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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Vigil honors victims of violence

Ernie Somoza
Ernie Somoza / Arizona Daily Wildcat Chris Kosters, chemistry and cellular biology senior lights candles that were placed in the fountain in front of old main in remembrance of the 222 reported transgender deaths since last November 21. It is reported that a transgender person dies every other day.

The ASUA Pride Alliance hosted a candlelight vigil and silent procession for people who died as a result of hate crimes to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The event, which took place by the Old Main Fountain, brought more than 100 people who read the names, dates, locations and cause of deaths for all 222 recorded transgender deaths around the world provided by the Trans Murder Monitoring Project.

“People are starting to notice, but it is up to us as a community to never let them forget,” said Erin Russ, Southern Arizona Gender Alliance program coordinator and anti-violence program advocate, during a speech to introduce the reading of the names and the lighting of candles, which floated in the fountain and also represented the number of transgender people who died of hate-related crimes. Before the vigil began, 62 candles were lit for the names of people they did not have.

“We need to remember those who have died so their lives will go on and that their lives will have some meaning in bringing about change,” Russ said.

During the vigil, attendees held kites from the Made for Flight event on the UA Mall earlier this week. Made for Flight is a project where local high schools and youth in Tucson create and decorate kites to educate people on transgender issues, said Pride Alliance co-director Christina Bischoff, a junior studying ecology and evolutionary biology. The kites were also held during the silent procession from University Boulevard to Fourth Avenue that began after the names were read.

“Hopefully people will see this event as having an impact and will look into what it means to be an ally,” said Chris Kosters, a chemistry senior and Pride Alliance intern.

The day of remembrance was the last event the Pride Alliance held for its Transgender Awareness Week, which featured a variety of campus programs shedding light on transgender-related issues.

“I’m really impressed by the turnout this whole week,” said Stephan Przybylowicz, a graduate student studying information resources and library sciences and a Pride Alliance co-director. “The campus has been really supportive of us and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) issues in general.”

Pride Alliance hosted the week of events in collaboration with the UA’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Questioning Student Affairs, Wingspan, a local LGBT community center and the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance. Bischoff said the reason for the larger turnout was because all of the events were on campus whereas in prior years, a number of their programs took place at Wingspan headquarters.

“At the UA, it’s a bubble here,” Bischoff said. “People don’t know what is going on outside. We don’t have too many hate crimes here and there isn’t a ton of discrimination.”

Beginning in the spring semester, the Pride Alliance will offer trans-advocacy internships to students interested in planning events and programs pertaining to transgender issues.

“Transgender awareness has to continue on past this week,” Przybylowicz said. “Now it is what can we do in our communities to keep it going and keep the awareness up and keep helping trans-people.”

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