Day of Remembrance honors transgender victims of hate crimes

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Dozens gathered at the Dusty Bookshelf Nov. 20 for a memorial honoring people in the transgender community who have been victims of hate crimes.

The Kansas Equality Coalition of the Flint Hills sponsored the event as a part of the eighth-annual nationwide Transgender Day of Remembrance, observed each year in November.

“The Dusty Bookshelf was really filled up,” said Alley Stoughton, event organizer and associate professor of computing and information science. “We used all of their chairs and more.”

Stoughton said most of the people in attendance were K-State students, with a number of representatives from Ordinary Women and the Department of Women’s Studies.

Participants read a poem by S. Bear Bergman and first-person accounts of slain transgendered people.

“Perhaps 25 students bravely did this, and the atmosphere was very emotional,” Stoughton said. “Then we finished up with a period of (question and answer) and comments.

“One community member talked about the transgender friend of hers who was raped years ago and has never really recovered from it.”

Although not every person honored on the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender, each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender or gender-variant people.

The event began in 1999 in San Francisco to honor Rita Hester, whose alleged anti-transgender murder case remains unsolved, according to the K-State Web site, www.cis.ksu.edu/~stough/tdor.html.

Stefani Schrader, president of Ordinary Women, said the group wanted to be involved with the event because it raises consciousness on campus about people of all genders.

“It was startling to hear the wide array of ages these stories were about,” said Schrader, senior in women’s studies and English literature. “Also, there were a couple of local stories and some international ones. It’s not just one certain group of people hate crimes affect. It was important to share but at the same time really startling.”

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