The Online Beacon

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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The Transgender Day of Remembrance and How Students Can be Allies

Photo+by+professor+of+communications+Michael+Birch.
Photo by professor of communications Michael Birch.

On Monday, October 20th, MCLA’s Gender & Sexuality Center and Queer Student Union held the Transgender Day of Remembrance & Resilience Vigil. In an email sent to all students, written by Ara Phoenixx, Program Coordinator of the Gender and Sexuality Center, the event was explained. The vigil took place from 10am to 6pm in Sullivan Lounge. At this vigil, students were invited to, “Peruse the altar and take in the names at [their] own pace, leave a message for community members, and light a (flame-free) candle to add to the altar.” 

At 5pm, a name reading ceremony and a toast were conducted to honor the many transgender lives lost in the past year. Since November of 2022, the reported amount of deaths of transgender individuals is 320, 109 of them hailing from the United States. Of the 109 individuals who have passed in the last year in the United States, 53 of these deaths have been due to violence, and 33 of them are the result of suicide.

Phoenixx explains why this event is of such importance as, “on this day we stand, to honor our fallen community members, to assert that the continued violence must end, and to proclaim our resilience, even in the face of grief.” 

This Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience Vigil is far from the first of its kind, as Vice President of Queer Student Union and GSC Intern Kristopher Safford ‘26 explains, stating that, “QSU and the GSC have held a vigil for Transgender Day of Remembrance for many years before [they] got here at MCLA.” MCLA has a history of advocating for transgender individuals, as Safford explains that, “MCLA does a lot better than most colleges at accommodating transgender students.”

This takes the form of easy accessibility to request a name change on class rosters and making “bathroom use accessible with all the gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.” Safford also highlights that the college, “[has] a very good policy with students and professors/staff if they are misgender[ing] people out of dislike.”

While many of the students support and advocate for transgender rights and acceptance, there is always more that can be done, potentially in the form of, “rais[ing] more awareness by keeping aware of what’s happening in the world as there is a lot of hate winning in the United States alone.”

As for specific organizations, Safford states that, “The Trevor Project is a very good charity to support transgender lives through along [with] many other charities in the U.S.” The Trevor Project’s mission, as stated on the organization’s website, is to, “end suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning young people.”

In the United States, “The Trevor Project estimates that there are over 1.8 million LGBTQ youth in the United States seriously considering suicide each year.” The Trevor Project assists LGBTQ+ individuals who deal with suicidal thoughts by offering crisis services, advocacy, research, peer support, and education/public awareness. Individuals interested in getting involved can donate or learn how to volunteer at thetrevorproject.org. 

[Queer Student Union (QSU) and the [Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC)] are trying their best to be of/by/for the MCLA student population,” explains Safford, “the events we put on are for the awareness and education of the community to better improve the campus atmosphere and knowledge on Queer issues.” 

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