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Transgender Community Pressed to Become Visible This Week

March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility and blogger Meggan Sommerville is involved in a social media campaign underway to encourage acceptance. (Meggan Sommerville)
March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility and blogger Meggan Sommerville is involved in a social media campaign underway to encourage acceptance. (Meggan Sommerville)
March 30, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - There's a big push on social media this week for those in the transgender community to come forward. Thursday is International Transgender Day of Visibility.

Blogger and activist Meggan Sommerville says it's also a day to ask their friends and coworkers to help champion their case for acceptance.

She says transgender people are still bullied, abused, harassed and hated, and recent action by lawmakers in some states has not helped. She's calling for federal legislation to end discrimination.

"Say, 'Hey look, we respect everyone's individual choices to live their life authentically,'" says Sommerville. "You, as a company, can not discriminate based on your either religious views, moral views, or whatever."

Indiana lawmakers approved a controversial religious freedom law last year, then had to revise it because of public outcry over its potential for discrimination.

Missouri lawmakers are considering a similar one. Elsewhere, Georgia's governor vetoed a religious freedom law in that state this week.

In North Carolina, a lawsuit has been filed against the governor and state officials over legislation that says people have to use a public restroom based on the gender they were born with, not the one they identify with.

Sommerville says the idea is to empower people on this day of visibility.

"We have to make our voices heard," she says. "And every transgender person that transitions within their workplace and has the courage to step up and be visible, is going to help change the world around them."

Sommerville says small changes will have a ripple effect, and eventually lead to acceptance.

She sums up their hopes this way.

"Accept us for who we are, love us for who we are, and y'know, you may not understand us, you may not get it, but have the decency to respect us," Sommerville says.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO