The Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Harriet Hancock LGBT Center honored the lost lives of transgender people around the world for international Transgender Day of Remembrance. The Wednesday night ceremony featured multiple musical selections that included string instruments, piano and vocalists at the Russell House Patio.
The ceremony concluded with a presentation of all of the known transgender people around the world that were killed in the past year, and it showed the number of people whose names had to be listed as “unknown."
Ben Zah, a fourth-year psychology and philosophy student, attended the event, and he said it’s important to shine light on the issues the transgender community faces.
“Trans people are one of the most discriminated minority groups in our society," Zah said. "It’s also one of the groups that are the most violently discriminated against. Especially in the Southeast, where you’re in a place that historically is very, very conservative, even at times dangerously so."
Raf Hall, a third-year international business and marketing student, attended the ceremony, and said the day has personal significance for him.
“One of the main players in my life, and what changed my life, is my brother, and he’s actually trans, so just seeing that there is this kind of remembrance day, this kind of presence on campus, when a lot of the time ... I know that the trans community is so squelched, in a sense, in just everyday society," Hall said.
However, Hall said he believes there is still a lot of progress that needs to be made for the transgender community and for the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. He said hosting more of these events would have a positive impact for marginalized communities on campus.
“I am bi, so I’m part of the LGBTQ+ community, and I know that people will tolerate you, not in a sense of acceptance, but in a sense of just being complacent with everything, and in a sense that will eventually become, for some people, ignorance, because they don’t understand,” Hall said.
Ryan Robidoux who used to work with the Harriet Hancock Center attended. He said it’s important "to show solidarity" with the transgender community.
“It’s absurd and disappointing and upsetting that it’s still such a problem, that trans people are targeted, whether it’s losing their rights or losing their lives," Robidoux said. "It’s important to have events like this and to show up to events like this, and to show our trans community that they’re not alone."
Davina Bookbinder, the programming director for Sex Positive Portland and a soon-to-be rabbi, was one of the speakers at the ceremony, and she delivered a speech on the meaning behind the international Transgender Day of Remembrance.
“The rabbis of old said that if you destroy one life, it is as if you have destroyed an entire world. The, at least 22 people in the United States, over 300 worldwide this last year, are not just individuals. They’re worlds. They’re possibilities that were extinguished, that were exterminated,” Bookbinder said.“Tonight, we cry. Tomorrow, we rise up."