Queer Student Union (QSU) held a vigil Monday night for the sixth annual national Transgender Remembrance Day.

About 30 students gathered together on the San Nicolas Residence Hall lawn at 6:30 p.m. to show support for transgender victims of hate crimes. The group stood in a circle while holding lighted candles to commemorate the lives of deceased transgender people and to condemn the violence inflicted upon the transgender community. After some participants spoke, the group huddled for a moment of silence.

Some QSU members passed out fliers with definitions applicable to transgender issues. The flier included terms such as “transgender” – an umbrella term used for anyone who alters, through appearance or medical intervention, his or her biological sex – and “intersex,” a person whose sex does not match medical definitions of male or female or a person who has aspects of both sexes. The flier also gave the definition for “transsexual” – a person who seeks to change their body through surgery and hormones to align their sex and gender identity – and various other words pertaining to sexual identity.

Raymond Meza, co-chair of QSU and second-year political science major, said those participating in the event researched the lives of murdered transgender people by reading various biographies.

“One of the biggest things is for people to educate themselves about the transgender community,” he said. “The cases are almost never solved or prosecuted.”

In the future, QSU plans to have workshops on sexuality issues in the residence halls, Meza said. Besides increasing education about transgender issues, the workshops would promote an increase in the number of courses offered by the Women’s Studies Dept. regarding sexual preference and identity, he said.

“At the university level, it’s really important that people realize there are transgender people, gays and lesbians,” Meza said. “[People] shouldn’t come out of the university making derogatory statements because of someone’s sexuality.”

Meza said he felt public officials did not really know what to do with transgender murder cases, and educating police and public officials about transgender people would be one step toward stopping transgender violence. He also said strengthening hate crime laws would move the community in a positive direction.

Joanna Thomas, a second-year psychology major, said she attended the vigil because she wanted to support the mission of QSU.

“I came to the event to be more informed,” she said.

Teresa Vuki, a third-year political science major, said she thought the vigil was a good experience. |

“I’m glad I came, because meeting different people leads to different perspectives,” Vuki said.

Meza said he thought the event conveyed the importance of the issue.

“It was very solemn and really made people think,” he said.