Friday on the “Hello Walk,” 14 headstones commemorated a few of the 265 people who were murdered globally this year for being transgendered.
Many students walked through Memorial Mall and noticed the headstones as well as the table and two chairs that were set up for the memorial service, and asked various forms of “What’s this all about?”
The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals at Purdue observed International Transgender Day of Remembrance through the memorial service and candlelight vigil held in the same location on Thursday.
Freshman Nate Albrecht, a transgendered student, never realized the day of remembrance existed until he got to Purdue.
“I came from a really small town in Indiana where being trans isn’t really accepted or talked about at all,” Albrecht said. “Everybody I’ve met here at Purdue has been really open, accepting, and willing to learn.”
Albrecht said the candlelight vigil was reverent and a “big eye-opener.” About 20 people were in attendance, all of who read off the names of those murdered for being transgendered.
The memorial service, with only seven in attendance, began similarly to the candlelight vigil and concluded with a reading from Mario Melendez, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts.
“All these names represent lives that should still be here with us,” Melendez said. “There is far too much prejudice reinforced by misunderstanding ignorance.”
According to Melendez, the first chair represented why there is a Transgender Day of Remembrance and the second chair represented why people celebrate it.
In his reading, Melendez addressed what the two chairs and the table helped symbolize: “We are all human beings and we all have to eat ... eating doesn’t always have to be about survival ... it can lead to conversation and understanding.”
Melendez concluded his speech by saying, “In the end, we will all sit together at the table, because we are all human beings.”
When it comes to celebrating the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Albrecht said he sees it as a “necessary evil.”
“It’s tragic that we have to have this day year after year,” Albrecht said. “But everyone needs to wake up and realize that people are people.”