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Women's Lifestyle Magazine

Founder of Trans Day of Visibility to be Special Guest at Grand Rapids Event

Mar 28, 2019 02:12PM ● By WLMagazine

On March 31, Grand Rapids joins communities across the globe in celebration of Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV). Jazz McKinney sits on the board of directors of the Grand Rapids Pride Center and is the chair of the Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Advisory Committee. McKinney organized this year's TDOV event, which includes a week of activities that kicked off on March 23 and culminates in Speak Your Truth, an open mic event held on March 31 where trans and non-gender conforming individuals are encouraged to share their stories.

"We want people to gather together and talk about whatever they want to and celebrate whatever they want to celebrate," McKinney expressed. "We will also discuss the day and why it is so important."

TDoV was founded in 2009 by Rachel Crandall-Crocker, executive director and co-founder of Transgender Michigan. At the time, the transgender and non-gender conforming community only had one day on the calendar to turn attention toward issues that impact them: Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). Founded in 1999, TDoR acknowledges those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia.

"I thought, 'I wish there was a day that instead of remembering the dead, we could celebrate who we are and being alive,'" Crandall-Crocker expressed.

Rachel Crandall-Crocker, founder of Trans Day of Visibility and co-founder and executive director of Transgender Michigan

Crandall-Crocker has watched TDoV grow each year as transgender individuals become more embraced by their communities; today, it is celebrated across the globe. This year, she helped Uganda organize their TDoV event. The emotion in her voice as she reflects its impact is palpable.

"It's amazing," Crandall-Crocker expressed. "It really is hard to believe it's real. It's a legacy; I will always know that I made a difference, and there is no better feeling in the world."

Crandall-Crocker will be a special guest at Speck Your Truth. She has attended Grand Rapids' TDoV celebration in the past and praises the organizers.

"The people who do it in Grand Rapids are really the best," she said, "They celebrate it in a way I could only dream of."

Both Crandall-Crocker and McKinney encourage cis-gender individuals to attend the event to learn more about the trans and non-gender conforming community.

"We need to support each other… if we just love each other and treat each other as human beings, we can save lives," McKinney said. "It just takes one person to provide that love and support."

"Come to the events, make donations, volunteer," Crandall-Crocker expressed. "We need our allies if we want to get anywhere. We need non-trans people to contact their senators and congresspeople and say, 'Transgender people need equal rights.'"

"Speak Your Truth" takes place from 4-7 pm on March 31 at the YWCA. Click here for more information.

The Grand Rapids Pride Center provides support for transgender and non-gender conforming community members and LGBTQ Cultural and Sensitivity training for organizations and individuals. To learn more, visit grpride.or

Transgender Michigan’s primary mission is to provide advocacy, support and education while serving to create coalitions in the state of Michigan to unify and empower transgender and gender non-conformist communities. Visit for more information.