Members of the Queer Leadership Council (QLC) set out tea-light candles next to pictures of transgender people killed by anti-trans violence, holding a moment of silence in their honor.
“It is essential that we reclaim their humanity, tell their stories, grieve the holes their deaths have left, and work to uproot the hatred that allowed them to be killed,” said Nathan Schirtzinger, QLC associate director and MCAS ’24.
QLC hosted the vigil in Gasson 100 on Transgender Day of Remembrance—observed annually on Nov. 20—to honor people who died as a result of anti-trans violence over the past year. As attendees entered, they were each given a piece of paper with the name of one of these victims.
Schirtzinger urged attendees to remember the lives of murdered trans people and to continue fighting for them.
“It is essential that we reclaim our own humanity from a system that tells us not to care, not to look, not to get involved,” Schirtzinger said.
Schirtzinger also shared a statistic from Forbes, reporting that at least 320 trans and gender-diverse people across the world were killed over the last year.
“And 25 people have been killed here in the United States,” Schirtzinger said. “These names [on the distributed slips of paper] only represent those recorded and verified.”
Claire Mengel, QLC intersectionality coordinator and MCAS ’26, shared that trans people experience irregularly high rates of violence in the United States.
“A trans person has been murdered in this country about every 8.7 days this year,” Mengel said.
Schirtzinger read another statistic from the Human Rights Campaign, reporting that over 508 newly introduced state legislations from 2023 target LGBTQ+ people. According to Schirtzinger, the majority of these bills uniquely impact trans and gender-nonconforming persons.
“In 2023 alone, 84 of these bills have become law,” Schirtzinger said. “This is, however, only the latest tactic of systemic violence against trans people in this country. This violence has been nurtured in this country since its founding.”
The recent surge in anti-trans legislation has also negatively impacted the safety and well-being of trans people, according to Aidan Seguin, QLC director and MCAS ’25.
“These initiatives targeting queer—and specifically trans folk—are vicious … they’re steeped in decades of anti-trans hate,” Seguin said. “The resurgence of this vile vitriol and fear mongering represents the scapegoating of a people who just want to be free and live truthfully.”
Stephanie Silva, AHANA+ Leadership Council general coordinator and MCAS ’25, said that violence against trans individuals is a notably intersectional issue.
“Whether you’re queer, a person of color, or any intersection of marginalized identities, we must recognize that the struggles of the trans community are inseparable from our own,” Silva said.
Seguin said he is trying to focus on the joy, creativity, and activism of the trans individuals who were killed.
“Among the lives lost, we find community leaders and advocates,” Seguin said. “They had families. They had loved ones. And they will be missed dearly.”
Seguin ended the vigil with a call to action, urging attendees to advocate for the transgender community.
“This upcoming year, I urge you to get involved in trans issues,” Seguin said. “I urge you to learn more about the trans community. I urge you to promote trans support funds. I urge you to vote.”
Correction (Nov. 28, 2023 4:28 p.m.): This article was corrected from a previous version to clarify that Schirtzinger said “work to uproot” instead of “workshop through.”