Photo courtesy of HRC

Celebrating Trans Day of Visibility with Tori Cooper

Amidst a world awakening to the expanse of human identity, Transgender Day of Visibility stands in its fifteenth year as a beacon of resilience and celebration. Since 2009, March 31 has been a day where voices long marginalized find resonance. From battles fought in personal journeys to the collective struggle for acceptance and rights, the trans community emerges, not just visible, but vibrant.

Yet, amidst the rainbow flags and rallying cries, challenges persist. Discrimination lurks, policies lag, and misconceptions linger. As we mark this day, we reflect on strides made and the path ahead, where visibility isn’t just a goal but a promise of inclusivity.

Ahead of Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)—the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization—held events under its Transgender Justice Initiative (TJI), including a harm reduction event and a convening of ELEVATE fellows.

ELEVATE, a fellowship advancing the leadership of BIPOC femmes of trans experience, connects advocates and leaders to build skills for future trans leaders. Last year, HRC announced that the first MOTIVATE summit, the first-of-its-kind trans-masc leadership cohort, would be held in Atlanta. Trans Justice Initiative Director Tori Cooper emphasized the importance of these summits and creating opportunities for trans people in an interview with Georgia Voice.

“It’s important for all of us to make room, make space, and then provide opportunities,” Cooper said. “Making space is different than providing an opportunity. It’s important for us to do all of those things for folks, whoever the next generation are, so that they feel empowered to step into those roles.”

Under Cooper’s leadership, TJI offers resources for trans and nonbinary people to learn about sexual health and equity, as well as work opportunities, professional development, and education.

Cooper, accompanied by HBO’s “Legendary” star Stasha Sanchez, trans health advocate and organizer Sybastian Smith and Atlanta police LGBTQ liaison officer Eric Smith, led a harm reduction event on March 21 at Virgil’s in College Park. Through collaboration with local resources, advocates, and community-based agencies, harm reduction includes at-home HIV test kits, NARCAN, Fentanyl test strips, public safety and PrEP directly to the community.

“These are my people,” Cooper said. “I felt that it was necessary to ensure that my tribe had these [harm reduction] tools, too.”

Trans Day of Visibility also honors the influence of trans and nonbinary in LGBTQ history. Ballroom culture is significant not only for its family-like “houses” and competitions, but for its influences in fashion, language, and dance. Cooper wants to ensure that the vibrant culture of ballroom is not only recognized but celebrated for its sense of community for folks of trans experience. As part of this year’s celebration, HRC hosted a harm reduction event for trans people, who Cooper says are often overlooked.

“We decided to do our part for a community that’s overlooked to ensure that they get all the tools that they need to be healthy and happy, so they look fabulous on the runway when they’re doing hand presentations—that’s the ballroom term—and that they look fabulous, and feel fabulous most [important] of all, so that they can be happy and healthy.”

Trans Day of Visibility honors those who are with us today, and those who are not. On March 22, Tulsa County (Okla.) District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler stated that no criminal charges would be filed in the death of Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old transgender high school student. The news was met with frustration by many LGBTQ leaders who demand more protection and acceptance for trans kids and adults.

“In the political climate that we’re living in right now, or surviving through maybe is a better term,” Cooper said. “For every good thing we hear, there will be the opposition will probably present two or three negative messages to combat the trans and nonbinary joy that exists.”

Learn more about the Trans Justice Initiative and its leadership cohorts at