Vigil to honor, celebrate trans lives

There have been 22 reported trans deaths this year in the U.S.



Marco Cerqueira, graduate student in cultural studies and social thought in education, discusses the upcoming Trans Day of Rememberance vigil , which will be held this Wednesday at 5:30pm, on Tuesday afternoon at Cleveland Hall.

ANDREA GONZALEZ, Evergreen reporter

U.T.O.P.I.A. Eastern Washington will host a vigil at WSU to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Trans Day of Remembrance.

The event will be held Wednesday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center. Gender and Sexuality Alliance, Graduate Pride Alliance at Washington State, and GIESORC will sponsor the event.

Jeremiah Sataraka, Ph.D. candidate in cultural studies and social thought in education, said the vigil is to honor the lives that have been killed, raise awareness of anti-trans violence and help everyone to think about what they can do to make a difference.

Sataraka said the day highlights the violence that happens to trans people. It started after a woman was killed for being transgender. This year there have been at least 22 reported trans deaths in the U.S., he said.

A lot of the deaths reported are of trans black women, Sataraka said, so it is an issue of trans identity as well as race.

“There are a lot of people dying due to being trans, which is an epidemic, and the fact that we’re not aware of it is not okay,” he said. “If you’re ignorant to an issue then you won’t think that there’s anything wrong.”

Marco Cerqueira, graduate student in cultural studies and social thought in education, said he is attending the event because it is a way to show that he is connected with the fight against the genocide of trans brothers and sisters.

The event is a way to show the community that there is a problem that people cannot be silent about and wait for more people to be killed, Cerqueira said.

He said he wants to get to know the supporters of the event and become aware of the people who have been killed. He said not accepting non-binary people creates a gateway for violence against them.

“The message that people should get from the vigil is that they should be free to be whoever they want to be,” Cerqueira said.

Sataraka said individuals need to become more aware of the trans history and current issues that exist in the trans communities.

People should be educated in the history and contributions to social justice work and civil rights trans people have contributed to, he said.

“When we think about the LGBT[Q+] rights movement that happened in Stonewall, trans people of color were at the front and center of that movement,” he said. “Black History Month is in February, which the people we usually learn about is Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, which is important. But we don’t know about history around Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and trans women of color who have changed civil rights,” he said.

People can be a visible ally by joining trans organizations, showing up to events such as the vigil and supporting trans artists and work. They can also support, respect, and honor trans people, Sataraka said.

Cerqueira said everybody can spread awareness of anti-trans violence by sharing information on social media and even including the names of victims to create visibility