Prism and the Office of Social Justice, Inclusion, and Conflict Resolution (SJICR) closed out their celebration of Transgender Week of Awareness with their annual Trans Day of Remembrance ceremony at the Wellness Center Courtyard on Nov. 15.
Transgender Week of Awareness is observed annually from Nov. 13 to Nov. 19. Throughout the week, the two Rowan organizations hosted events, such as their Queer Collective and Clothing Swap, to gather members of the LGBTQ community in acts of togetherness during a time meant to recognize members of the transgender community who have been victims of targeted violence. Trans Day of Remembrance concluded the week by providing a space to memorialize the 53 victims of transphobic violence that have been murdered within the past year.
“Between Nov. 20, 2020, and today, even during a pandemic, 53 trans individuals were killed,” Emerson Harman, a Rowan sophomore, said during their opening address. “From security guards to hairstylists to a high school student, these individuals were human beings living vibrant lives, and each one of them were murdered in horrific acts of violence across the United States.”
Following Harman, a blessing was administered by Pastor Drew Harrison of the First Presbyterian Church in Pitman, New Jersey. Afterward, selected Rowan community members read aloud the names of those being memorialized, and those observing the event were invited to place their rocks into a dedicated rock garden. The rock garden was initially established in 2019 to commemorate the lives of trans and gender-nonconforming people and has been a crucial aspect of Trans Day of Awareness ever since.
“I’m reminded more than once a year, but at least once a year we can come together and we know that in all the progress we make, we mean to deeply and meaningfully and intentionally look at the systems that cause this kind of violence against trans folk — particularly black trans folk,” Jo Murphy, assistant director of SJICR said. “How can we come together and find ways to use our privilege and power for good?”
Closing remarks for Trans Day of Remembrance were spoken by Sam Damiri, a senior psychology student at Rowan. Damiri reflected on the themes present throughout the entirety of Transgender Awareness Week: authenticity and strength as a community.
“Being scared is not an option. Even though it is scary, that’s what they want us to do. To hide, to run, to not show our authentic selves,” Damiri said. “If we give in, then we are just doing the world a disservice.”
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