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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Transgender Week of Remembrance held on campus

Junior Luciane DeAlmeida explains the difference between an accomplice and an ally at the Transgender Day of Rememberance event on Tuesday, Nov. 17. // Photo by Christina Becker
Junior Luciane DeAlmeida explains the difference between an accomplice and an ally at the Transgender Day of Rememberance event on Tuesday, Nov. 17. // Photo by Christina Becker

In honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance on Friday, Nov. 20, the AS Queer Resource Center hosted multiple events on campus throughout the past week, known around campus as Transgender Week of Remembrance, in an effort to bolster community involvement.

The day serves as a memorial for those who experienced violence or were killed because they were transgendered.

Crafts and Community, the first event of the week, took place on Monday, Nov. 16, in the Viking Union. The event featured two separate meetings for two important parts of the transgender community — transgender folks and their allies.

Members of the transgender community met in a trans-encouraged space in a conference room to simply interact with their peers and make crafts.

Just down the hall, supporters of the trans community met in a cis-encouraged space to discuss the best ways to lend their support to those who needed it. The room was for those whose self-identity matches their gender, but still wish to support transgender students.

Junior Luciane DeAlmeida, the Queer Resource Center’s assistant coordinator, said splitting the event into two venues was an important part of the event. The Queer Resource Center aimed to foster a safe environment for a community on campus that truly needs it, DeAlmeida said.

“We had a space to allow for trans community, which is so rare and doesn’t really happen on this campus,” DeAlmeida said.

Scout Hartman, the Queer Resource Center coordinator, said the events were held as an opportunity to reflect on transgendered people throughout history.

“It’s in honor of the trans voices that are continually silenced, and the trans lives that have been lost,” Hartman said. “But it’s also in celebration of those lives.”
While the entire week is not always celebrated, Western chose to prolong Transgender Day of Remembrance this year.

“It seems very trivializing to have just this one day and the other 364 days we can go back to being oblivious,” Hartman said.

The conversation inside the cis-encouraged space defined and analyzed the roles of allies and accomplices of the trans community. Students discussed how allies can tactfully offer their support while avoiding condescending or self-indulgent undertones.

Hartman believes redefining allyship is a way of honoring loved ones and friends who want to be allies, but may not necessarily have the language, he said.

Freshman Kyle Jackson felt that the events of the week offered a chance for Western to reflect.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to look back,” Jackson said. “It’s a good time for the trans community to be with each other and learn about themselves.”

Jackson stays in touch with some transgender friends he made in high school and tries to make sure he is someone that they can always come to if they need to.

The discussions on Monday, Nov. 16, analyzed why some allies attempt to support the community, something that isn’t always done just out of kindness, Jackson said.

“There are definitely some people that would get involved just to say, ‘Oh look at me, I’m an ally’, instead of just trying to support them,” Jackson said.

For the second event of the week, the Queer Resource Center hosted a trans-encouraged pre-showing of “Tangerine”, a film presented by AS Productions on Thursday, Nov. 19.

“Tangerine” is one of the only productions to feature transgender actor portraying transgender characters.

The event was an opportunity for the transgender community to attend in solidarity.

On Friday, Nov. 20, the Queer Resource Center will host its final event of the week — the Night of Candles — at 5 p.m. in Viking Union Building 462A/B.

All students are welcome to attend and participate. Students who choose to participate will write their thoughts on a piece of paper, which is turned into the wick of a candle. At the end of the night, the candles will be lit in the style of a candle-light vigil.

“It’s an idea of healing and of solidarity, and letting these things go,” Hartman said.

While events of Transgender Week of Remembrance are an essential step in establishing community on Western’s campus, there is always more that can be done, Hartman said.

“These are things we should be concerned about and trying to change every day,” Hartman said. “Having a space to honor this, and to honor our history is really important.”

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