By: Natalie Fujikawa (she/her/hers), Board President
March 31st marks the end of this year’s Women’s History Month with an important message truly worth celebrating: Transgender Day of Visibility. What it means to be seen, acknowledged, and loved for who you are, authentically. Identifying as a woman signifies so many things to different people, but for me, it mostly means showing up. It means caring about how decisions get made and who makes them. It means calling out injustice, while calling each other in with empathy and compassion. It means presenting myself as I am, in pants or a skirt, makeup done or not, and everything in between.
Each year, profiles of women surface and resurface to remind us of those who blazed a trail towards gender equity. But in the words of Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to lead the United States Department of the Interior:
Women are fierce — we break barriers, run companies, make scientific discoveries, raise families, and lift each other up. But the fact is, discriminatory policies blocked women from fully participating in our country for generations. It led to disparities in wages, representation and opportunities that we are still tackling. Though we have more Native women serving in Congress, a woman of color in the Vice President’s office, and women making moves across the country, we still have to recognize that the disadvantages that we face are created by a system designed to keep us out, and that, coupled with systemic racism, makes Women’s History Month all the more important.
After the month ends, we don’t stop being women, just as transgender identity does not reverse after March 31st and Black History Month does not change anyone’s race after February. Housing insecurity, gender inequality, and the disparate impact of the pandemic on women, particularly in Black and Brown communities, all continue. The arrival of April 1st alone will not end the racist attacks on members of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community. By mid-March, at least 12 transgender or gender non-conforming people had already been killed, striking a path to exceed the record of 44 violent fatalities set in 2020.
Our work towards safety and equity does not stop after Women’s History Month and Transgender Day of Visibility, but although we have much to do in the months after March, let’s continue working to create a region where LGBTQ+ people thrive.