Press Release

San Francisco honors International Transgender Day of Visibility and Action

San Francisco celebrates International Transgender Day of Visibility 3/31 through virtual events and actions, including a COVID vaccine drive and multimedia education campaign, while honoring community heroes and organizations working on the front lines of the pandemic.

San Francisco, CA —(Wednesday, March 31, 2021) Today San Francisco’s Office of Transgender Initiatives and community organizations honor the International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV).  

Transgender Day of Visibility is an annual celebration recognized internationally as a day of action and celebration of trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people while raising awareness of the work that is still needed for trans rights. Trans and gender nonconforming leaders started the annual celebration in 2009 in response to the lack of community events that specifically celebrated the lives and contributions of TGNC people. 

Today, in honor of TDOV the Office of Transgender Initiatives (OTI) in partnership with community organizations and the City’s COVID Command Center (CCC) is launching a multimedia vaccine campaign: “Show your Pride! Get Vaccinated.” The campaign builds off OTI’s Trans Wellness SF initiative to address the impact of the pandemic on the LGBTQ community, vaccine hesitancy, and to improve access to information and vaccine signups. The campaign uses a mix of video interviews and digital images highlighting LGBTQ community members who have received the vaccine and are thriving throughout San Francisco, including The Transgender District, Castro, and more! Learn more about the campaign here. 

Also, the Office of Transgender Initiatives in recognition of TDOV is highlighting “Celebrating Trans & GNC Heroes of the Pandemic” as a way to honor and thank TGNC community leaders and organizations who have been at the forefront of the pandemic and done so much to support our most impacted communities during this difficult year.

“Today, we honor the Trans Day of Visibility in San Francisco and around the world. Although we have made strides in our fight for equality, there is still much work ahead to combat discrimination across the country and end the violence against our trans community,” said Clair Farley, Executive Director of the Office of Transgender Initiatives. “Although this year’s events look different due to COVID-19, we are still coming together virtually to celebrate community, build awareness and take action against anti-trans legislation across the county, while showing our pride in our City and communities by getting vaccinated when it’s our turn.”

Over the last year, TGNC communities have been severely impacted by the pandemic, and similar to the general population, it has had a disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx trans and gender nonconforming community members. This is due to existing long-standing inequities and higher prevalence of underlying health conditions that make TGNC communities much more vulnerable to the virus. Furthermore, access to inclusive and accessible healthcare can be disparate depending on where one lives, and the fear of continued discrimination can prevent TGNC people from accessing care and the vaccine. The U.S. Transgender Survey found that one third of respondents who saw a healthcare provider reported experiencing mistreatment related to being transgender. Furthermore, 23% of respondents did not see a doctor due to fear of mistreatment and 33% because they couldn’t afford it.    

A more recent report from the PSB Research and the Human Rights Campaign found that preexisting barriers and ongoing discrimination compound the challenges the transgender community faces during this public health and economic crisis.  

  • An analysis of most recent CDC data found that 22% of transgender people and 32% of transgender people of color have no health coverage. 

  • 54% of transgender people and 58% of transgender people of color have had their work hours reduced during COVID-19.  

  • 19% of transgender people and 26% of transgender people of color have become unemployed due to the pandemic.  

  • 59% of transgender people and 67% of transgender people of color are very concerned they cannot pay their bills or debt.

To address these ongoing inequities and improve vaccine access, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) in partnership with SF Bay Area LGBTQ+ COVID-19 Relief Coalition and over 20 community organizations held a Priority COVID-19 Vaccine Drive for eligible members of the TGNCI community who have been most impacted by the pandemic. To date over 300 TGNCI community members have signed up through the drive, and will be scheduled for vaccines at the SFAF health and wellness center Strut or San Francisco’s Moscone Center vaccination site. SF AIDS Foundation will be continuing to prioritize eligible TGNC residents beyond TDOV due to increased need and demand.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, TGNCI communities, primarily Black trans women, have experienced a disproportional rate of fatal violence and discriminatory legislation,” said Joaquin Meza, Trans Care Coordinator and Benefits Navigator at SF AIDS Foundation. “More than ever, it is critical that we strive for racial and health trans justice. Promoting trans vaccine equity and critical gender-based analyses of COVID-19 data ensures that our community receives resources in a timely, affirming manner.”

In addition to the actions highlighted above, the community also held a series of virtual events for International Transgender Day of Visibility in San Francisco, including "Transition of Power: TDOV 2021" on Friday, 3/26. This was an online event hosted by the TDOV Planning Committee and SF Oasis that celebrated TGNC resiliency and community accomplishments. The Transgender Pilot Program hosted San Francisco’s annual Trans Health Fair online also on Friday, March 26. The Health Fair showcased community organizations, artists, entertainers, and more!  

“Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the TGNCI communities have experienced further marginalization and increased struggles accessing essential resources and services, specifically TGNCI people of color, Black, Latinx, Pacific Islander, Indigenous, and those experiencing homelessness, disabilities, and underlying health conditions,” said Anjali Rimi, Co-chair, SF Bay Area LGBTQA+ COVID Relief Coalition. “Through the collective efforts of the Coalition, the needs of the community were addressed through emergency food and groceries, cash relief, shelter, support for LGBTQ seniors, and more. By shifting our focus to vaccine access and priority, we aim to lower the COVID-19 infection rates among TGNCI communities now and in the future. This is a remarkable effort to address vaccine equity that has thus far been evaded.”

For more information about the services offered by the SF Office of Transgender Initiatives, please visit sf.gov/transcitysf. And to learn more about how to get vaccinated against COVID-19, visit sf.gov/getvaccinated.