Gender & Sexuality Alliance to host virtual candlelight vigil for Transgender Day of Remembrance

Last year, 26 people in the U.S. were murdered for being transgender. This year that number was surpassed by August and only continues to grow.

Texas leads the nation in transgender violence and deaths, said Gender & Sexuality Alliance secretary and glass art sophomore Jasper Flores. So it’s important for people to be aware of the dangers the transgender community faces on a daily basis.

This is why the Gender & Sexuality Alliance holds an annual candlelight vigil, where members gather to read the names of the transgender people who were murdered throughout that year.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is a national event held Nov. 20, and attendees typically read the names to remember and honor their lives.

The list is released by the Human Rights Campaign every year on the day of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and this year it is projected to have more than 35 names.

The Human Rights Campaign’s list only includes U.S. deaths, but it’s important to remember that more than 350 deaths have been reported worldwide this year alone.

“There’s a lot of violence. And it happens, unfortunately, on a daily basis,” Flores said.

This is especially true for trans women of color, who face more violence than other trans demographics. By August 2020, 23 of the 28 deaths were trans women, and black trans women are 14% more likely to be attacked, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Social work alumnus Devyn Box said participating in Transgender Day of Remembrance events is a yearly tradition for them, and Box’s favorite experience was last year’s event at the Dallas Public Library.

“What was really nice about that experience for me was being able to be in the same room with other trans people from all different walks of life,” Box said. “To kind of hold space for the weight of our collective grief and pain.”

Box is 36 years old and only figured out their gender identity three years ago, they said. As a result, the UTA LGBTQA+ groups weren’t a part of their journey, but they’ve finally reached a place where they’re content in the steps they’ve taken to transition socially and medically.

“I feel like I'm kind of, in a place where I can advocate and give back, and help support my community,” they said.

This year, Box won’t be able to participate in in-person events like normal but has plans to participate virtually with their wife through live-streamed events.

The Gender & Sexuality Alliance’s virtual event this year will feature the typical reading of names and a speech given by a veteran member of the group. Attendees are encouraged to use candles or lights as well.

Jaya Gratts, Gender & Sexuality Alliance president, expects the event to be small and intimate, they said, but it won’t stop them from spreading their message.

They’re a social organization, but they also attempt to educate new members about the culture, history and impact that laws have on queer people, so anyone who wants to learn is welcome.

The Gender & Sexuality Alliance’s vigil will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, and links to join will be provided through MavOrgs and social media.

@Sam_Knowles00

features-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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