Fort Collins first Trans Visibility Day demonstrated community stake in legislation


Collegian | Sara Shaver

Participants of the International Transgender Day of Visibility die-in lie on the ground in Old Town Square in Fort Collins to demonstrate the lethal harm of transphobia March 31.

Ivy Secrest, Life and Culture Director

Fort Collins’ first International Transgender Day of Visibility demonstration was on March 31 in Old Town Square. NoCoSafeSpace organized a die-in demonstration in Fort Collins inspired by AIDS protests in the 1980s.

Organized by NoCoSafeSpace, gender-nonconforming community members and allies gathered to protest the hundreds of anti-trans bills proposed by state legislators this year.


“From what we’ve learned from the trans community, they’re looking more for acceptance rather than just tolerance,” said Kimberly Chambers, founder of NoCoSafeSpace.

Many attendees expressed immense concern for the safety of their peers should any of these bills be passed. A sign that read “Trans health care is suicide prevention,” accompanied by several speeches discussing how vital health care is for gender-nonconforming people, demonstrated this concern.

“I am just so sick of all of this legislation that’s being passed under the guise of wanting to protect youth from making irreversible, drastic life changes,” protester Jade Cameron said. “People can’t go outside of their own narrow reality enough to realize that those bills, those laws that they’re passing, are making these people feel so isolated, feel so alone and feel so hopeless that they will make a far more irreversible, unalterable thing in ending their lives, and they couldn’t care less about that.”

Transgender Day of Visibility is meant to be a counterpoint to Transgender Day of Remembrance in November. While those who died for being themselves are remembered in November, those who are alive are celebrated in March.

However, with the proposed bills and the rise of anti-trans sentiment, this year’s visibility day took on a political tone as well.

“The purpose of Trans Day of Visibility has been, historically, a space of celebrating existence,” Chambers said. “But when we do have such dangerous bills around health care and literal access to resources that all humans need, it can’t help but become political at that point.”

Protesters, mostly younger people, laid on the ground while legislative bills that would affect them were read aloud. They were covered by pride flags that represented their identities as allies stood around them.

“Though that individual has their own identity and story, no backstory justifies those actions. It is the responsibility of everyone to protect everyone, especially children, Chambers said.”

Colorado is legislatively a safe place for gender-nonconforming people; however, harmful legislation is still being proposed, and acts of hate are still occurring. 

Laura MacWaters, the current facilitator for Eclectic of Northern Colorado, a transgender, nonbinary and intersex support network for the region, has worked with many gender-nonconforming people to find safe spaces in the medical field.


“I meet people all the time that move here from other states because they need somewhere safe where they’re not going to be prosecuted, where they’ll be allowed to access medical care, where they’re allowed to get counseling, and that’s being taken away from them in many places,” MacWaters said.

MacWaters said this graphic demonstration is meant to show the consequences of these bills. Many people rely on gender-affirming care, and hate toward gender-nonconforming people can lead to very dangerous situations.

“We’d like it to be a day of celebration,” MacWaters said. “But it’s also deadly serious. … We’re trying desperately hard to mobilize people and make sure it doesn’t happen here.”

Because of the close timing of the event in relation to the school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, in which the shooter was reported to be transgender, there has been backlash against Transgender Day of Visibility celebrations.

“This is a national queer day of celebration that’s been around for quite a few years,” Chambers said. “And we do recognize that the timing can feel a little insensitive, given the shooting that happened in Nashville. And so while we’re still carrying on with this, we are also recognizing that it can be a sensitive time for individuals. And we really do send love to Nashville and the families that are mourning down there.”

Though that individual has their own identity and story, no backstory justifies those actions. It is the responsibility of everyone to protect everyone, especially children, Chambers said.

Events like these only occur a few days throughout the year, so creating safe spaces for people to exist without fear is one of the reasons the event was not canceled in light of the Nashville, Tennessee, shooting.

The die-in demonstration created a space for people to share with the community the realities of living with identity restrictions. For many of those who spoke, this meant losing friends to suicide, struggling with suicidal ideation and losing family and friends for coming out.

“Is it worth preventing someone from making unalterable changes to themselves when preventing them from doing that is going to make them kill themselves?” Cameron said. “As someone who has struggled with suicidal ideation my entire life, that’s so much worse than any regret that you could have from going through a gender transition.”

Reach Ivy Secrest at or on Twitter @IvySecrest.