The SMSU Pride Center held the Transgender week of Remembrance on Nov.13 to Nov. 17. The event was hosted by Devin Almond, a student assistant at the Pride Center and an out trans man.
Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender woman founded the Transgender Day of Remembrance in 1999, to memorialize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts.
International Transgender Day of Remembrance, has continued every year on Nov. 20, dedicated to acknowledging all of the trans men and women who have lost their lives.
“People have this idea that being trans is a new thing. The difference now is we are visible, embracing the courage and bravery it takes to talk about being trans. To admit there we’re trans. The spike in invisibility is what’s causing the spike in murders and it’s almost like a punishment for being visible and being who you are now,” stated Almond.
The event helps raise public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people. Rather than one day of remembrance, the Pride Center decided to dedicate a whole week.
“There are many cases of being transgender, so it does not always mean you were born in the wrong body. Many people can be gender fluid. Being trans is how you identify as a person, not your orientation. It is your identity, so it depends on how you want to identify,” explained student programmer in the Pride Center Naomi Salcido.
The whole week consisted of a memorial display with a video slideshow on the SMSU wall that featured the faces, names, ages, and place and day of death of all the transgender and gender nonconforming people murdered in this calendar year.
For putting the video wall slideshow Almond went looking for people’s names, the places that they were murdered, how old they were, and what happened to them. According to him, in articles written in their local towns, they’re misgendered, or their dead named.
“One of our victims was a trans man who was maybe 19 years old in Pennsylvania, and they used the wrong gender for him. They used the wrong name for him. They referred to him as a suspect in his own shooting; he was shot by a local authority. The things that happen after we die, we can’t control them, but can you imagine living your whole life afraid to be who you are and even after you die, you don’t get that respect,” said Almond.
For the vigil in the Pride Center, students gathered in a circle with flameless LED candles shaped in a heart to read the names of those who were murdered and talk about the significance of their lives.
Bailey Shumretier, another student programmer in the Pride Center said, “I attended the event because I, myself, am part of the trans community so it’s something that’s important to me.”
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice; its purpose is to give everyone a chance to step forward together.
According to Almond, it’s easy for people to attend queeraoke (queer karaoke), where 90 to 100 people participate. The vigil was not one of such events.
He believes that this is the problem.
“People not in queer community or people who aren’t allies to the queer community attend those types [popular and entataining] of queer events. They go to gay clubs and drag nights; they love that part of our culture, heritage, and identity. But when it’s time to show up for those of us who have been murdered, where are they? That’s what this event is about, recognizing that you can’t just be there for the fun stuff that we do and the things we do that make you feel like it’s a naughty thing to attend. Show up for our lives, for those of us who have been murdered, for the people who were brave enough to be themselves and were punished for it,” commented Devin almond.