In the past year, at least 36 transgender individuals around the world were murdered for their identities.
Pride Network held an event this past Tuesday in Hirst Lounge to honor and remember these victims of transphobia.
“Often we don’t talk about this in America, but trans individuals are one of the most killed demographics, particularly trans women of color, simply because people fear them and don’t accept them,” said junior Miles Perry, the president of Pride Network. “So we host this event every year to say those names, because they deserve to be honored.”
Of those remembered, several individuals were given the name “unknown” ─ either because their often unsupportive families refused to claim the bodies or because their murders left the remains unrecognizable.
Since 1999, Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed internationally every year on Nov. 20. UR, which boasts one of the oldest Pride networks in the country, has hosted an event to commemorate the murdered members of the trans community each year since the day’s creation.
To start this year’s event, two members of No Disclaimers, a spoken word performance group, read poems. Take Five Scholar Ben Frazer read an original poem sharing their own experiences with gender identity and the dysphoria that ensues. Following that performance, Perry shared a piece titled “When You Met God,” honoring the victims.
After the performances, two students read out a list of the names of every documented murder of a trans person in the past year.
The risk of murder is not the only danger trans people must face. The staggering suicide rate, homelessness and poverty rates, and a lack of comprehensive healthcare threaten the well-being and lives of transgender individuals.
Originally, guest speaker Marie Adelina was scheduled to share her experience as a trans woman of color and being out as an adult. Adelina’s speech was supposed to be a main part of the event. Unfortunately, she was unable to attend due to the weather, shortening the event.
Attendees and organizers partook in a moment of silence for the victims. Unlike the atmosphere of most events hosted by the Pride Network, this evening honoring fallen trans people had a somber and subdued mood.
For many event-goers, it was difficult not to imagine their own name tacked on to the already too-long list of victims.
“It’s weird [hearing the names], because you have an inkling it could have been you,” first-year and attendee Edwin Brun said.
The event also hoped to make the community more visible to cisgender allies, according to the organizers.
Overall, the Day of Remembrance served to raise awareness about the challenges transgender people face every day at the University.
One such issue discussed at the event was housing. Despite the well-established network serving the LGBTQ community on campus, UR still lacks comprehensive housing for transgender students who may not feel comfortable rooming with students of the gender they were assigned at birth.
Another issue brought up was the need for improvement in University Health Services. The transgender community on campus would like to see hormone replacement therapy offered — something RIT already has.
The event reminded students of the real threats that come with being transgender.
“This is a sad event — to hear the names of all the people who identify like you being murdered,” Perry said. “I can understand why people wouldn’t come to this event, because it’s rather triggering to hear that you’re at risk for just being you.”