Tuesday, March 21, 2023

MT Lambda hosts Annual Trans Remembrance Day


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Story and Photos by Jordan Reining | Contributing Writer

Silence filled the air as students and faculty walked around the Student Union Commons looking at the names of lives lost. 

On Nov. 19, MT Lambda hosted a ceremony for Transgender Day of Remembrance. 

MT Lambda is MTSU’s LGBTQ+ and Ally association and has hosted the ceremony for multiple years.  

The courtyard was filled with names written on paper bags of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals that have been murdered. 

All were welcome to join the ceremony and listen to the speakers emphasize the importance of fighting for equality within the community.  

Those in attendance were able to walk around after listening and take in the names on display. 

Transgender Day of Remembrance started in 1999, after the death of Rita Hester, a trans woman, who was killed in 1998. Her case is still unsolved. 

Names written on the paper bags show the name of the victims, their country of origin and the year of their death.

The bags showed names spanning 1970 to 2022. 

Dr. Marisa Richmond, a women’s and gender studies professor at MTSU, spoke during the ceremony about the danger transgender individuals face. 

“We’re continuing to see the assault on trans people in many ways, especially trans students, from our own state legislature,” said Dr. Richmond.  

Richmond, who identifies as a transgender woman, encouraged the crowd to keep fighting for justice for trans communities. 

“It’s important in the transgender community that the stories be remembered that we continue to remind people that the epidemic of violence has not ended,” said Dr. Richmond. 

According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 32 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been killed in 2022.

These reports come after 2021 was titled the deadliest year on record for transgender communities, with at least 45 deaths being reported throughout the year

MT Lambda President Zofia Zagalsky thanked those in attendance for showing up despite the cold. 

“It’s something we strive to do every year,” said Zagalsky, “it’s very important to a lot our members.” 

The hundreds of names that filled the courtyard are a reminder that violence in the United States and worldwide is ever present in many communities. 

“These kinds of events break down the barriers between groups. Our memorials like this reflect memorials that happen in the Black community, that happen in the African community, that happen in the Hispanic community,” said Zagalsky, “people who are discriminated against that aren’t a part of the in-group, who face violence on their daily lives, [we] have to memorialize those lives.” 

As students walked around reading the names and stories, they were bathed in the pink, blue, and white shining upon the Student Union.   

The colors of the transgender flag shined, covering the entire side of the building. 

Kevin Zuniga, a sophomore, attended after hearing about the ceremony from a friend.  

As a gender non-conforming person, they expressed a personal significance in coming together to remember everyone who lost their lives. 

“I think that it’s really important to really just go and remember and appreciate all the lives that were lost way too early in the fight to be seen, to be visible.” said Zuniga. 

While fighting to be accepted, trans communities have been hit hard, with 155 anti-trans bills being filed in 2022 alone.

Tennessee leads with the most restrictive legislation regarding transgender youth.

Among the paper bags, was a name many within the LGBTQ+ community know well. Marsha P. Johnson was an activist that spearheaded a movement within New York City’s queer community. 

Johnson, a transgender woman, was found dead in 1992. 

“It struck a chord to know that I recognized some of those names,” said Zuniga, “people that were actually actively fighting lost their lives as well, it made me feel a little sad.” 

Echoing the sentiments of speakers at the ceremony, Zuniga stressed that having conversations and acknowledging the hate that is aimed at these communities is a way to go forward.  

“We’re here, and we’re not going anywhere,” stated Zuniga. 


Trans lifeline: 877 565 8860 

Trevor project: 

National suicide prevention lifeline – 1800 273 8255 

National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network – NQTTCN is a healing justice organization that works to transform mental health for queer and trans people of color. 

national hotline (lgbthotline.org) 

To contact Lifestyles Editor Ethan Pickering, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more news, visit www.mtsusidelines.com, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter at @Sidelines_News 

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