In the freezing air of the November night a circle of about twenty people stood solemnly in a circle on the platform that sits between the University Library and the Students’ Union, reports Calum Watt.
The sounds of the city; the constant hum of distant traffic, people walking in small groups chatting amongst themselves, and the faint peeling of the bells of Lincoln Cathedral drifting on the chilly night air fading into the background as we stood in silence to remember.
This was Transgender Remembrance Day, observed yesterday (20 November). The ceremony was part of an international event organised here by transgender student Morgan Hall-Roberts to remember those who have died as result of violence against transgender people around the world in the last year.
Among those present were the SU’s VP Welfare & Community, Olivia Hill, Women’s Officer Natasha Chapman, and Alexander Hall, the transgender rep of the LGBT liberation committee, who was recently successful in his campaign to have transgender and non-gender binary students at the University formally granted a Liberation Group. The new group has yet to be approved by the SU Executive but was ratified unanimously at student council on 17 November.
Ms Hall-Roberts spoke eloquently but harshly of the experiences of transgender people, that many of those present – even cisgender folk, many of whom have friends who suffer with gender dysphoria, know only too well; street harassment is extremely common, while being ostracised by friends and family members is a reality unthinkable to most but a routine occurrence for trans people.
Morgan reminded her audience that the list of those that had died this year did not include those who eventually decided that life is no longer worth suffering through and choose to end it themselves.
Each succeeding speech was interspersed with the reading by of the names, the location and nature of death of those who have perished at the hands of the intolerant in our society since 2013. The list is quite harrowing, including a 46-year-old stoned to death in Colombia and a 23-year-old Brazilian thrown from a vehicle and run over. A more complete list can be seen here.
But the mood amongst the group was not at all helpless; indeed there was a certain air of defiance present on that foggy evening.
Each speech spoke of need to ensure that these people are remembered – that Trans people are recognised by the media and represented in and encouraged to participate in society and victories, however small are always welcome.
Whilst at the gathering, Olivia Hill confirmed that plans for a gender neutral toilet on the University campus are racing ahead. Once in place, it will finally provide trans members of our community with a safe facility to use, away from the sort of harassment which they often experience in the seclusion of the washroom.
Women’s Officer Natasha Chapman reaffirmed hers and the Women’s Group support for dealing with intolerance in emotive speech, declaring: “I promise transphobia won’t go unchecked on my watch.”
In Lincoln, at least, it seems there is a determination to see that transgender and non-binary members of our community are given the respect they deserve, and the dignity and confidence to come out and speak out for themselves and others who face discrimination in society.
A two-minutes silence was held to remember those who had died after which the meeting was concluded by Morgan: “Thank you for coming… hopefully there will be a day when we have no more need of Transgender Remembrance Day but [for now]… We will remember.”Tweet