To end Transgender Awareness Week, Newcastle University students gathered by the SU to commemorate the lives lost due to acts of transphobic violence.
International Transgender Day of Remembrance is on the twentieth of November. To pay tribute, LGBT+ students and allies met on Sunday the 18th which marked the end of NUSU’s campaign for transgender awareness.
The vigil began with everyone standing in a circle holding lit candles as Charlotte Boulton, NUSU’s Marginalised Genders Officer, read out the names of over two hundred people who lost their lives this year due to transphobic hate crimes. Hearing so many names was emotional for many students and some tears were shed as people thought about the lives lost. When reflecting on the event, Charlotte described how the list felt “never-ending”.
“The vigil is such an important event to memorialise the trans lives lost due to transphobic violence and hate crimes.” She told The Courier. “These things shouldn’t be happening, and it continues to shock and horrify me that people are actually being murdered because of their gender identity.”
The aim of the vigil was, in Charlotte’s words, “to take notice of these atrocities that are happening right here, right now. It is especially important for cisgender people to take note of this and use their compassion to help support trans and non-binary people in their everyday lives.”
After the names were read out, everyone took a minute of silence to pay their respects. After the minute was up, people were given the opportunity to speak if they wished. In this time, a prayer was said by NUSU’s Faith and Belief Officer Grace Algar. One student also called into attention the fact that many of the people who had lost their lives were trans women of colour.
The vigil ended what was a “really successful” campaign. Charlotte Boulton, one of the organisers, said: “All I wanted to achieve from the campaign was to have one person say they have been educated by the week, and I’ve had multiple people tell me that. That’s what it’s all about, raising awareness and providing solidarity for the many trans and non-binary students at university.
“We ran two well-attended events, with the panel on Friday 16th being especially well-received. Our videos have received over 1.5k views in just a week; considering the difficulty in engaging students in SU campaigns, this is incredible.
“The week would not have been possible without the help of trans reps from LGBT+ Society and Feminist Society, and the help of vocal trans activists on campus. Grace Algar, the Faith and Belief Officer for NUSU, has been a particularly amazing help and their videos are well worth a watch to learn more about gender identity. We’ve received lots of support from various societies, student media and Jack Green, Welfare and Equality Officer, and it means so much to have people care about this campaign.”