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“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Did you know that there are over 400,000 flowering plant species around the world, ranging in colors, shapes, and sizes? Beautiful, right? There are nearly 8 billion people across the globe. No one is identical, not even so-called “identical twins.” Growing up, my parents reminded me to be myself. Those words have a different meaning to me today.

You may have tricked a friend a few days ago on April Fools’ Day but did you know that March 31 was a special day also? It was Transgender Day of Visibility, a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements of the transgender community. “Every year, we set aside a moment in time to celebrate transgender and non-binary people in all their resilience and ferocity,” said Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson. “But the truth is they deserve more than a day.”

You may be transgender, have a friend or family member who is, or be one interested in learning about this community. I too am learning. Just as anyone, trans folks have different needs and priorities. The key is to be respectful. We can learn from each other. It makes the world an interesting place.

In recent times, we have seen too many hate crimes against the trans community. The Humans Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization published a report and estimates that 1 in 5 hate crimes are motivated by anti-LGBTQ. Last week they lobbied for new laws such as the Equality Act to end discrimination and provide these Americans with equal access to education, jobs, housing, and travel accommodations.

What can we do? For starters, speak up against anti-trans rhetoric and use your voting power to advocate on behalf of the trans community. Speak up and show others that you are supportive. We all have a story to tell and can learn a great deal by listening to others’ stories. Get involved in your community by supporting policies that ensure all people feel safe in their daily lives.

Written by Nicole Scott, MSW Intern

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