Trans Lives Matter: Celebrating international Transgender Day of Visibility with the MTA’s help

Bernie Wagenblast marks Transgender Day of Visibility
Bernie Wagenblast aka the “voice of the subway” who came out as trans in 2023, is the host of the new mini-series podcast, “InTransit,” brining awareness to trans people.
Photo ET Rodriguez

This Sunday, March 31 marks the 16th annual International Transgender Day of Visibility. In celebration, New York City Transit, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project and the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center joined forces to create a new awareness campaign: “InTransit: Guiding 2.4 million daily riders to respect trans people.”

The initiative will run for a week at the Christopher Street-Sheridan Square train station and features posters directing riders to intransit.nyc. Once on the site, straphangers can learn about trans people in the Big Apple dating back to the 17th Century via the fictitious “T Line.”

The project highlights the stories of 17 NYC landmarks throughout trans history, like the Stonewall monument in Christopher Park and the drag balls at the Imperial Lodge of Elks in Harlem.

“Trans stories existed way before this has become the issue du jour,” said Ken Lustbader, co-director of the NYC LGBT historic sites project. “New York City has been a melting pot of trans lives and we’ve documented that, so there’s no way that that history can be erased.”  

Trans Lives Matter
Bernie Wagenblast poses with a fan at the launch of the new awareness campaign at the Christopher Street-Sheridan Square train station.Photo ET Rodriguez

Riders can also tune in to the new podcast mini-series, “InTransit” hosted by the “voice of the subway,” Bernie Wagenblast. The name may not ring a bell, but the voice will as Wagenblast is better known from her booming and ominous announcements warning people to “please stand away from the platform edge.”

Wagenblast came out as transgender on Jan. 1, 2023 and sits down with several guests on the seven-episode podcast to discuss issues trans people face as well as where they can find resources to live happy and healthy lives.

“Visibility is so important because when people see someone that’s different, they come to understand the person — not some stereotype,” Wagenblast told amNewYork Metro. “Hopefully I can increase that visibility.”

Trans Lives Matter
A new awareness campaign, “InTransit: Guiding 2.4 million daily riders to respect trans people,” will run for a week at the Christopher Street train station. Posters beckon commuters to provide space for trans people and learn about trans history in NYC through an interactive map and mini-series podcast, “InTransit” hosted by the voice of the subway, Bernie Wagenblast.Photo ET Rodriguez
Trans Lives Matter
A map highlights the stops of the fictitious “T Line” that charts historic landmarks of trans history in NYC as part of the new awareness campaign, .Photo ET Rodriguez

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 2023 set a record with more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced across the country ranging from banning trans students the right to participate in school sports to banning adults from using restrooms that coincide with their gender identity and scores of anti-LGBTQ+ bills were signed into law. As a result, the HRC declared a national state of emergency for the LGBTQ+ community. But the damage didn’t end there as trans people continue to be the target of hate crimes that turn fatal.

“It’s kind of hard to believe,” said Patrick McGovern, CEO of Callen-Lorde, the leading healthcare provider targeting trans people in NYC. “But we’re seeing similar trends in reproductive rights. We’re losing ground in ways that I don’t think any of us would have thought possible even a few years ago.”

However, McGovern also recognized New York State’s leadership on protecting access to health and ensuring that the state remains a safe haven for the entire LGBTQ+ community.

Trans Lives Matter
Christopher Park which sits outside of the Christopher Street train station houses the Stonewall National Monument which recognizes the history of the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in NYC.Photo ET Rodriguez

Established in 2009, International Transgender Day of Visibility started to grow legs when Rachel Crandall Crocker was fired from her job as a psychotherapist and lost her marriage after she came out as trans in 1997. But from the ashes rose a phoenix.

“My work wasn’t aware that they were creating a worldwide activist,” Crocker told amNewYork Metro. “If I wasn’t discriminated against so much, I don’t think I ever would have created all the things I did.”

That same year, Crocker co-founded Transgender Michigan, an organization dedicated to providing mental health and resources to trans people. She continued with her activism, but it was the advent of Facebook that helped give her cause a platform when she created a group calling for recognition of transgender people. It took some time to gain traction, but with Crocker’s perseverance, she soon had activists and leaders from around the world reaching out and wanting to join in her effort.

“I wanted a day that we could celebrate being alive,” said Crocker. “The only day we had was the [Transgender] Day of Remembrance [established in 1999] which is when we remembered those who were killed just from being trans.”

Help bring awareness and visibility to the transgender community by visiting intransit.nyc where you can listen to the stories you didn’t know you didn’t know.

And Rachel Crandall Crocker wants to remind everyone, “you don’t have to be perfect to change the world – you just have to be you.”

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