Each year on March 31, transgender people and their loved ones celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility, honoring trans and gender expansive people across the globe.
In Akron, organizers are planning a joyful and accessible experience for trans Ohioans of all ages at The Well CDC, a community non-profit in the city’s historic Middlebury neighborhood.
In its second year, the event is set to honor the city’s vibrant trans, non-binary and gender expansive community with the support of nearly one dozen community partners — including Equitas Health, Akron AIDS Collaborative, Akron Children’s Hospital and Margie’s Hope.
“Last year, we had no idea what to expect,” said Danilelle Shultz, planning committee member and mother of 16-year-old fellow committee member Cyrus Shultz. “This year, thanks to our sponsorships we were able to up our game a little.”
Finding trans community
Two years after Cyrus came out as trans at the age of 12, he and his family moved to the Akron area.
Right away, Danielle found community among the parents of other trans kids via Margie’s Hope, a non-profit founded by Akronite and longtime trans rights advocate Jacob Nash in 2011.
She became a regular volunteer at Margie’s Closet — the organization’s Cleveland non-profit resale shop designed specifically for trans and gender expansive people — where she met fellow TDOV planning committee member Jordyn Stevenson.
“I moved to Akron from Houston, Texas, in 2021,” Stevenson said. “I went to Margie’s Closet and Danielle was there and told me about her kids and her work. I was there with my parents. It was just one of those special bonding moments. I think she actually gave me her phone number that day.”
Embracing trans joy
A logistics analyst for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Stevenson also serves as communications and marketing chair of the Goodyear Pride Network.
Last year, he joined the inaugural TDOV planning committee, and said he’s thrilled to see the growth in community support for trans people over the last year.
“I came out as an adult, so for me, high school, middle school, it’s really cool to see them just be themselves and be trans,” Stevenson said.
Cyrus — who is attending college-level courses at the University of Akron — works as a planning committee alongside his mom.
Amidst a growing wave of anti-transgender sentiment and legislation, he says leaning into the joyful parts of transgender peoples’ lives and experiences is more important now than ever.
“Yeah, I can dress ‘masculine,’ but I have a pair of platform Doc Marten boots I just can’t wear everywhere,” Cyrus said. “Wearing sparkling eyeliner and nail polish? I can’t do that everywhere.”
“Just being able to go to a place and be myself [is exciting],” he added. “Any time you leave the house, you’re asking ‘How visible can I be? How much of a risk is it to be who I am?’ I’m excited to see other trans people living joyous lives and celebrating each other’s existence.”
What to expect at Akron TDOV
Organizers have hired private, credentialed security to monitor the event, which is both ADA accessible and set to include a designated sensory space.
Attendees will have access to private wellness care and HIV testing via Equitas Health mobile team. Food, snacks, gender affirming clothing and other community resource information will also be available thanks to Kappa Beta Kappa, Plexus LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, CANAPI and other sponsors.
Members of the Akron Fire Department are also set to attend the event in a display of support for trans and gender expansive Akronites.
“To me, the different organizations collaborating shows tangible support. But people are also feeling the strain. They need a break from the negativity,” Danielle said.
Which is why committee members designed the event with creativity, community and fun in mind.
The event will feature art tables with painting and drawing activities, a graffiti wall and an open mic where attendees can sign up to perform everything from spoken-word poetry to stand-up comedy routines.
‘As a community, we’re strong’
15 planning committee members from 9 different community organizations will also present a series of community awards, honoring ordinary trans and gender expansive people doing extraordinary work in their daily lives.
“What makes this a special event is that we’re focused on the whole Akron trans community,” she added. “We’re celebrating regular people, and we want them to feel appreciated.”
“I hope people walk away with hope for the future, and the knowledge that, as a community, we’re strong and we can live good lives,” said Cyrus. “Especially right now, it’s just so important to see each other being happy.” 🔥
- For updates, RSVPs and volunteer applications for Akron Trans Day of Visibility Celebration, click here.
- For more information, visit Akron Trans Day of Visibility Celebration online here.
- For more information about LGBTQ+ non-profit Margie’s Hope, click here.
Know something LGBTQ+ Ohioan we should cover? TELL US!
Submit a story!