Today is Trans Day of Visibility. One year ago, I was in a bunk bed in Denmark, lonely and exhausted, and I posted something briefly to Facebook about being trans before passing out. I woke up to huge amount of support (mostly), and felt really good about myself.

My exposure was empowering. Before that moment, I was only somewhat open about my transness. To feel loved and supported by my friends with who I am was and still is amazing.

Now it’s 2019. I’ve been wearing this label proudly for a year. I’ve changed a lot as a person, I think mostly for the better. My trans identity is something that feels less new and more like a part of me. There’s still cracks at the edges, but I’m not alienated by my own identity.

I’m very out, to my work, friends, and recently even family. Walking down the street with my feminine presentation and rebelliously queer aesthetic, I am seen as trans every day. Because of that, the idea of visibility matters less to me personally. It’s about my community.

As of this writing, multiple states have proposed transphobic bathroom laws, the U.S. military has banned transgender soldiers, and the war about trans rights rages on with seemingly something new every week.

I appreciate the intent of this day. To celebrate ourselves is something sorely lacking, and simple representation is seen as a great victory. Only yesterday I was attending Vice’s Euphoria event, my face appears in Autostraddle, and I did a photoshoot yesterday to represent Reclaim Pride.

Visibility is important. Representation is important. But either without change and empowerment is simply hollow.

What’s the difference between being visible and being a symbol? I’m not sure yet.