For the last 3 years, the transgender community has been honoring Transgender Day of Visibility by publishing a list of 100 accomplished people who self-identify as transgender or gender non-conforming. The list aims “to provide an overview of the breadth and diversity of work being done in, by, and for the transgender community across the United States.”
On March 29, the group held their Trans 100 Live Event, to celebrate this year's honorees. The event featured several notable transgender speakers and performers, including Tiq Milan, senior media strategist for LGBTQ Advocacy group GLAAD, who gave a heart-felt keynote address.
The event also featured a performance by Against Me! lead singer Laura Jane Grace.
While co-directors Rebecca Kling and Crispin Torres emphasize that the list is not a ranking, they say it is an attempt to capture just a “snapshot” of the different passions, activism, and advocacy in the trans community. This year's honorees include everyone from lawyers and ministers to scientists and sex workers.
“When you see other lists, they highlight particular kinds of advocacy,” Torres told MTV News. “The really special thing about our list is it goes a little bit beyond that and stretches the definition of what advocacy, visibility and transgender rights look like."
The list acts as a resource for trans people to see what 2013 honoree Laverne Cox calls “possibility models” people in with similar stories to their own represented in different fields.
And that representation really matters. When Torres was young, he said he never saw transmasculine latino men (like himself) in the media, or really at all. If the Trans100 had been around when he was young, he would’ve known that he wasn’t alone.
“It might not seem that exceptional that we don’t have those models, but for different generations there was just nothing out there,” said Torres. “Just seeing the list as a trans person, they might take away all sorts of different things, but I hope they see a little bit of themselves reflected and they know that [their] transness and trans identity don’t have to look like one thing.”
We got the chance to talk with 2013 Trans 100 honoree Daniella Carter, who was also one of the young women featured on "Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word". Carter has been working tirelessly over the last few years to share her story with audiences and media outlets around the world. Traveling and gaining a better understanding of trans narratives beyond the United States inspired her to create her own foundation — Gender Global — focusing on empowering and mobilizing trans youth everywhere.
Her vision, she said, first involves replacing the over-saturated narratives of violence in the community with more uplifting and positive ones.
"It was a great experience to uplift youth who are facing violence [through her work with "Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word,"] but moving forward we need programs that highlight more than violence," Carter told MTV News. "Instead we need narratives of freedom. We don’t show them the dedication, hard work and mindset that comes with overcoming adversity, putting out another stigmatizing narrative."
Carter has recently set up a crowd-funding campaign on GoFundMe to help with the costs of the project and she's half-way there to her $10,000 goal. She's hoping to establish a home-base for the foundation and begin interacting directly with members of the community to start making an impact.
"We’re able to break down what that process [of overcoming adversity] looks like," Carter said. "We’re able to set realistic goals and look past the oppressive narrative to see the freedom, love, success and the possibilities of life."
At the end of the day, Carter's philosophy is all about "living her truth," and using the tools she has to help others do the same.
"We all may not understand each other because we come from different race, class and gender, but the one thing I know for sure is that we are equal because we’re human," Carter said. "When someone tells you that you are not great enough, or that who you are is not respectable, you don’t need to reevaluate yourself, but the people you’re surrounding yourselves with."
“Being trans is a beautiful part of an identity," said Carter. "But does not dictate anything about what you get to do or who you get to be.”