About 50 students gathered in White Plaza on the night of Friday, November 21 to participate in a candlelight vigil on the Transgender Day of Remembrance hosted by Stanford Students for Queer Liberation.
Talia Charmé-Zane ’17 introduced the vigil with her co-planners Nadia Stoufflet ’16 and Lily Zheng ’17.
“We are here tonight because 268 transgender women were murdered in the last year. We are here tonight because of 268, only 174 get names,” Charmé-Zane told the crowd.
After the introduction, Stoufflet and Zheng proceeded to read the names of 174 transgender women who were murdered in 2014. They did not name but still acknowledged the other 94 women that were also killed.
After the reading of the names, the crowd held a moment of silence. The final part of the vigil was an interactive exercise, during which attendees were asked a series of questions and were asked to cross a line depending on their answers.
The vigil then officially ended and participants were welcomed to a follow-up event at the LGBT Community Resource Center.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was initiated by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 1998 to pay respects to Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered that year. Today, vigils are held on many college campuses across the country.
According to Charmé-Zane, 78 percent of gender non-conforming youth report abuse and discrimination at school and a transgender woman is murdered every 32 hours.
The majority of the people lost to anti-transgender violence have been women of color, said Stoufflet and Zheng. Stanford Students for Queer Liberation wanted to take this into account in their planning.
“We wanted to represent these people, not just have two white people running the event,” Stoufflet said.
Zheng described the day as being very emotional for her.
“When I look at pictures of these women, I feel like I could be looking at myself. I wanted to be here so people could see,” Zheng said. Zheng is also a columnist for The Stanford Daily.
Attendee Nick Wheat ’18 described the event as a chance to “hear the names and see the faces, and to truly reflect.”
Contact Ada Throckmorton at adastat ‘at’ stanford.edu.