International Transgender Day of Remembrance memorial service and vigil held on the quad

Transgender Awareness Week banner at the Student Union.

On Saturday, Nov. 20, the West Liberty University Campus and Community Diversity and Inclusion Committee commemorated the Transgender Day of Remembrance by holding a memorial vigil. During the event, a reading of those who have been lost to discriminatory, gender-based violence and hate crimes took place. With each name listed, a transgender pride flag was planted into the ground on WLU’s Campus Quad. The flags being left in the ground to be displayed over the weekend.

Beginning in 1999 to remember the loss of transgender woman Rita Hestor in Boston, Massachusetts, TDoR (Transgender Day of Remembrance) serves not only as a memorial to those who have been lost, but also acts as an opportunity to remember those in the community who are so often disenfranchised and forgotten. To the public, it offers a reminder to continue to progress towards ending the culture of anti-transgender violence and close mindedness.

Campus and Community Diversity and Inclusion Committee member, Izzy Bennett, played a large role in seeing TDoR’s event take place. Speaking on the importance of student visibility, when asked what the day means for our community here on campus; “I myself am new to the West Liberty community, but I know how important being able to raise up and protect the diverse members of our community is. Transgender Day of Remembrance will hopefully help show gender diverse students that they are recognized and welcomed here at West Liberty. The Campus Diversity and Inclusion Community started recognizing TDoR last year, and hopefully being able to recognize it this year will set a precedent for continuing to support our gender diverse community.”

And that is just what the event did. As an attendee of the event, WLU student, Greyson Grimmett, summed up the overall experience of the memorial when asked what they thought of the vigil; “It was beautiful. It was wild and beautiful and emotional, and it really opened my eyes. After the service, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that I could’ve been a name on that list, or that so many of the people in my life could’ve also been named. Now I know that I have to live for the ones who couldn’t, we all do.”

As a final message to the students of WLU, Bennett shared that they only hope that everyone will continue to realize the importance of standing up against gender based violence and transgender harassment. When asked what they want students to take from the event as a whole, Bennet said, “each of us has a part to play in changing the literal decades of culture that has harassed and killed trans and gender diverse people. The result of not pushing for change is the list that we read on TDoR only growing.” While the event was held for the wider campus student population, Bennett remarked that they also want gender diverse students to know that WLU’s campus community cares for them and is here for them, “West Liberty is a place that accepts you and welcomes you. Perhaps most importantly please know that you are not alone in your struggles, and that you are not alone here.”