and contributions towards liberation and human rights for the trans community.
We started off with a brief education piece by Lisa I. Cruz herself, whom this very center is named after. Followed by a short calling of previous trans advocates who have dedicated their activism towards the liberation of transgender people. Transgender symbols such as Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Christina Hayworth who all dedicated their lives to being visible and unafraid to speak on the harsh realities transgender people faced. It’s important to know too that Sylvia Rivera and Christina Hayworth were both proud Puerto Rican transgender women and have led important efforts towards LGBTQ+ human rights.
After, came Trans Chicago Empowerment Center’s first panel discussion, “Being Visible: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” with the purpose of bringing everyone’s attention to the following: 1) making it clear that there is an impact and importance in being visible in a cisgender normative world, 2) to bring awareness to the barriers transgender people have faced in the past and what barriers are still present to this day, and lastly 3) to talk about action steps allies can take to ensure they are protecting transgender people’s rights to exist. This panel was moderated by myself, Jayla X. Padilla (Social Media Specialist and HIV tester at T.E.C) and invited Milani Varela(CALOR-AIDS), Niya Moná (Brave Space Alliance), Xay Dé Fisher (Chicago House and Social Service Agency), and Emily Jade Aguillar (Communities United) to speak on the panel.
Lastly, we closed out the evening with drag performances by Sorraya Dash and Nisa Conde, both people of trans experiences. Personally, as a young trans Latina doing this work, I realized how important it is to be in community now more than ever. It is a great accomplishment to be able to organize and curate these spaces for transgender people. Seeing the smiles, the laughs, and the love going around in the room is fulfilling. Visibility, and being present is something that will not be stolen from trans people. Although we celebrate such an important day once a year, being trans and living our truth happens every single day. Please, to readers wondering how to embrace
your trans loved ones, ask them how you can best embrace us and love us for who we’ve always been.
This summary is written in Honor of the three trans women who were murdered in the month of March 2022. Africa Otero (26), Tatiana Labelle (33), and Elise Malary(31)
Special Thanks to the Trans Chicago Empowerment Center team Lisa I Cruz, Maya Lozano, Kamill Torres, Vincent Grey, and Donte Harris. Huge appreciation to Daniel Méndez (Associate Director of Public Health Initiatives) and José E. López (CEO of Puerto Rican Cultural Center)