Dove Standley: Being seen on a ‘Day of Visibility’

Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, April 3, 2024

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Dove Standley

Dove Standley

March 31, the International Transgender Day of Visibility since 2009, uplifts the lives of Transgender people. As that was this past weekend, I’d like to give insight on the experiences of some real transgender lives in Farmville. I’ve struggled to find an accurate way to make us “visible” while only discussing positives to celebrate. Raw, and uncomfortable truths will have to suffice. Content warning: this piece references bullying, death, threats of violence, and self harm. Please, set discomfort aside and see us. We’ve always been here. We’ll always be here. If you haven’t noticed before, now’s your chance. 


They’ve changed names and pronouns more than a few times. People tease them for this. They’re hoping to find something that feels right, but it’s hard to feel euphoria, when the people around you mock you for it. They’re unsure if they’re genderfluid, genderchaos, or simply lost. They can’t seem to get the validation they need to feel at peace with themself. However, I’ve seen brief moments when they’ve had it, the effect it had on them was beautiful to witness. They are exceptional. 

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She was known for endless discussions and infectious laughter. Her online presence was larger than life, and she had a meme ready for any occasion. She was willing to share anything, no matter how personal the question or how taboo the topic. In fact, the more taboo, the better. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who was more of a woman, and she was as much a mother figure to the woman I am today, as my birth mother. She is irreplaceable. 


She skips from the dressing room wearing a dress she found in a clothing exchange, face beaming. She spins around as the fabric twirls with her. It’s obvious she loves the dress. This clothing exchange is run for free by the local Pride organization. When her mother comes to pick her up, she’s happy her child found something that makes her feel beautiful; but reminds her of potential scrutiny once she leaves the event. Her mom hates reacting with fear, but it comes from a place of concern. She says she doesn’t care, shrugs her shoulders, and sets out into the world wearing her new dress. She is radiant. 


He thought he lost his love of art and motivation to make things in art school, but he’s recently converted an unused bedroom into a studio full of materials and works in progress. His art is for him alone, and it brings him joy again. He earned a reputation as a brilliant farrier, and a successful trans business owner, but had to shutter his business when chronic pain made the work intolerable. He has a desk job now, but can help at a rescue once a week thanks to a successful back surgery. He’s not pain-free, but he’s out of the wheelchair for now and hopeful. He is unstoppable. 


She’s burnt out and stepping away from roles she was proud of. She remembers what it feels like to want to take the “off ramp” from life, but she’s got more exciting destinations ahead and each step forward leads to bigger possibilities. Her rainbow mailbox was vandalized and destroyed twice, and thinly-veiled death threats from Farmville locals made towards her don’t surprise her anymore. She refuses to be intimidated. She always carries some form of self-protection now, but never lets fear keep her from living life. She’s polyamorous and dating’s been difficult as a rural, polyamorous, transgender woman, and she missed out on the dating experiences many women fondly reminisce over. She longs to meet someone who makes her feel beautiful as a woman, without questioning whether those affirmations are influenced by the unconditional love of a decade-long marriage. She’s self-conscious about the stubble she feels on her face, and her shoulders being “too broad” for a woman, but she shines on the dance floor. She longs for motherhood, despite knowing that she will never carry a pregnancy herself, financial limitations aside. Instead, she loves and nurtures her community, in Farmville, and throughout the world. She hopes being someone people look to for support will fill the maternal void in her heart. She is me. 

You’ve had a glimpse of our truest selves. You’ve read our hopes, dreams and perspectives. You now have the opportunity to see and accept your neighbors for who they truly are. You can give us a chance to be our best selves. You might find that you like this version of us better too. 

Every subject featured in this column gave their consent for publication. 

DOVE STANDLEY is a Cumberland resident, a community organizer, and an activist focused on Healthcare and LGBTQ+ needs. She can be contacted at