Transgender Day of Remembrance, observed annually Nov. 20, honors those who have died as a result of transgender violence.
Spectrum, Lehigh’s student-run organization dedicated to providing educational and social support for those in the LGBTQ+ community, is hosting its own Transgender Day of Remembrance on Monday as a call to action for the campus community.
Transgender Day of Remembrance was started in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender woman who wanted to honor the life of her transgender friend, Rita Hester, who was murdered in Allston, Massachusetts.
Since then, the movement has gained a large following and has become a global commemoration. Annual proceedings include reading out the names of those who have lost their lives to transgender violence in the past year, as well as vigils, marches, film screenings and art shows.
Spectrum will hold its remembrance event at 5:30 p.m. at the UC flagpole, where the transgender pride flag will be hung for two days. A rally and vigil will be held to pay respect to the victims of transgender violence of the past year.
The flag has five horizontal stripes — two blue stripes, two pink stripes and one white stripe in the middle — which represent males, females and those who feel they have no gender, have a neutral gender or are transitioning.
“The transgender pride flag exists to bring visibility to the transgender community and to promote advocacy within the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Scott Burden, the assistant director of the Pride Center, which provides advising and guidance for Spectrum.
However, the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Monday will be run entirely by Spectrum. Burden said the event should bring awareness to the reality of the situation and raise the issue for the movement for LGBTQIA+ equality.
“The Pride Center is proud to support Spectrum in their efforts to organize this rally, and continues to advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion through programming, student engagement and leadership development, education and training, and the creation of inclusive policies and practices,” said Chelsea Fullerton, the director of the Pride Center.
Bobby Cole, ’19, said he hopes the flag will have a large impact because it will be displayed at a central location on campus.
“If everyone sees it on Monday and Tuesday, people will feel proud,” Cole said. “They will be proud that Lehigh is hanging it and proud to be in a school that is understanding and supportive.”
Burden said flying the flag is significant because it shows Lehigh’s commitment to providing support for transgender students, faculty and staff. He said people need to recognize the disproportionate amount of violence that trans people regularly face.