MRU hosted Transgender Day of Remembrance for 20th anniversary
By Ryleigh Stangness, Staff Writer
Wednesday, Nov. 20 marked the 20th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance in honour of 2,982 known transgender people who died as the result of transphobic violence worldwide from January 2008 to September 2018.
Elliott Kozuch, on the Human Rights Campaign website, wrote, “These victims are not numbers — they were people with hopes and plans, dreams for the future, loved ones and communities who will miss them every day.”
The Pride Centre, located in Wyckham House, hosted an event to honour the lives of transgender and two-spirit individuals who were lost this past year to transphobic violence.
Attendants participated in the opening ceremony and a smudge and prayer, then walked from the Campus Equity and Meaningful Inclusion room (C201) through campus to Wyckham House.
In honour of the individuals who were lost to transphobic violence this past year, their names were displayed on the second floor.
Nathan Lawley, Vice-President Academic participated in SAMRU’s Transgender Day of Remembrance walk and is in charge of compiling the list to be displayed, which includes “the person’s name, age, date of death, and location – omitting the causes of death so that people can attend the event without reading about the horrifying ways people kill others due to transgender discrimination.”
“Transgender Day of Remembrance brings attention to crimes that are committed daily against transgender people and the real-life cost of anti-transgender violence in the form of human lives,” explains Lawley. “Transgender Day of Remembrance allows us to enumerate the problem, acknowledging that the true number of human lives taken by anti-transgender violence is not known due to a lack of reporting.
“[Transgender Day of Remembrance] offers a chance for people to remember and honour those who have been killed. It is essentially a funeral for folks who have been murdered throughout the year as a result of anti-transgender violence.”
Notably, Lawley mentions, “the Transgender Day of Remembrance list traditionally does not include those who have died by suicide as a result of anti-transgender discrimination, and the numbers reported are not accurate; the number is likely much higher than what is commonly referred to.”
Lawley explains Transgender Day of Remembrance began at MRU as a student initiative in 2015.
“A group of students … wanted to host a [Transgender Day of Remembrance] event for students on campus, asked SAMRU for assistance and the SAMRU Pride Centre has since been continuing to host the annual event.
Lawley says nearly every transgender person experiences anti-trans discrimination and physical, verbal or emotional/psychological violence.
Lawley hopes this event will offer, “community and support to those transgender people still left standing and living and raise awareness of the crimes that are committed worldwide, by systems and individuals.”