Transgender Day of Visibility: “The Trans List” Screening


Laverne Cox, Caitlin Jenner and Amos Mac share their stories in the HBO documentary “The Trans List.” (Timothy Greenfield-Sanders/Courtesy HBO)


On March 31, many Fordham students acknowledged the holiday of “Transgender Day of Visibility,” promoting acceptance of all transgender individuals throughout the world. In celebration, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’20 student Kiley Campbell decided to host a screening of “The Trans List,” an HBO documentary featuring several large figures in the transgender community. The screening was held in the McKeon Residence Hall 16th floor movie lounge on March 30, where Campbell and her RA, Dillon Rebock FCLC ’18, co-hosted and encouraged McKeon residents to attend and stay afterwards for an informative discussion.

The documentary featured famous transgender figures like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox, but also included some less well-known members of the trans community that had inspirational stories that otherwise may not have received recognition by the public.

“I think it’s a really good representation of voices you don’t necessarily hear,” Campbell said. “It’s so easy to get your perception of trans people from just Caitlyn Jenner… or Gigi Gorgeous… that’s what’s good about this. It’s different people in different walks of life that all have that common factor and experience… it’s that at a base level that’s so cool about it for me.”

One transgender man that had a particularly notable story that most of the public is probably not familiar with is Shane Ortega. Ortega was an Army Sergeant who was assigned the female sex at birth. He knew from a young age that he was not truly female, and continued to live his life as a man serving in the army. However, Ortega faced several obstacles to his trans identity throughout his years of service, as he technically was registered as a female and was often forced to wear female clothing that made him feel uncomfortable. This story of overcoming adversity and becoming a hero of the transgender community is something that this documentary  brought to light that may have otherwise stayed in the dark for many.

“[Ortega]… I couldn’t even imagine. They made him wear a dress because he’s [technically] recognized as a woman? That’s crazy,” Rebock said. “That’s not something that you think about. I couldn’t imagine someone making me go against what my gender identity is because that’s just what is says on a card. That’s mind blowing.”

Another strong transgender figure included in the documentary that many may not be familiar with is Bamby Salcedo. Salcedo is the founder of the “TransLatin@ Coalition,” an organization that works to protect transgender Latin American immigrants in the United States. She made great changes for the trans community, which is grounds for her to be well recognized by the public.

However, as Campbell said earlier, society mostly just recognizes Trans people like Caitlyn Jenner and Gigi Gorgeous— those with enough money and a platform of their own. But these individuals and their stories are not necessarily representative of the entire trans community and their experiences. That is why a documentary like “The Trans List” is so valuable, as it promoted an awareness of the lives and struggles transgender people have to go through, even today.

For Transgender Day of Visibility, it is important to take some time to think about the struggles faced by thousands of individuals all around the world about their gender identities. But all throughout the year, we should make it a point to bring this information sources like “The TransList” provide into our everyday lives, allowing for conscientiousness and possibility for change.

“So now after seeing this documentary and talking a little bit… where do we go from here?” Rebock asked. “What can we do as active and supportive members of our Fordham community, New York community, world community, to make change?” This is an excellent question, and something we all need to keep in mind. Now that we’re aware of the issues faced by the transgender community, what can we do to make a difference?

The answer is found in our everyday lives. The more you keep an open mind and surround yourself with different people with different stories, the more able you should be to make a change. And with the celebration of Transgender Day of Visibility and events promoting it growing on the Fordham campus, we are slowly moving toward a more inclusive community for anyone who struggles with their gender identity.