Student organization reflects on past killings of transgenders

A solemn atmosphere surrounded Transcendence’s fourth annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

This annual global event held to memorialize those killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice began when Rita Hester was murdered on Nov. 28, 1998. When Hester’s murder was highly publicized, the allied community became outraged because the media used male pronouns to describe her. Hester had been living as a female for 10 years.

Transcendence’s presentation focused highly on Gwen Araujo.

Araujo, born as a male and living as a female since her teenage years, was murdered when several males who she partied with discovered she was biologically male. Presenters explained the murderers felt they didn’t do anything wrong after they buried her in a shower curtain in a shallow grave. The murderers thought they were defending their heterosexuality.

Vanessa Garlock, Transcendence treasurer, spoke about the relations between heterosexuals and transgendered individuals.

“There’s more to gender than just heterosexuality,” Garlock said.

There are many ways to speak up and speak out against prejudice toward those who are not heterosexual, according to Garlock.

“Trans week challenges the idea of fixed genders,” Garlock said.

Joelle Ruby Ryan, an American Culture Studies graduate assistant, participated in Transgender Day of Remembrance for the sixth year in a row.

This year, she had the opportunity to speak out against the media coverage of transgender murder or abuse cases.

The media often uses the wrong pronoun when referring to transgendered people, causing rage among transgendered people and supporters alike, according to Ryan.

The media tends to misrepresent the trans-society, she said.

“Like our non-trans counterparts, we have one life, not two,” Ryan said.

Amanda Monyak, Transcendence secretary, discussed how compassion and education is what will save our society from transphobia and that we have to understand that transpeople do not live two separate lives.

“Not all of us wake up in the morning wondering if we will be harassed because of our gender identity,” Monyak said.

Carlos Adams, an ethnic studies instructor, was invited to speak out against domestic violence and moving beyond misogamy.

He spoke to the group about his commitment to non-violence. Marlene Bomer, community liaison for Transcendence, concluded the event on a positive note.