Snow swirled around a group of students as they stepped forward, one by one, to read the names written on small transgender pride flags. Of the 325 known victims of anti-transgender violence who have died in the past 12 months, the flags represented the 25 who were murdered in the United States.
The ceremony served as the culmination to a weeklong series of events discussing transgender awareness. The week ended on the national Transgender Day of Remembrance, which has been observed annually on Nov. 20 since 1999. It recognizes those who have been lost to anti-transgender violence in the preceding year. Kelly Clark, director of the Q Center, noted that the names read at the ceremony were likely not reflective of the total number of victims, many of whose deaths may not have been reported or classified as hate crimes.
“For all of the folks we know, there are dozens and dozens we don’t know,” Clark said.
The planting of the flags and name-reading ceremony followed a silent march through the Marketplace, starting in the University Union’s Tillman Lobby and ending at the flag-planting spot on the Spine. Maeve Farrell, a freshman majoring in computer science, said it was important for her to attend the event.
“I wanted to show solidarity with the trans community on campus,” Farrell said.
Other events throughout the week included Pronouns Matter Day on Nov. 15, during which volunteers and employees of the Q Center tabled at locations across campus to raise awareness and distribute thousands of pins to students and faculty. Some pins simply read “Ask me my pronouns,” while others featured a space for participants to write their own preferred gender pronouns.
According to Clark, the education that Pronouns Matter Day fosters is foundational to addressing anti-transgender violence, because it can help build a basic respect for others’ identities.
“What a lot of people don’t think about is that there is a continuum of violence that LGBTQ and especially trans people experience,” Clark said. “Being an ally on the small things is a way of helping us get to the big things.”
Bianca Amanini, the multicultural affairs vice president of Broome Hall in Newing College and a sophomore majoring in psychology, also hosted an event in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance. The evening began with a presentation about the significance and history of the day and made note of the demographic makeup of the victims, 80 percent of whom were transgender women. Of those women, 95 percent were women of color.
The conversation eventually turned to the atmosphere surrounding transgender politics at Binghamton University. Students suggested that BU’s administration could help transgender students by instituting a University-wide policy that requires professors to ask students’ gender pronouns or increases the number of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. Jack Shearer, a sophomore double-majoring in linguistics and psychology, emphasized the importance of cultivating an accepting atmosphere in the classroom.
“It’s important to establish a definition of a safe space for the classroom,” Shearer said. “I think people think a safe space is like a liberal echo chamber, but it’s really a place where you can have your basic identity respected.”
The discussion was followed by another name-reading ceremony, accompanied by a moment of silence and the lighting of a candle for each victim. Organizers at the Q Center and in Newing College expressed dismay at the number of attendees, with fewer than 20 students at each.
“I put this event in a group chat of over 700 people,” Amanini said. “What more can we do?”
Students also voiced concern that those who did attend were generally well-informed about the issues at hand already. Nichelae McFarlane, a sophomore majoring in political science, said the low turnout conveyed a lack of support for transgender students.
“If people at [BU] and faculty members actually cared about students, they’d come to events like this,” McFarlane said.
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