Twenty-two photos were glued to a white poster board on the first floor of the University Center. In almost all the photos the individual is smiling or posing for the camera.
Underneath the photo, their name was listed along with the time and date they were killed.
ESU’s PRIDE (People Representing Individual Diversity and Education) honored the 22 trans individuals who lost their lives this year as a part of the Trans Day of Remembrance.
The organization set up a booth showing the names and faces of the trans individuals who were killed and handed out bracelets with the hashtag #WontBeErased.
“As the LGBT community is so marginalized and has to deal with so much persecution and oppression from heteronormative and cis-normative society,” said PRIDE member Chole Brown. “I think a lot of times we forget about our trans brothers and sisters and how their experience is so much more different than someone who is cisgender and gay or cisgender and bi.”
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, one in four trans people have faced biased-driven assault.
That number is even higher for trans women and trans people of color which were the majority of the faces shown on the Remembrance poster.
“I’ve seen statistics that said the average lifespan of a cisgender person is 70-years-old, give or take,” said PRIDE’s vice president Benjamin Ace. “But, the average lifespan of a trans person, in general,l is about 30-years-old because of how prevalent suicide and hate crimes are.”
According to The Human Rights Campaign, advocates tracked 29 deaths of trans individuals, the deadliest year for trans people on record.
These individuals were either killed either out of clear anti-transgender biased, or their gender identity put them at risk in other aspects such as homelessness.
“I feel like a lot of crimes like this and violence toward the trans community go unnoticed by people who are not in the community,” said Eli Johnson, president of PRIDE. “It’s important to bring that to light. People need to realize this is what is going on and that this is happening.”
According to Brown, America is in the midst of the gender revolution. Brown says while the nation seems to be more relaxed toward sexuality, gender identity is still being scrutinized in the media and by politicians.
Back in October, the Trump administration announced they are considering narrowing the definition of gender by that individual’s genitalia. This would not allow individuals to separate their sex from their gender or forcing them to have sex reassignment surgery.
“The whole regulation about how your sex and your gender have to match up, it would ultimately erase trans people, that is why we have the wristbands that say #WontBeErased,” Brown said. “It’s not just the standard homophobia or biphobia, this is someone trying to erase an entire identity.”
PRIDE and the Gender and Sexuality Center have resources for trans students such as “Behind Closed Doors” which is a private discussion group for people to discuss their sexuality or gender. The university’s resources include space spaces on campus, one stall or gender-neutral bathrooms, as well as the preferred name policy which allows individuals to put their preferred name on their e-card, class list and more.
“At a lot of other PASSHE schools they have more extensive resources for trans students as we’ve been looking into,” he said. “We figured if other PASSHE schools have it then we probably should too.”
For more information on resources for transgender and gender non-comforting, ESU students visit ESU’s Gender & Sexuality located on the ground floor of the University Center or contact PRIDE at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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