One way to honor those who are no longer with us is by telling their story for them, which the Queer Science Technology Engineering Math organization aimed to do with Trans Remembrance Day on Wednesday.
Trans Remembrance Day has been observed since 1999 following the passing of Rita Hester, a transgender African American woman. TRD has been observed at Purdue for the last seven years and has been organized by QSTEM, formerly known as the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals.
The organization held a vigil at at 5:30 p.m. in Beering Hall, Room 1255 on Wednesday.
“Trans Remembrance Day is a day to reflect and think about all the violence against trans people and the trans people who lost their lives over the past year,” said Luna Renee, the outgoing president of QSTEM. “It’s the day we remember those we lost, but I also remind myself that I’m still here and that I need to keep fighting for transparency and inclusiveness.”
Renee also mentioned how important it is for people who are still here today to not take their safety for granted and honor those who have already lost and fought.
“The point of the event is to bring attention to the violence that happens to trans people, specifically those who lost their lives to transphobic or transmisogynistic violence,” said Theodore Sorg, the incoming president of QSTEM.
Sorg said there have been several hate crimes ignored by the media and TRD's objective is to make sure that the lives lost were not in vain and are not ignored.
Another thing Sorg and Renee pointed out was that there were many cases where trans people were buried under the wrong name or were misgendered by their families in their obituaries. By reading out people's correct names at Purdue's local event, they aimed to honor them and make sure those people are not forgotten.
“A number of the people who passed away are, and have been throughout the years, trans women of color,” Sorg said. “A lot of the times they’re also sex workers, and people do not treat them nicely. So when they are killed, because of transphobic violence, people pass it off by saying, ‘They’re one of those.’”
They said people shouldn’t pass off a trans death with callousness.
The vigil began with opening remarks by Sorg, followed by the reading of names of the people lost this year. This was followed by an art therapy session.
Sorg mentioned that people will be referred to both on- and off-campus resources so that they know that they are not alone. They also mentioned the Trevor Project, a hotline aimed at providing a safe space for members of the LGBTQ community to talk freely to trained counselors.
“The best way a non-member can show support is just showing up or even just listening to what a friend has to say," Sorg said. "Even if they say something that’s upsetting them, just listening to them and deferring to them can be just what they need.”