On Sunday 17 November, NUSU’s Rock The Cis-Tem campaign ended with a vigil to commemorate the transgender lives lost this year. Transgender Day of Remembrance takes place on Wednesday 20 November annually, with the campaign hosting an earlier version of this for Newcastle students to attend.
The group of students, including trans and non-binary students as well as cisgender allies and members of the LGBT+ Society, gathered at 10.30am on Sunday morning to begin the vigil. LGBT+ Officer, Tobias Lawrence, who has been organising the campaign for Transgender Awareness Week, read the list of names of transgender and non-binary people aloud. This year, there were 331 names to read. Many of these names were from countries like Brazil and Mexico, known for their anti-LGBT and transphobic laws and practices. However, with 31 names from the United States of America, the transphobia and violence against trans people is prevalent worldwide. Notably, in the United States, 85% of the trans people reported murdered are trans women of colour and/or Native American trans women. 61% of the victims were sex workers, highlighting the danger of working in this industry for trans people.
After the names were read, there was a minute’s silence to commemorate the 331 lives lost this year. Tobias then read a secular prayer for strength and empowerment, before inviting any of the people present to share their thoughts. One trans student remarked that it was their fourth year attending the vigil, and that “the numbers never seem to change” and drew attention to the fact that the largest population of trans people being killed is trans women of colour. She encouraged all allies to show any support they could for the trans and non-binary community, which is constantly under threat from ignorance and hatred. A self-care session was held directly after the vigil to provide students with a place of comfort and relaxation to recover from the difficult and intense 45-minute-long vigil.
LGBT+ Officer Tobias Lawrence said: “While it can be emotionally draining, it’s important to recognise those people who have lost their lives due to hate crime around the world and to support our trans and non-binary community and friends. The turnout has been amazing for the campaign events and I really think it’s made a positive impact among the student body and been appreciated by the trans and non-binary community”.
The vigil shows how vital this community action and solidarity is for the transgender and gender-diverse community worldwide. Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide reports that there have been 3317 registered murders of transgender and gender-diverse people worldwide since January 2008. This epidemic needs to be tackled by governments and human rights organisations worldwide, so that one day there will be no list of names of lives lost due to transphobic hate crime.
Last modified: 17th November 2019