Trans Day of Visibility is a day of empowerment and recognition towards the transgender community. The annual international holiday is celebrated on March 31, 2017. (Jane Henderson/B&W Staff)

Spectrum hosts first Transgender Day of Visibility


In an effort to support the Transgender Day of Visibility, Lehigh students and faculty gathered Friday in the University Center.

The Day of Visibility was hosted by Spectrum, Lehigh’s gay-straight alliance. This is Lehigh’s first year celebrating the day.

Spectrum member Cody Blattner, ‘20, helped organize the event.  Blattner said he views the Day of Visibility as an important opportunity to educate and create a dialogue among students about transgender people in different communities.

“It’s just a day of visibility to say, ‘Hey, we’re trans, we’re here, and these are the things we have to be proud of,’” Blattner said.

The Transgender Day of Visibility was started in 2010 by Rachel Crandall, head of Transgender Michigan, as an international holiday to celebrate and raise awareness about the discrimination transgender people face.

Before the Day of Visibility, the only major day recognizing transgender people was the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The Day of Remembrance mourns the murders of transgender people through history, particularly trans women of color. Crandall saw a need to promote visibility of the trans community in a positive light, particularly highlighting trans people at the forefront of progressive movements.

Blattner said he has an optimistic view about the future of transgender relations on Lehigh’s campus.

“I think the general Lehigh atmosphere toward trans people is overall a pretty positive one,”  Blattner said. “I haven’t encountered that many people open about a dislike of trans people, and I haven’t really encountered any fear or hatred.”

Morgan Shurr, ‘20, said she has not had many personal experiences at Lehigh with transgender people and that it’s important for students to gain a trans perspective.

“I think that there should definitely be more visibility for trans students,” Shurr said. “I think that as a whole the Lehigh community would be receptive of more visibility and would see it as an improvement to our campus.”

Even though Lehigh’s trans population is a minority, Blattner said he believes there should be support for these students, such as the resources found in the Pride Center.

“Even though there’s not a huge turnout of transgender students, the Pride Center is very vocal about saying that ‘We need to be recognizing these people, we need to make this an open space so that they can come out,’ and just lending them general support,” Blattner said.

Pride Center assistant director Scott Burden said he thinks the attitudes toward trans people at Lehigh are complicated. He said it has been shown through campus climate surveys the trans student population is facing high levels of distress and feelings of unease on Lehigh’s campus. He said he attributes these feelings to policy barriers for and a lack of education about trans students.

Burden also stressed the resiliency of the trans population, and he thinks time will change how they are viewed. He said people in organizations on campus such as Greek Allies and Spectrum are pushing for policy changes that will promote more positive attitudes and support for trans students.

“We have great hope in our community and are confident that cultural attitudes will change for the positive and barriers towards success will be removed,” Burden said.

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