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Mills celebrates Trans Day of Remembrance

Members of the Mills community recently gathered in Adams Plaza to honor the transgender individuals who lost their lives over the past year.

Transgender Day of Remembrance,  Nov. 20, is a day dedicated to paying tribute to those all over the world in the transgender community who were murdered as a result of transphobia. The day also aims to bring attention to the continued violence against the transgender community that occurs on a daily basis.

To honor those who have passed, members of the Mills community gathered in Adams Plaza with an activity led by the Center for Leadership, Equity, and Excellence. The memorial ceremony consisted of tying ribbons with the names of the deceased individual to the branch of a tree and speaking the name as they tied it.

“For me, it’s really about honoring the names,” Alfredo Del Cid, event organizer and assistant director of the Social Justice Resource Center said. “That is a tradition that has come in from a lot of different traditions of speaking the names of those we have lost.”

The event drew a diverse crowd of staff, faculty and students. Among them were President Elizabeth Hillman, Dean of Students Chicora Martin, Chaplain Dara Olandt, and Volleyball Coach Jack Cowden, all of whom took the time to tie a ribbon to the tree.

For some of the participants, the tragic nature of the event evoked many emotions, but many, like students and Spiritual and Religious Life Program Assistant Natalia Sandoval, found comfort in their fellow peers.

“It’s nice to know you aren’t totally alone,” Sandoval said. “I think that’s something you can forget sometimes.”

Along with the ceremony, students were also provided with information on how to be a strong ally of the transgender community. The small guide included information to help correct social issues faced by transgender people and strengthen the relationship between the transgender community and their on-campus allies.

Mills College hosted its first Transgender Day of Remembrance in 2014, the same year it began accepting transgender students. The event started with Erin Armstrong, the first transgender student admitted to Mills, giving a speech to Mills Hall. Since then ceremonies have been held by the campus organization Gender Splendor, leading to this year being hosted by the Center.

“I think it makes us more aware of what’s going on,” second-year Anneke Moser said. “Not just on the Mills campus but internationally.”

Since the world’s first Transgender Day of Remembrance in 1999, the event has grown, with organizations like the Transgender Europe monitoring the reported homicides against transgender people to compile a list of individuals to honor including their name, where and when they were killed as well as the cause of death. This year the event honored over 325 reported cases of murdered transgender individuals worldwide.

“For us, Trans Day of Remembrance is also about action,” Del Cid said. “We don’t want it to be ‘say the names’ and forget about it, but rather continue to make sure we are fighting for justice and for access and for equality for trans identifying folk.”