On Thursday, 19th November, the Office of LGBT Life honored the lives of trans people who have lost their lives to anti-trans violence with Emory’s third annual Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) memorial service.
TDOR is recognized nationally every November 20th with vigils and services to commemorate those we have lost in the past year and to uplift their memory in a celebration of their lives. So far in 2015, 22 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been murdered in the U.S. alone, with 19 of those being trans women of color.
Emory’s service was again held in the Little Chapel of the Church School Building next to Glenn Memorial, with a crowd of students, staff, alumni, and congregation members present. This year, the memorial was marked by the stories of some of Emory’s brave and honest students, including Ryouko Sasha Heaven, who reflected on her experiences as a trans woman and those of her friends and community members. The experiences that the trans students described were markedly different, but they did share an appreciation for the work that the Office of LGBT Life has done to improve conditions for trans folks at Emory.
Other speakers included Alyssa Weinstein, President of the Emory College Council, who spoke about strategies for engaging in allyship to trans communities, and Danielle Steele, Interim Director of the Office of LGBT Life, who provided an overview of trans-inclusive policies and progress at Emory.
Steele notes that the annual TDOR event is an important community building opportunity for everyone on campus: “Emory community members, both trans people and allies, deserve a space to come together to memorialize those who have been lost, build a community of care and support for one another, and rededicate ourselves to support trans people and eradicating transphobic violence.”
Speakers paid particular attention to Black and Latina trans women who are most often the victims of transphobia attacks and violence, and they highlighted the ways in which privilege, oppression, and intersectionality shape the experiences of trans people at Emory and internationally.
To highlight the scale of anti-trans violence worldwide, student staff from the Office of LGBT Life read aloud the names of the victims in a moving and deeply thought-provoking vigil. The Office of Spiritual and Religious Life then offered remarks in memoriam that both emphasized the mourning and healing aspects of the occasion and also challenged all of us to continue fighting for justice for trans communities. The evening concluded with a reception for attendees to support one another in fellowship, with refreshments donated by Emory Dining.
–Aby Parsons, 13G, & Danielle Steele, Interim Director, Office of LGBT Life