Stephanie Mott, director of Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, spoke at Kansas State for the Transgender Day of Remembrance gathering Tuesday.
Mott shared the importance of education and acceptance of what it means to be transgender or non-binary. She also recognized the 325 transgender people who have lost their lives this year due to transphobic hatred and prejudice.
“It is is a difficult time, and it is an extraordinarily sad time, but it is also an extraordinarily opportune time,” Mott said. “It is time to focus on what we can do to change the world so we don’t have to have a Transgender Remembrance day again next year.”
By educating, Mott said, there comes knowledge and acceptance, which is a major goal the transgender community is trying to reach.
Sam Sharpe, treasurer for the Gender Collective and graduate student in biology, said Mott’s presentation honored the internationally-recognized day of rememberence.
“She both honored that this is a day that we reflect on loss and the incredible violence and discrimination that many transgender people still face, but also focused on how much is changing, how much is getting better and how much hope and strength there is in being able to live your authentic self, which is often a long and complicated journey,” Sharpe said.
Despite prejudice against the LGBTQ community, Mott said great strides are being made toward acceptance, including the recent election of eight transgender people into political offices.
“We know that these eight are making a difference,” Mott said. “People are starting to stand up and speak out, and there has never been as loud a voice as there is right now.”
The importance of these topics was brought up briefly at the KSUnite event earlier in the day by Tanya Gonzalez, professor of English, who spoke on the behalf of K-State faculty and staff.
“We recognize the queer people of color who struggled at Stonewall, and we recognize the pride parades that continue that walk in celebration, in love and in continued fight for peace and justice,” Gonzalez said.
Mott asked the audience how many had participated in the march, and a majority of hands were raised. Mott smiled.
“Look at that,” Mott said. “That’s the thing that makes the change. That’s how you make a difference.”
Adam Carr, president of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance and junior in business, held a moment of silence for those who have lost their lives.
Carr said he was proud of the attendance at events like Mott’s presentation and KSUnite. Carr ended the presentation with a call to action.
“To end on an actional note: learn about gender/nonconformity issues, give respect to people and their existence, don’t make assumptions, give people the space to live as their authentic self, speak out when you can,” Carr said. “Each thing makes a difference. Last on the list is treat people like they’re humans. We all deserve that.”