Marshall Honors Victims of Transphobia During Transgender Day of Remembrance

Matthew Schaffer, Student Reporter

A candlelight vigil honoring nationwide victims of anti-transgender violence united community members and speakers on campus Wednesday night, Nov. 16, to spread a message of inclusivity and resilience. Marshall’s LGBTQ+ Office and Huntington Pride hosted the event at the Memorial Student Center Plaza. 

During the vigil, attendees shared their experiences and remembered victims nationwide who lost their lives to transphobia this year.

“It’s a time to band together, not just to honor those people but to encourage visibility,” Sam Green, vice-president of Huntington Pride, said. “Having events like this if somebody walks by and sees all these trans people banded together to fight against the violence: that makes a big difference.” 

Over the past five years, there have been over 300 murders of trans individuals every year  worldwide, with 30 to 50 taking place each year in the United States. While the event was held to honor those murdered by anti-trans violence, Green said it also served as an opportunity to let students and community members bond over inclusivity.

“When I was questioning my identity, I didn’t know anyone who was trans. I didn’t have an example to look up to,” Green said. “By having these events, younger trans people can say, ‘Hey, there are older people who are living the life I want to live and they’re thriving and happy.’”

Transgender Day of Remembrance, typically observed on Nov. 20, was started by a transgender advocate, Gwendolyn Ann Smith, with a vigil in 1999 responding to the murder of Rita Hester, a trans woman in Massachusetts. Since then, community members have gathered every year to honor and celebrate the lives of the victims, Green said.

“Even though we talked about honoring and remembering tonight, it was still about celebrating their lives,” Shaunte Polk, director of Marshall’s LGBTQ+ office and director of intercultural and international students, said.

Both Huntington Pride and Marshall’s LGBTQ+ office plan on continuing to fight for inclusivity and change, Green and Polk said.

“Always know that there is always a place for you. There’s a family waiting for you. There are always people who want to help you, and there is always a space where you can be heard,” Polk said.

The LGBTQ+ Office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in East Hall and, for future events, Huntington Pride can be found on both Facebook and Instagram.