Newswire photo by Brittany Wells | Xavier LGBTQ+ Alliance members tabled for Transgender Day of Remembrance to raise awareness and support for the trans community.
The transgender community is an underrepresented sect of Xavier students. In the Ignatian spirit of Cura Personalis and standing for and with the marginalized, Xavier LGBTQ+ Alliance (Alliance) hosted Trans+ Week of Awareness activities culminating in tabling for Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) on Nov. 20. The week included collaborations with the library and Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI).
The Trans+ Week of Awareness provided an opportunity for students and staff to support trans students on campus, as well as education on why that support is needed.
The International TDOR is observed annually to memorialize transphobia-motivated murders. Alliance’s Trans+ Week of Awareness acted as a way to spread education and awareness of the violence that affects the trans community.
As part of TDOR tabling students, faculty and even Father B wrote notes of encouragement for transgender students. Alliance’s tabling was complete with trans positive stickers, art work and information on how to act as an ally for the trans community.
Oliver-Rose Baker, president of Alliance shared that “We (chose) to have people… write letters of support so that trans folx on campus could receive reassurance from the mouths of Xavier’s community.”
Alliance hoped to bring light to the intersection of racism and transphobia that trans people of color face. Assistant Director of CDI and Alliance staff advisor Maria Merrill explained “Specifically trans women of color make up some 95% of those killed in hate crimes against the trans community.” Merrill argues that knowing about their unique struggles enable allies to be supportive advocates of trans folx.
Baker sees standing with the trans community as an obligation of Xavier’s Jesuit mission of solidarity.
Trans students can be concerned about their physical safety due to bias and the amount of violence against the trans community. Baker explained how the violence against the trans community affects her time at Xavier. “As a trans person, personal safety is always at the forefront of my mind, especially in this (political) climate.”
The tabling could also lead to conversations about trans people of color’s role in LGBTQ+ history, that is often excluded from the narrative. Baker emphasized, “Trans women of color are… reason as to why we can now openly be queer and have celebratory events such as pride.”
Sophomore Tyler Gilkey, who visited the table, echoed the importance of education on the erasure of trans people of color from LGBTQ+ history. “What is desperately needed within the queer community is an understanding of the history of how we got to where we are today.”
Baker explained that the erasure has continued onto the exclusion of trans folx within the LGBTQ+ community today. “Trans people are often left out of revolutionary legislation, education, medicine and general awareness. Trans folx also have the highest rates of suicide, sexual violence, and hate crime of any group,” Baker said.
Alliance Treasurer sophomore Kate Roach said, “For a short two-hour period Alliance and the CDI tried to make a safe and supportive space for trans students. We hope to continue to keep the environment of support and safety on campus.
Alliance has worked to expand the visibility of the club, through recent collaborations with Common Ground in the Center for Faith and Justice on the series Queerness and Christianity, as well as increasing advertisement for this year’s Hallowqueen Drag Show and Queeries, an exclusively queer community group.
Baker explained that while the club certainly fostered an isolated community of LGBTQ+ individuals and allies in the past, the club wanted to improve their presence on campus. Moving forward, “It’s our goal to become as inclusive as possible, reaching out to all identities, and it is this that has pushed us to become more visible on campus. We strive to educate, motivate and celebrate,” Baker said.
By: Brittany Wells | Staff Writer