Two ceremonies organized by a number of East Carolina University organizations will be held on Nov. 17 to honor lives lost in the country and around the world due to anti-transgender violence.
Senior Associate Director of Intercultural Affairs and Director of the Dr. Jesse R. Peel LGBTQ Center Mark Rasdorf said the two Transgender Day of Remembrance Ceremonies will be held at noon in the Health Sciences Campus Student Center and at 5:30 p.m. in the Green Room of the Croatan.
While ECU is participating in the observance on Nov. 17 to allow more students and guests to join, Transgender Day of Remembrance is internationally recognized with its official date on Nov. 20, Rasdorf said.
“Transgender Day of Remembrance is an annual commemoration that started in 1999 when a woman named Gwendolyn Smith created a ceremony to honor the life of her friend Rita Hester, who was a trans woman who was murdered in San Fransisco,” Rasdorf said.
There will be food provided at the end, Rasdorf said, and students must RSVP for the ceremonies on Engage since. There will be multiple speakers, Rasdorf said, including Teaching Assistant Professor Faye Knickerbocker, and the names of people who have lost their lives in the U.S. over the last year to anti-trans violence will be read.
Interim Program Coordinator of the Peel center Rose Bogue who goes by they/them pronouns said Transgender Remembrance Day is about honoring the victims of anti-transgender hate rather than focusing on the hatred itself.
“We try to focus on the part where we’re honoring people. We don't want to spend more time talking about the horrible deaths and the horrible lives that they had leading up to their deaths,” Bogue said. “We want to see them off as who they truly were.”
Bogue said at the end of the ceremony at the Croatan, an ECU student in the transgender community will give a reflection speech to bring the energy to a calm level for the dinner afterwards.
Transgender Day of Remembrance and other days around the year are ways for the LGBTQ+ community to stand up for each other, Bogue said.
“Every spring semester we have Transgender Day of Visibility, and that was actually created as a direct mirror to Transgender Day of Remembrance because activists felt like we were spending so much time talking about the negative stuff that no one ever got to hear the beautiful aspects of being transgender,” Bogue said.
Director of the Women and Gender Office (WGO) Chelsie Hargrove said the WGO has collaborated with the Peel center for the main campus ceremony.
It is important, Hargrove said, for everyone to spread awareness of anti-transgender violence and be a part in fighting hate in any form.
“It (Transgender Day of Remembrance) brings awareness to anti-trans violence not just in our country, but around the world,” Hargrove said. “We can stand as allies and advocates with the transgender community.”
The list of victims’ names that will be read is very long, Hargrove said, and that is why they will only be reading the names of victims in the United States. Hargrove said the number of victims of anti-transgender violence grows each year, and that is why days to honor the lives lost and to spread awareness are important.