Why Trans Day of Snack’s Bite-Sized Mutual Aid Matters

"If we don't want visibility on Trans Day of Visibility, what do we actually want?"

You’ve surely heard of Transgender Day of Visibility, but have you heard of Trans Day of Having a Nice Snack?

A mutual aid campaign run by Oregon-based journalist and Gender Reveal podcaster Tuck Woodstock, Trans Day of Snack began where many things do: on Twitter. Woodstock had experience organizing and distributing mutual aid funds through Gender Reveal’s eponymous grant program and merch store, so they were already planning to do something for trans people on Trans Day of Visibility (March 31), but a tweet from a friend jokingly proposing “trans day of staying in and having a nice snack” solidified their idea.

“That was just rattling around in my brain,” they tell NewNowNext. “I was trying to do something to make Trans Day of Visibility more bearable for trans people. In 2021, we actually don’t need visibility; visibility is actively harming us. So if we don’t want visibility on Trans Day of Visibility, what do we actually want?”

Woodstock tweeted out the first call for donations from cisgender people on Tuesday, March 29. Trans folks were able to register to receive funds via a Google Form. (Unlike most of Woodstock’s previous mutual aid work, Trans Day of Snack wasn’t need-based. “I don’t care if you can afford your own snack,” they tweeted on March 31. “Let me Venmo you for a lil treat! Being trans and visible is hard and you deserve it.”) In the week since, Woodstock and their small team of volunteers have raised $27,435 and sent digital “snack payments” to more than 1,000 trans people around the world.

If snack money seems incongruous with Trans Day of Visibility, that is by design. Celebrating “visibility” can be meaningful to some trans and gender non-conforming folks — particularly those who are newly out, as Woodstock notes — but it is not a substitute for material support. This is especially true for trans people, who are disproportionately more likely than cis folks to lack basic resources like safe housing or stable employment.

In many cases, visibility without structural support or protection “is just danger,” says Woodstock: “Being visibly trans can get you hate crimed, fired from your job, denied housing, kicked out of various cultural institutions.”

They point to the recent uptick in anti-transgender legislation in the United States. Prior to the last decade, there wasn’t a cultural conversation around trans people and gender identity the way there is today. There also weren’t Republicans lawmakers in more than 25 states across the country gunning to pass different bills that harm trans people. “Because of this rise in trans visibility,” they add, “we’ve also had a rise in active transphobia culturally. There wouldn’t be dozens and dozens of anti-trans bills if there wasn’t a cultural awareness of trans people.”

Mutual aid projects like Trans Day of Snack aren’t new, nor are they unique to queer and trans communities. After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., community-led mutual aid networks saw a resurgence in many towns and cities around the country, including New York and Los Angeles.

“It became really clear during the pandemic that our government was not interested in keeping us alive,” Woodstock says. “And we have no reason to think that the government has our interest at heart because they never have before, speaking specifically about and trans people, people of color, disabled people, sex workers, et cetera. … So the only thing we have is each other. When we can’t work inside of systems to stay alive, we have to work outside of systems to keep each other alive.”

At the time of writing, Woodstock is still in the process of paying out nearly 200 additional mutual aid requests from trans people, with priority going to BIPOC, Asian, and Latinx recipients. But they did carve out some time on March 31 to enjoy a nice Boba tea gifted by a cis friend. “I very much let myself indulge — like, ’Oh, I’ve been looking at spreadsheets for the last six hours,'” they recall. “’I am going to tell you where I want the Boba to be from and what I want, and you can bring it to me.'”

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.
@_sammanzella