Brandeis community recognizes Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Day of Remembrance lanternsPhoto/Allie Morse

"Lanterns of Remembrance"

Brandeis students, faculty and staff are observing Transgender Day of Remembrance , recognized nationwide each year on Friday, Nov. 20 ,  as a show of unity and support with the transgender community.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance originated in Massachusetts in 1999 to memorialize the murder of Rita Hester, a black transgender woman whose case remains unsolved.

"It's a tragic case," said Maggie Hastings '22, a student worker in the Gender and Sexuality Center at Brandeis, which is organizing virtual activities and events to mark the occasion. "Trans people are frequently victimized and not allowed to exist as they are, and many are killed and their names don't get remembered. That's what we're honoring during the day of remembrance."

Hastings has worked in the Gender and Sexuality Center since last fall and helps lead education programming about LGBTQIA+ issues for students, faculty and staff across the university.

Transgender Day of Remembrance lanterns
Photo/Allie Morse

Brandeis students crafted lanterns in recognition of Transgender Day of Remembrance

For the Transgender Day of Remembrance, she also co-organized "Lanterns of Remembrance," in which community members craft their own lanterns, works of art, poems, or other forms of expression as a show of solidarity and empowerment.

Hastings chose to write Rita Hester's name inside her lantern.

"We're giving our community an outlet to get their feelings out," Hastings said. "If people bottle it up, it's not healthy, and sometimes being creative is the best way to get it all out."

Julián Cancino, the newly-hired inaugural director of the Gender and Sexuality Center, is providing education and resources to LGBTQ+ people and allies at Brandeis. He collaborates closely with offices and departments across campus including the University Ombuds and the Office of Equal Opportunity.

He also says the Gender and Sexuality Center, which is located in the Usdan Student Center, is committed to offering a safe space and resources for anyone at Brandeis.

"On TDoR, we light a candle in honor of friends, loved ones, and community members whose lives we lost to acts of violence," Cancino said. "Together we take a moment to mourn, heal, and imagine a new world. We ponder the imperative of gender justice. We remember that, as the Torah insists, 'Justice, Justice you shall pursue.' Here at Brandeis, the GSC is a resource for those who pursue justice and commit to making the world a more just and inclusive place for all."

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