Remembering the transgender dead

The plight of the transgender community is a silenced trauma. Violence against transgender people ranges beneath the placid surface of the everyday, its presence almost entirely absent from our television screens, newsfeeds and public dialogue. Though “invisible,” crimes against transgender people continue to escalate in number, disproportionately affecting transgender women of color. Today, November 20, marks the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which seeks to honor the memories of those who have lost their lives to acts of anti-transgender violence in the past year. Nationwide, individuals gather in vigils to memorialize and preserve the memories of the lives of transgender people and to lend visibility to the transgender community’s broader struggles for recognition, rights and safety. We urge the Swarthmore community to join others in breaking the silence around transgender issues, today and in the future.

Though TDOR emphasizes anti-transgender crimes, violence against transgender people is not confined to the realm of guns, criminal records and court cases. This violence can be found in many forms and degrees, in a diverse array of places and circumstances. Swarthmore is no exception. We maintain that ideals of diversity, acceptance and equality are fundamental to our community’s identity. However, it is our responsibility to critically examine whether our activities actually reflect this claim, and to be open to the idea that we, as a community, may be lacking.

All members of our community are accountable for making Swarthmore a safe and supportive space for transgender people. We challenge our community to listen and ask questions, to re-think assumptions and resist an attitude of complacency, because we can do better. We can be more sensitive in our deployment of gendered language and we can stop assuming people’s gender identities. We can create more gender-neutral spaces on campus and support the hiring of more trans-identifying faculty and staff. Collectively, we can shape a campus environment that allows transgender members of our community to articulate their needs and to know that they will be heard and, crucially, responded to.

A vigil for Transgender Day of Remembrance, sponsored by SQU, will be held Thursday, November 18, in front of Parrish at 8 p.m.

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