Remembering Trans Lives Lost

Content Warning: mentions of violence against transgender people

Content warning: the lanterns pictured below detail the way trans people were killed due to transphobic violence.

From left to right: senior Jazmin Clausen-Thomas, Ellie Liew, Oracle staff
member Kimia Kowsari and Wren Heille at Spectrum’s table in Anderson Forum. (Aidan Stromdahl)

Tea lights and paper bags sat blank on a table in Anderson Center waiting for students to make them into lanterns to honor trans people who have passed away this year from anti-transgender violence. 

This event was hosted by Spectrum, Hamline’s LGBTQIA+ student organization, for Transgender Day of Remembrance. Students took a bag to decorate and put on a photo of a trans person along with their name who has passed away this year. During the weekend, the bags will be set up around Anderson for a vigil. 

Members of Spectrum helped out to make the lanterns. One of these members was sophomore Wren Heille.

“We are tabling for Trans Day of Remembrance to remember all of the lives that we have lost due to violence and other things that trans people face all over the world,” Heille said. “We have the people we’ve lost their names and [for] some we’ve listed how they passed. People from all over the world. I think we focus mostly on the U.S. and countries where our international students are from, but just to remember those people that we’ve lost in the past year to violence.”

According to glaad.org, an LGBTQIA+ media advocacy organization, Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was started in 1999. Transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith started the tradition with a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. 

Violence against trans people is seen devastatingly often. In 2021, at least 50 trans people passed away due to violence. So far in 2022, that number has been at least 32 in the U.S.

Content warning: the lanterns pictured below detail the way trans people were killed due to transphobic violence. (Aidan Stromdahl)

“While the details of these cases differ, it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color — particularly Black transgender women — and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and unchecked access to guns conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities,” the Human Rights Campaign website states (hrc.org).

At the Spectrum event, students took part in remembering the lives of transgender individuals internationally. 

“People are cutting out [pictures of] trans lives that have been lost in America but also in lots of countries where we have foreign exchange students from,” said junior Ellie Liew. “So it’s specific to Hamline and people are putting candles and then they’ll be set up all weekend for transgender remembrance.”

Members of Spectrum hope that not only will this vigil bring awareness to trans violence but also encourage people to take further action to help trans lives.

“I think taking steps to educate yourself [is important],” Liew said, “But celebrating trans life that is still happening here and supporting members of the trans community.”

The event was also a reminder of the resources that exist to support the transgender community. 

“There’s so many resources out there,” Heille said, “so many foundations [that] help trans people who are dealing with threats of violence so call your representatives and take political action.”