The International Transgender Day of Visibility was launched on March 31, 2009 to celebrate the vibrant lives of transgender people, too often framed only in terms of tragedy and death in the news and during the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Ten years later, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and David E. Ryu, in conjunction with the city’s Transgender Advisory Council, decided to specifically honor transmen, who are too often rendered invisible.
Jaden Fields, Rizi Timane and Patricio “Cacahuate” Manuel enjoyed a breakfast reception with O’Farrell before the City Hall ceremony, followed by official photos after the presentation.
“March 31st is the Transgender Day of Visibility, an international event that serves to celebrate the accomplishments and victories of transgender and gender non-conforming people while recognizing the work that is still needed to save trans lives,” O’Farrell said.
Ryu introduced Jaden Fields, a black trans community activist, health educator, and poet who co-founded Toolbox, a trans masculine support group.
“If someone had told me as a child here in Los Angeles, that at 28, I would be standing here in City Hall being recognized as a black transman doing work for my community. I would not have believed them; I would not have believed that little black child could be here. We’re often not seen in the larger fight for trans rights,” Fields said.
Rizi Timane, a Nigerian singer, actor, licensed therapist author of Unspoken Compromise, founded Happy Transgender Center to provide support for transgender individuals and their families during the transition process:
“Growing up in Northern Nigeria, experiencing severe poverty, and also experiencing gender dysphoria,” Timane said. “It has been a journey through all of the bullying and through all of the addictions. I think by sharing our stories, we warm hearts toward the transgender community.” Timane’s wife of 13 years, and his newborn baby were also at the ceremony.
Los Angeles has already become familiar with native Angelino Patricio Manuel, who is of Mexican, Irish, and African descent. He made history as the first U.S. Boxer to fight as a woman, and later as a man:
“I really look forward to a day when we as transpeople don’t have to fight so hard to make our dreams a reality,” Manuel said, “but until that day comes I say, ‘Put ’em up!’”
“Jaden, Rizi, and Pat are an integral part of our courageous community. By being visible black transmen, they are re-shaping cultural and gender narratives,” James Wen, a member of the West Hollywood Transgender Advisory Board, told the Los Angeles Blade.
“Everyday, and especially today, I am very proud to call these men my friends. As a black transman, member of the TAC (LA Transgender Advisory Council) and the founder of Invisible Men, I know how often our lives, stories and accomplishments are overlooked and under represented. I’m so excited to see this kind of visibility and empowerment for these men. This is well deserved for the work they do in our community!,” Luckie Alexander, Founder of Invisible Men, told the Los Angeles Blade. “We began this as a online platform for trans men to have the ability to tell their own narratives instead being handed who they were according to the world.”
Alexander, Chair of TAC’s Employment Committee, said March 31 marks the first anniversary of Invisible Men, which created a short documentary telling the stories of 12 Trans masculine and Non Binary individuals called the ‘Legacys’ and is now expanding “to identify or create resources lacking for this demographic.”
Invisible Men will hold a celebration and fundraising event at The Abbey in West Hollywood on April 18.
Here’s the video of the celebration of Transmen at LA City Hall: