On Nov. 16 and 17, Unity House sponsored two events for Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), an annual day of recognition for lives lost to anti-trans violence. The events included a screening of “Call Her Ganda” with QTPOC and Gender Group, along with a vigil in memory of transgender and gender-nonconforming people who have been killed for their gender identity.
TDOR was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith to memorialize Rita Hester, a Black trans woman from Boston who was murdered in 1998. On the first anniversary of Hester’s murder, Smith organized a vigil to recognize her and other victims of violence against transgender people. TDOR has since expanded internationally, and the day serves to memorialize and honor those lost over the past year to violence against transgender or gender non-conforming people.
During the vigil, organizers shared the names and stories of the 33 transgender and gender non-conforming people who were murdered in the past year. The attendance for these events, which took place on the Thursday and Friday before Thanksgiving break, was lower than usual, likely due to students traveling home for break.“There were only about 10 people, but that was good because it gave people time to grieve,” Unity House Student Manager Charlie Brandt ’26 said in an interview with the Collegian. About half the students in attendance were not regulars at Unity House events, according to Brandt.
The screening of “Call Her Ganda,” a documentary about the murder of a Filipina trans woman, had lower turnout than the vigil, with only one non-manager student attending. Despite the low turnout, Brandt emphasized the importance of providing safe spaces, including screenings, for LGBTQ+ students on campus. “It is crucial to provide spaces like these regardless of how many people use them,” Brandt said. “Not only are they real places to talk and process, but they also signal to the trans-and gender-expansive community that their grief and fear is real and needs to be felt.”
Along with safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students, Brandt hopes to bring awareness to the importance of events such as Transgender Day of Remembrance. “I think, with a combined 764 proposed and 111 passed anti-trans bills in the past two years and so many trans folks dead, especially [people of color], these events are crucial,” they said.