It was only a few months ago when the Montclair community came together on Transgender Day of Remembrance to honor the 57 lives lost that year. 

Barely 24 hours before that internationally recognized day, Nov. 20, a horrific attack was carried out on an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado in which five people were killed and 25 injured. 

Though First Lutheran Church of Montclair was filled with mourning during the remembrance ceremonies, there was also an overwhelming amount of love and acceptance that brought residents together that evening.

Now, the community will celebrate its first Transgender Day of Visibility on Saturday, April 1. The event will take place at Union Congregational Church from 1 to 6 p.m. 

The Rev. Katrina Forman, minister of the church, said, “Transgender Day of Visibility is more a day of celebration, and connection, alongside trying to connect some support and resources that are available in the community.

“It’s a day of celebration for those to come together with joy for who transgender folks are and all that they bring to the world.” 

The event will be hosted by Out Montclair and will include food trucks, a DJ and a special appearance by transgender comedian Jaye McBride. 

Alongside these activities, Out Montclair plans to host panel discussions led by local transgender activists and workshops centered on the transgender experience. Classes, like “How to Tuck,”
“How to Bind and Pack” and “How to Be a Better Ally,” will be offered at the event. 

Celeste Fiore, an Out Montclair board member and chair and founder of the Trans Affirming Alliance, said: “We, as humans, we crave in-person, social community connection, where we feel like we belong. And I think that online spaces have been a primary mode for trans people to find information about one another and about themselves. 

“And to kind of bring that same sense of joy or just the possibility that in real life there are people who are talking about bodies like yours, and how, you know, they've dealt with them.” 

Participants at the event can also partake in a photo shoot called "The Real Me," where they can have professional affirming photos taken of themselves.

Though this is Montclair’s first time hosting a celebration of Transgender Day of Visibility, the event was started in 2009 by Rachel Crandall, a transgender activist, psychotherapist and executive director of Transgender Michigan. 

Forman said she wished that events to commemorate the day could have been held in previous years but that she also felt the timing is right due to the rise in hate in the last few years against the transgender community. 

With legislation being passed in some states that targets transgender people, Forman said she felt the need to respond fervently with support and celebration. 

Pete Yacobellis, township councilman and executive director of Out Montclair, said: “All over America, we’re seeing trans, nonbinary and gender-fluid people being targeted for blatant discrimination and in a way that creates real harm and danger for them. Out Montclair is proud to stand as a beacon for these beautiful souls and not just create safe spaces, but also do more to support better quality of life.”

Out Montclair is a nonprofit organization that aims to support the LGBTQ+ community. Since its inception it has been responsible for creating Montclair’s first Pride Festival, which last year brought together more than 14,000 people for a day of music, food and acceptance. 

For Forman it’s important that Union Congregational Church provide a safe space for the Transgender Day of Visibility to bridge the gap between religious communities and the LGBTQ+ community. 

“So many of the attacks on transgender rights and the humanity of transgender people have been coming from the Christian right in recent years,” she said. “And so I think it's especially important for those of us who are Christian to affirm the humanity and divinity of transgender people and others to be really vocal and visible about that.”