Community members gather to remember murdered transgenders

Clare Lemke, assistant director of the LGBT Student Services Center, speaks about the ground rules for the Trans Day of Remembrance event Monday evening the Memorial Union. The event was held as a gathering to mourn the lives of transgender persons lost, and to raise awareness about the losses. The event was community focused, and included multiple small group discussions about the tragedies. 

Ellen Bombela

About 50 students, administrators, faculty and community members gathered Monday evening in the Campanile Room at the Memorial Union for the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The event started with a brief speech from Brad Freihoefer, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Student Services. Freihoefer explained what the goal of the evening was.

“We planned this event not as a presentation where we talk to you, but as a community dialogue where we can mourn together and work together to make our community safer for, and more inclusive of, trans people,” Freihoefer said. “Tonight we will memorialize individuals who lost their lives because of anti-transgender violence.”

Clare Lemke, Student Service specialist, then gave a brief speech about a few ground rules for the evening.

Some of the ground rules Lemke talked about included self-care, respecting and believing each other and avoiding misgendering and outing.

After the initial speeches were given, the audience was broken up into small groups. Each small group was given a card with a name of a transgender that was murdered within the past year.

The cards included the personal stories of victims, including information about them, their murder and other information. Groups were then asked to volunteer to share their victim’s story with the large group, and their feelings they had after learning more about the person.

After the discussion ended, the memorial portion of the event began. About 80 names of those who had been murdered within the past year were read off by volunteers, along with their cause of death and location. The reading of the names was followed by a moment of silence.

To end the event, small groups were asked to come up with ways they could take action to help support transgender people and end the violence against them. Some of the groups’ ideas included spreading awareness, having positive media, educating people about transgender people and creating safe spaces.

“I don’t have a lot of education about gender issues,” said Andy Hittenmiller, junior in sociology, after the event. “I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. The information provided tonight and everything just makes me think that the issue is even bigger than what is provided here. It feels like this is just the tip of the iceberg about how many things are under-reported.”