Ohio University

Trans* Day of Remembrance event to honor memories of trans* people

Published: November 14, 2019 Author: George E. Mauzy Jr.

According to the Human Rights Campaign website, at least 22 transgender people have already died in 2019 due to violence.

To bring attention to this disturbing fact and search for a solution, the Ohio University LGBT Center will host the Trans* Day of Remembrance at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20 at the Baker University Center fourth floor atrium (in front of the Women’s Center).

The event is held each year to honor the transgender people who were killed that year due to anti-transgender prejudice. It was created in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, who coordinated a vigil to commemorate Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was stabbed to death in her apartment in Boston on Nov. 28, 1998.

The Trans* Day of Remembrance culminates Transgender Awareness Week, which takes place Nov. 13-19 this year. The week allows transgender people to share their stories and promote public advocacy around the issues of violence, prejudice and discrimination.

Until this year, the LGBT Center hosted a vigil outside Memorial Auditorium or inside Galbreath Chapel to honor the lives of the transgender people who were killed. However, this year’s event will be held inside Baker University Center.

Micah McCarey, interim director of the LGBT Center, explained the change.

“This year, our LGBT Center has the good fortune of supporting a group of graduate and undergraduate students who are committed to the prosperity of people who identify as transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, and/or otherwise trans*," McCarey said. "These students, along with Dr. Theo Hutchinson, provided the LGBT Center staff with invaluable input about what they’d like to experience as part of this year’s Trans* Day of Remembrance."

The featured speakers include Dr. Hutchinson, associate professor of critical studies in the Patton College of Education, and student Tiffany Anderson, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major.

Dr. Hutchinson will present the history and purpose of the Trans* Day of Remembrance and make a call to action.

"For trans* lives to be protected, we need those of you who identify as allies to do more than hit a Facebook ‘like’ or an ‘angry’ button on trans issues," Dr. Hutchinson said. "We need you to walk this walk with us. Allies need to be actively working on trans* issues even when we're not around you."

Anderson will talk about the troubling silence around the death of trans* people and explain why the Trans* Day of Remembrance is important.

“It’s important because it puts into perspective for those outside of the community how much work trans* people have to do and it’s also a time to celebrate the lives of Trans* folks and be there for one another,” Anderson said.

A reading of the names of trans* people who were recently murdered along with a display of their photos will take place at the fourth-floor atrium. 

Ser Spinelli, a senior ceramics and media arts and studies major, created six pride flags that will be on display in Baker Center, Nov. 18-24. The Avon Lake, Ohio, native explained their significance.

“Each of the six flags represent a different trans* identity – transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer, genderfluid, agender and intersex,” Spinelli said. “Pride flags are a vital means of self-empowerment and visibility for LGBT+ identities and their use in public spaces is a symbol of respect, community empowerment, public acknowledgement and support.”

Spinelli said he hopes the flags engage viewers by creating an opportunity for public or private discussions about trans* identities and issues.

“For trans* students specifically, I want my work to make them feel visible and empowered, and know that they are respected,” Spinelli said.

The event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be available.