Celebration of life and loss in transgender community

Transgender Day of Remembrance raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people. The actual day of the remembrance is Friday, Nov. 20, but Allegheny will be recognizing the day on Saturday, Nov. 21. Queers and Allies hopes to celebrate the lives rather than to mourn the deaths.

Connor Racine, ’16, president of Queers and Allies, shared the importance of the event Queers and Allies will be hosting.

“Transgender Day of Remembrance is a national event that is set to honor the lives of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals who are victims of violence and victims that have been killed,” said Racine. “It’s sort of a day to remember those lives that have been lost and also those lives who have been endangered.”

Racine said in some cases the celebration of the day is more about the bravery of individuals rather than remembering the violence.

“It is not just about being a victim of violence about transitioning and about being rejected by society, sometimes it’s about being really dedicated to your life and celebrating what that means for people,” said Racine.

Queers and Allies will hold a candlelight vigil to acknowledge those who identify as transgender that have died. There will be a moment of silence to honor their memory. An open dialogue for the community will be held at the end of the event so people can share their thoughts. This year a gathering will be held in addition to the vigil.

“We will officially have an event at the house afterwards, we’ll be offering pizza which is a convenient excuse for people to come back and be in that space as a community,” Racine said. “We’re emphasizing that celebration, focusing on the positive energy of community and togetherness.”

The atmosphere of the vigil tends to lean towards the heavy side Racine explained. Queers and Allies wants to acknowledge the tragedy of the deaths but also the celebration of the lives that were lived.

“It takes a lot out of you to really grapple with the fact that so many people are victims of this kind of violence,” said Racine. “It can be really important to be around people you love and who care about you after that kind of emotional rawness.”

Racine wants to put emphasis on healthy healing for community members during the event.

“I hope that the vigil is a place of mourning but also a place of healing and togetherness,” said Racine. “I think we hear about a lot of scattered acts of violence, but by bringing them together we can process violence as a whole and process those feelings of fear, loss and grief together in a more healthy way.”

Cara Brosius, ’16, major events coordinator for Queers and Allies, recognized the importance of the event and the effect of transphobia.

“I went to the vigil last year and it’s just a moving experience,” said Brosius. “A lot of people get very emotional, especially those who are trans or have trans friends because it really effects them to know there is such a long list of people who have died just the past year. It’s just a very difficult experience for everybody.”

KJ Sweet, ’16, vice president of Queers and Allies, acknowledged the clubs’ presence at Allegheny.

“We are really the only queer organization on campus, and we are called Queers and Allies and I think people sometimes think that it’s just for gay people,” said Sweet. “There are definitely trans and queer identities that intersect a lot, but sometimes they don’t so we want to make sure that Q&A covers the entire LGBTQIA+ spectrum.”

Sweet emphasized the importance for students on campus to recognize the struggles transgender students and the LGBT community goes through.

“The issues in the world at large still affect people on this campus,” said Sweet. “We are in a bubble in a way, but with our social media and access to information, what happens in the outside world affects us.”

The vigil will be held in Ford Chapel on Saturday, Nov. 21 from 4 to 5 p.m. with a gathering. Following the vigil, pizza will be served at the Queers and Allies house. The house is located at 382 East College St.

Additional comments, questions and concerns can be sent to Connor Racine’s Allegheny email.

More information about the national day can be found at http://tdor.info/.