Vigil honored transgender individuals who have lost their lives


Students gathered in front of the Main Building on UK campus for the Trans Day of Remembrance vigil on Monday, November 20, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Connor Woods | Staff

Noah Oldham

Members of the UK community gathered outside the Main Building Monday evening to observe the Transgender Day of Remembrance with a candlelight vigil.

Attendees of the vigil were given electric candles upon arrival to hold throughout the ceremony. The ceremony opened with remarks from Lance Poston, Director of LGBTQ* Resources. Poston began by explaining the history behind the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The day was first observed a year after the death of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered in Massachusetts on Nov. 28, 1998. On Nov. 20, 1999, the first TDOR commemorated Hester and others who have lost their lives to violence based on their gender identity or expression. Ever since, the day has been a tradition in the LGBTQ community and is often observed with vigils. This year was the third annual vigil hosted by the Office of LGBTQ Resources.

Rayne Parker, coordinator for Education and Outreach in Office of LGBTQ Resources, began reading out the names of the 25 transgender people who lost their lives to violence in 2017 in the United States. 2017 has had the highest recorded rate of violence against transgender people ever. Parker and Poston both mentioned that the majority of those affected by this violence were transgender women of color. They also said that there are hundreds of others in different countries who lost their lives to violence and are to be remembered.

Tuesday Meadows, president of the UK LGBTQ Alumni Group, also known as PrideCats, gave the closing remarks. She expressed her anger and sadness.

“One is too many,” she said. “Twenty-five is unbelievable. Just because they dared to be themselves.”

Meadows ended the ceremony with a message of hope.

“Promise me one thing,” she told attendees. “Promise me you will do something this year to end this hatred.”

Parker said that cisgender students can support their transgender peers.

“One thing that people always need is allies… By having cisgender individuals and people who may not identify within the LGBTQ community speaking out for and then also showing different forms of solidarity with it can make spaces more visually safe and supportive for those individuals,” Parker said.