FAU diversity center recognizes National Transgender Day of Remembrance

Around 30 students and faculty members gathered to remember the 28 transgender reported murders in the U.S. this year.

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FAU diversity center recognizes National Transgender Day of Remembrance

FAU's Center for IDEAs hosted a vigil on Wednesday in honor of National Transgender Day of Remembrance. Photo by Kristen Grau

FAU's Center for IDEAs hosted a vigil on Wednesday in honor of National Transgender Day of Remembrance. Photo by Kristen Grau

FAU's Center for IDEAs hosted a vigil on Wednesday in honor of National Transgender Day of Remembrance. Photo by Kristen Grau

FAU's Center for IDEAs hosted a vigil on Wednesday in honor of National Transgender Day of Remembrance. Photo by Kristen Grau

Alexis Moraitis, Contributing Writer

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R.J. Guerra wasn’t born a boy — but knew that he was a boy at 13 years old. In front of around 30 FAU students and faculty, he said his family was unsupportive of his transition from female to male — but with a supportive network from FAU, he learned it was just about finding the right time to be himself. 

“Being trans, for me, is just being myself,” Guerra said. 

He and others gathered for this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance to commemorate the 28 trans people who were murdered. FAU’s Center for Inclusion, Diversity Education and Advocacy (IDEAs) hosted the event in the Majestic Palm Room of Student Union on Wednesday, where LGBT people spoke about what it means to be a part of that community. 

Gabriella Miernik, the founder and president of FAU’s first gender-neutral Greek life organization Lambda Alpha Lambda (LAL), spoke about the importance of including and accepting trans people both on and off campus.

“We must continue to fight for justice [in the LGTBQ community],” she said. “While visibility of trans people has certainly increased, I also understand systems in our country still discriminate.”

Miernik also addressed how women of color are the ones largely affected by transphobic violence in the United States. Of the 28 trans deaths this year, all but three were African American.

Guerra and Karre Kenshaw, who is also trans, read the names, ages and hometowns of the transgender murder victims this year — followed by a moment of silence.

When group discussion questions began, attendees talked about what they thought was the biggest threat to trans people. Guerra quickly said, “violence.”

Since 2015, the Human Rights Campaign has tracked the number of transgender murders in the US. Here’s the breakdown of those that are reported: 

  • 2015: 21 deaths 
  • 2016: 21 deaths 
  • 2017: 25 deaths
  • 2018: 22 deaths 
  • 2019: 28 (at least)

Many of the trans homicides this year went unsolved, but their loved ones are still searching for closure. Miernik called out the criminal justice system and said trans homicides should be handled the same as other homicides. 

Other group discussion topics were, “What does transphobia look like to you?” and “What are actions you can take to promote trans inclusivity?” Students from LAL joined the groups to give their perspectives and advice on how to be allies to the community.

These are the names and ages of the trans people whose deaths were reported this year:

Tydi Dansbury, 37

Kelly Stough, a.k.a Keanna Mattel, 36

Dana Martin, 31

Ashanti Carmon, 27

Claire Legato, 21

Muhlaysia Booker, 23

Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington, 40

Paris Cameron, 20

Chynal Lindsey, 26

Chanel Scurlock, 23

Zoe Spear, 23

Brooklyn Lindsey, 32

Denali Berries Stuckey, 29

Tracy Single, 22

Bubba Walker, 55

Kiki Fantroy, 21

Jordan Cofer, 22

Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, 24

Bailey Reeves, 17

Bee Love Slater, 23

Jamagio Jamar Berryman

Italia Marlowe, 29

Brianna “BB” Hill, 30

Alexis Moraitis is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected]