On Tuesday night, students at the University of Connecticut’s Rainbow Center spoke about transgender violence at a candlelight memorial mourning those lost to violence against transgender individuals.
The ceremony opened with a slideshow which featured the names and countries of transgender individuals who were killed because of their trans identities.
The event was organized by the Center Driven Committee at the Rainbow Center, whose mission is to serve “the University of Connecticut’s diverse community of gender identities, gender expressions, and romantic and sexual orientations,” according to their website. ()
Taylore Grunert, a seventh-semester English and ecology and evolutionary biology double major, delivered a speech and conducted the ceremony.
“Love can, and will triumph over hate. We have to believe this. But it is up to us to send this message,” Grunert said. “No one can do it for us. By being here tonight, we are making a difference. By being visible, here and now, and taking a stand against transgender violence, we can begin to create a world that we so desperately need.”
Following his speech, Grunert read aloud the names of victims murdered in the last year because of their transgender identities. A brief moment of silence was observed afterwards.
Grunert then opened the floor to participants to share their own thoughts and feelings on the matter.
Mar Amador, fifth-semester human development and family studies major, thanked attendees for coming.
“I identify as non-binary, and I’ve struggled with identity, confidence, and feeling accepted,” Amador said. “Although I’ve overcome that tremendously, having so many people in this room remembering the lives we’ve lost, showing true allyship, means a lot to me.”
In a discussion following the ceremony, fifth-semester human development and family studies major Lucas Brunt remarked on the importance of trans visibility.
“In order to make [the list of victims on] Trans Day of Remembrance smaller, we have to make Trans Day of Visibility bigger,” Brunt said, referring to March 31, the day honoring the validity of transgender individuals in the world. “In order to do this, we need to make society more educated and help understand the issue without simply talking about death rates.”
Transgender Day of Remembrance “honors the memory of those murdered in acts of anti-transgender violence, [and] is recognized annually on Nov. 20,” according to the website for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The observance of the day was pushed a week later to accommodate Thanksgiving recess in UConn’s case.
The ceremony concluded with the hanging of an affirmation wreath, upon which participants posted inspirational messages and quotes. The wreath will hang in the lobby of the Rainbow Center until the end of the semester.
Grunert concluded on an uplifting note.
“For all those in doubt, I want to say this, and I need to say this. You matter, and you are loved. Your identity is valid, and it is important and deserving of respect,” Grunert said. “Trans identities are valid and they are deserving of respect. You are worthy of dignity and love. Love is the most radical form of resistance there is. We must believe that.”
Penina Beede is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Penina.Beede@uconn.edu.