A Story: Transgender Day of Visibility

Posted on Mar 31, 2016 | 2 comments

Today is Transgender Day of Visibility and I won’t be sharing about Avery. She has enough visibility. Instead, I want to tell you about someone who doesn’t.

Last fall, the Kansas City Royals were in the World Series, so my friend Christina from ESPN came to town. We went out to eat at one of the many BBQ restaurants around here, and near the end of our meal, a young trans woman came in to talk with one of the employees. She looked to be in her early 20s.

It was obvious she was trans. She had a bad and rather raggedy wig on and a 5 o’clock shadow showing under her perfectly applied makeup. She was wearing a red jacket and red heals. She looked fierce!

When we got up to leave, she made some small talk with Christina about clothes, and about how she picked her jeans based on how comfortable they were…because “you know.”

I drove Christina to her hotel and headed home. But my path took me right past the restaurant again. As I was sitting at a stoplight in front of it, the young woman noticed me while she stood waiting to cross the street. She came up to my window and motioned for me to roll it down.

“Where’d my sister go? She is my sister, right?” she asked.

“Yes, she is.” I replied. “She had some work to do and and has to get up early, so I took her home.”

“Oh. … What are you doing with someone like her?” she inquired, a bit puzzled.

I told her “Well, she’s my friend, so we were catching up. I have a transgender daughter, too.”

That took her a moment to process. She looked at me again really hard. “What do you mean? You have a girl who wants to be a boy?”

“No,” I said. “I have a little girl. We thought she was a boy, but she told us we were wrong. Now she’s just my girl.”

“How old is she?” she incredulously demanded.

“She’s 8.”

The young woman took a step back and shook her head. Then she looked at me again with intensity and said softly “Can I hug you?”

So at 10pm, I stepped out of my car on Main Street in the middle of Kansas City and gave her a hug. Her hug in return was bone-crushing and absolutely one of the best hugs I’ve ever felt. She squeezed me like she would never let go, and I swear that I was encircled by every emotion it’s possible for a person to feel.

Then in a very quiet voice she said, “You’re doing right by your little girl. Please don’t ever stop doing right by her. My momma threw me out when I was 12.”

And then she let me go so quickly that I almost lost my balance, and she spun around on her red high heel and rushed away. I saw her wiping tears off her cheeks as she walked down the street into the darkness.

I don’t know her name. I don’t know where she lives, if she has food to eat, if she receives even the most basic medical care, or what she does to survive.

I do know that she is invisible to her momma. I do know that she’s probably invisible to almost everyone in Kansas City. But she isn’t invisible to me. Her face is burned into my mind, and I’m scared that the next time I’ll see her, it will be on the news as the murder of another trans woman of color is reported.

Today, on Transgender Day of Visibility, be proud at how far visibility has come and how many stories are being told. But please don’t forget that there are so many trans men, woman, and youth who are invisible. They matter, too. Until they don’t have to hide until they are celebrated — we have a lot to do.


#transgenderdayofvisibility #tdov #imlookingforher


  1. Such a powerful post, Debi! One I will think about for a long time…from one mom to another, thank you for sharing! xoxo

  2. What a nice story.

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