On Thursday night about 25 students gathered in the cold in Kogan Plaza surrounded by candlelight as they took turns reading the names of transgender hate crime victims.
For National Transgender Remembrance Day, members of Allied in Pride, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning student organization, held a vigil commemorating transgender students around the country who were the victims of hate crimes.
“It’s important to raise awareness and educate to stop transphobia,” said senior Emily Jakubowicz, a member of Transgender Education and Action, an Allied in Pride committee that organized the event.
Although the group read about three pages of names, they only briefly touched on the more than 200 registered murders nationwide, group members said. The entries they read included the location of the murder, the year and the student’s name. After reading names, the group held a moment of silence and reflected on ending the violence.
Some members of the organization said they hope events like the vigil will end transgender violence, especially in the District, which is ranked third in the world for transgender murders, said TEA member Amy Dorfman, a senior.
Jakubowicz read from the “Introduction to Transgender Rights,” which advocates for the inclusion of gender identity in the Equal Opportunity Act. Many Fortune 500 companies have included gender identity in their Equal Opportunity clauses, but GW still does not have any mention of it in its official policies, she said.
Sophomore Kaden Trifilio and senior Brynne Sasha Madway, both TEA members, said they have had mixed experiences as transgender students at GW, and said the administration and student body has “a long way to go” in terms of awareness and accommodations like gender-neutral bathrooms and housing options – which have been debated between TEA, Allied in Pride and the University for several months. They added, however, that tolerance for transgender students on campus is high.
Allied in Pride President Michael Komo, a sophomore, said, “It is important to understand the significance of this issue, and events like this help us end discrimination and gain allies.”