“Just as we come together as a community for times of joy, it is important to hold space in reverence and memorialize the lives of trans folks we have lost too soon.”
Clark is honoring and remembering lives lost to anti-trans violence with a vigil and time for fellowship this week.
The Office of Identity, Student Engagement, and Access (ISEA) and student organization PRISM have organized the Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil, which will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16, in the Fireside Lounge at Dana Commons. ISEA and PRISM invite the community to come together to memorialize lives lost to hate and transphobia across the world. There will be time for fellowship over food following the vigil.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is recognized internationally on Nov. 20. Because that date typically falls on Thanksgiving week, when fewer people are on campus, Clark holds its vigil the week prior.
“The death rates of trans individuals, and specifically trans women of color, are high in countries across the world due to anti-trans violence, ideas of hate, discrimination, or transphobia,” says E. Tejada III, ISEA’s associate director for gender and sexuality. “Just as we come together as a community for times of joy, it is important to hold space in reverence and memorialize the lives of trans folks we have lost too soon.”
Gwendolyn Ann Smith started Transgender Day of Remembrance in 1999 in memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman of color who lived in Massachusetts and was killed in November 1998. Each year since, the solemn — but important — tradition has included vigils around the world to remember all trans people lost to violence and advocate for a world free of hate.
“The notion of remembering our dead reaches into places that those few who gathered in 1999 could hardly have envisioned,” Smith wrote in a 2012 Huffington Post article. “We’ve seen a much greater awareness of the issue of anti-transgender violence. We’ve seen successes in other battles for transgender rights.
“Yet we still see anti-transgender violence. Every year, we still find ourselves with a list of people who have been violently murdered for simply being themselves.”
At least 25 transgender and gender nonconforming people have been killed through violent means thus far in 2023, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Black transgender women are disproportionately impacted by this violence, the Human Rights Campaign reports, comprising 52% of the lives lost in 2023.
Smith has asked people to continue remembering and advocating beyond Nov. 20.
“We should be working every day for all of us,” she wrote, “living and dead.”