Each year, the Pride Center hosts Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day dedicated to reflecting and honoring the lives taken due to violence against the transgender community over the last year. While this year’s events will look different, the Pride Center, Honors and Scholars, the Commission for LGBT People, the Women’s Coordinating Council, and SGA Diversity Affairs will be continuing this important tradition.
SGA Diversity Affairs director and Pride Center peer mentor Rainey Dinsmore is one of many helping lead the charge this year, bringing in SGA for the first time. Rainey explained when Bonnie Johnson, coordinator of the Pride Center, reached out to them, they knew it was important to partner together with SGA to make this year’s events successful.
“I sent several messages to SGA’s exec to make sure we got involved in this event,” said Dinsmore. “After that, the planning was easier than I expected. I have a signup sheet set up for people to help out with writing names on the flags, and I have started planning the weeklong vigil we will have in the Student Union where students can leave flowers or anything as a tribute.”
Events for this year include the flag memorial on HSS Lawn, which can be seen on display all day on November 19 and 20, and a virtual vigil on November 19 to remember each individual. Each flag seen will represent a life lost due to violence. This day isn’t just for remembering lives; it’s also to show that the community will continue to remain strong and united against hate and violence.
“We are excited to have students involved in a different way this year due to the virtual format,” said Johnson. “SGA Diversity Affairs came up with the flag display idea to complement the virtual vigil to still have a physical honoring of the lives lost. I’m so thankful for students’ amazing perspectives and ideas because they help turn events like our vigil into truly campus-wide events that are more accessible and educational. They know how to engage students best.”
In addition to the virtual vigil and the flag display, Dinsmore noted that there will also be a table in the Student Union set up for students to leave flowers and other items as a way to pay respect.
“The violence against any marginalized community is too much,” said Dinsmore. “Showing that these people, these victims, are not forgotten and that they still matter even though they aren’t here anymore is the least we can do. We have to create a world where this does not happen anymore, and one of the best ways to get the point across that this is a problem is to quantify it with the flags that aren’t really flags, they’re people.”
Hosting events like this allows for the UT community to understand the impact violence can have on marginalized committees. But Johnson also notes how this event presents an opportunity to unite against hate and divisiveness. “I hope attendees not only mourn the lives taken from transphobic violence but understand their role in preventing violence and protecting trans, nonbinary, and gender diverse people. Every single person, especially cisgender people, has a duty to make our campus and world more affirming.”
Those looking to get more involved in the Pride Center have a few different opportunities. “We are still active despite COVID-19, and we have many ways to stay engaged,” said Johnson. “Check out our Discord and Zoom virtual spaces, join the Peer Mentoring Program as a mentor or mentee, join our LGBTQ+ reading group, and/or attend our fun and educational programs.”