SJICR holds vigil to cap off Transgender Awareness Week

Anne Villinski observes placards on the table during the transgneder vigil on November 20, 2017. -Photo Editor/Nicole Mingo

Monday, Nov. 20 marked Transgender Day of Remembrance, as well as the end of Transgender Awareness Week which started on Tuesday, Nov. 14. To honor this day, the Office of Social Justice, Inclusion, and Conflict Resolution (SJICR) held a vigil in memory of members of the transgender community who were killed across the country so far in 2017.

“So we’re having a vigil as part of an international day of remembrance for trans folks who have passed not because they were sick, not because they were in an accident, but because they were murdered for who they are,” said Gardy Guiteau, director of SJICR.

Stands displaying the names and pictures of 26 trans people who were killed stood on tables with tea light candles in the middle of the room for attendees to look at, as well as a slideshow playing with the names of people in the United States, as well as people nationally from Brazil, Eurasia, Caribbean, Mexico, El Salvador, Canada and Argentina.

“And that number reflects [only] the ones that are reported because certain countries don’t even recognize that trans people exist, so the numbers even that we see globally are lower than they probably accurately are,” said Flora Ruli, graduate coordinator of LGBTQIA+ and Inclusion Programs in the SJICR office.

Ann Villinski, a psychologist at the Counseling and Psychological Services Center (CPS), attended the event. Villinski also belongs to SJICR’s Out and Ally Network and part of her role at CPS included acting as Coordinator for Gender and Sexual Diversity Services.

“I hope that folks know that SJICR is here to offer support and a safe space and to help people understand how to… be in the world and in our community and just to kind of locate their own…experience and know that it is valid,” Villinski said. “Hopefully people are able to feel safe enough to allow themselves to feel what this means in their own lives.”

Villinski added she hopes attendees at the vigil experience the memorial space as an opportunity to make a deeply personal connection to the tragedy of people being killed for being themselves.

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