Advocate Jay Pryor speaks at the Transgender Day of Remembrance event


When Jay Pryor, who is an advocate for the transgender community, spoke in front of a filled room in the Town Hall of the Leadership Studies Building, he believed that he was meant to be there.

“I don’t think that it’s a mistake that I’m here tonight. I know it’s not,” Pryor said. “Two days ago, I was like, ‘What am I gonna do?’ Then K-State reached out to me, and I have the opportunity to keep speaking out.”

Pryor is a life coach and transgender man, someone who does not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth or within the gender spectrum. He spoke Thursday night at the K-State Transgender Day of Remembrance event, which honored transgender individuals who have lost their lives in the past year.

“We have lost more lives this year than we ever have,” Pryor said. “It’s important that we remember, important that we speak their names. Otherwise, their contributions will have been in vain.”

Pryor then urged members of the LGBT community and their allies to not lose hope in the aftermath of the presidential election, but to help one another and work for change.

“We have to find our power,” Pryor said. “Alice Walker says that the most common way that people give up their power is to think they don’t have any, but we do. And, if we join together, the power inside ourselves is greater than any circumstances that we may have to overcome.”

While reading names of transgender individuals who had passed away in the past year, K-State’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance President Holly Nelson, senior in anthropology, echoed Pryor’s words.

“I want you to know how valued you are,” Nelson said. “There are tons of people here fighting for you, and we’re all here for each other.”

Parker Heinze, junior in psychology, said he was interested to hear Pryor speak about life as a transgender person.

“It was a good look from an outsider’s perspective as to what it’s like to be trans and to go through those struggles, whether they’re daily or lifelong,” Heinze said.

The national observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance will take place on Nov. 20.