NU community members gather to remember victims of anti-transgender violence


Allie Goulding/Daily Senior Staffer

Sylvia Regan (left) and JT Turner read the names of victims of anti-transgender violence during a vigil in the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. The event was held by Multicultural Student Affairs Monday in observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Elizabeth Byrne, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern students, faculty and staff read the names of victims of anti-transgender violence and honored their memories during a Monday vigil held in the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center.

The vigil was organized by Multicultural Student Affairs in observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance. Originally scheduled to be held at The Rock, the event was moved inside Norris University Center due to heavy winds.

Assistant director of Multicultural Student Affairs JT Turner and Weinberg senior Sylvia Regan read 36 pages of names –– collected over a one-year period from around the world –– at the vigil.

Turner told The Daily the vigil was organized to provide a space for people to mourn and also to share personal stories, because there isn’t always a place to discuss these issues.

“The premise of the event is that people are continuing to spread awareness about anti-transgender violence,” Turner said. “It’s important to recognize folks that have lost their lives to violence and honor their stories.”

Regan, who is the publicity chair of Rainbow Alliance, told The Daily she thought the vigil was important for others to see and recognize the violence that has occurred against transgender people over the last year.

“It’s important for people to stop and recognize the terrible loss,” Regan said. “It’s something we shouldn’t forget, but it’s easy to forget when we’re isolated from that violence.”

Regan added that while reading the names, she was thinking about how long the list was. She said she hopes people who were unable to attend the event will go online and look at the list to better understand the magnitude of loss.

Associate director of alumni engagement Suresh Mudragada attended the event and told The Daily he hopes events like these help educate others about the transgender community.

“Challenges and obstacles exist in our society that are very much binary and wanting to force people into boxes,” Mudragada said. “It’s very much eye-opening, so that’s when I started going to Transgender Day of Remembrance programs and learning about what’s happening in our country and what is oftentimes not reported.”

Turner said this year, Multicultural Student Affairs decided to focus transgender awareness programming around the Day of the Dead holiday. At the center of the vigil, a Day of the Dead altar was set up with photos of more than 20 victims from the U.S.

Attendees were also encouraged to bring photos of loved ones to place on the altar, Turner said.

“The significance with it is that the majority of (transgender) folks who have been murdered every year are usually of Latinx descent,” Turner said. “We’re just trying to acknowledge that component.”

Regan said she hopes the event spurs people to think about anti-transgender violence every day.

“Transgender Day of Remembrance isn’t the only day that people can and should think about the issue of violence against transgender people, but it’s a good start,” Regan said.

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