Transgender flag made by Johnin
A transgender pride flag flies on a flag pole for International Transgender Day of Visibility outside the Ypsilanti Police Department on Friday, March 31, 2017. Melanie Maxwell | The Ann Arbor News ANN ARBOR NEWS
ANN ARBOR, MI — Washtenaw County officials will raise the Transgender Flag at 200 N Main St. in downtown Ann Arbor in recognition of Transgender Day of Visibility, on Wednesday, March 31.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the flag raising ceremony at 9 a.m. County commissioners will speak briefly. The county is asking those who plan to attend to be mindful of COVID-19 safety protocols by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
At their last meeting, the county board of commissioners unanimously passed a resolution to recognize Transgender Day of Visibility in Washtenaw County.
Transgender Day of Visibility is an international celebration of transgender and non-binary people which helps raise awareness of the discrimination they often face. The day was founded by Michigan-based transgender activist Rachel Crandall in 2009.
“It’s so important to make sure that transgender individuals in Washtenaw County know they are living in an affirming community,” said Commissioner Katie Scott, District 9. “Flying the Transgender Pride flag every year is part of this.”
The pandemic has exacerbated the problems many within the transgender community face, as studies have shown that transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are more likely to have been laid off or had their hours reduced since the start of the pandemic, officials said.
“We know that the transgender community has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Washtenaw County Commissioner Jason Morgan.
“While our board has recognized Transgender Day of Visibility for the last several years, it’s especially important this year,” Morgan said.
This year’s Transgender Day of Visibility comes as a wave of new bills aimed at barring transgender students from playing on high school sports teams that don’t correspond to their sex assigned at birth are being introduced in state legislatures across the county.
In Michigan, Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton, recently introduced Senate Bill 218, which aims to force Michigan school districts to designate female and male sports teams and deny transgender students from trying out for teams that match their gender identity.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association has called the bill unnecessary, saying it deals with less than two transgender athlete scenarios per year on average, and its case-by-case approach is the best way to handle and discuss transgender high school athletes. LGBTQ advocates say these bills are designed to target transgender students and add to the stigmas they already face.
MHSAA says new bill targeting transgender athletes in Michigan is ‘unnecessary’
“Marking Transgender Day of Visibility is an important piece of our ongoing education and awareness of our transgender community and the issues they face in Ann Arbor and around the country,” said Ann Arbor City Council Member Travis Radina, D-3rd Ward.