Candlelight vigil at DSU honors transgender community

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Dixie State University students and community members showed their support for the transgender community by hosting a candlelight vigil.

Even though Transgender Day of Remembrance was Nov. 20, members of the LGBT Student Association, students and community members gathered in the Gardner Student Center lounge Nov. 21 to pay their respect to those in the transgender community who have lost their lives to anti-transgender violence.

Ray Harris, a senior English major from Alamogordo, New Mexico, and president of the LGBT Student Association, said this is the fifth time the LGBT Student Association has organized a candlelight vigil for Transgender Day of Remembrance, and she said seeing all of the people who showed up was refreshing.

“Showing support for the transgender community and honoring those we have lost is especially important this year,” Harris said.

Harris welcomed the crowd of approximately 20 people and said: “The transgender community deserves to feel valid, safe and important. The transgender community deserves to live as authentically and beautifully as they want.”

The candlelight vigil started with members of the LGBT Student Association reading the names of 26 transgender individuals who have lost their lives to violence in the U.S. in 2016. The vigil ended with a moment of silence for those individuals and with students and community members sharing their thoughts.

Robyn Boudreau, a mentor for the LGBTQ+ Resource Center and a transgender woman, was the first to stand and share her thoughts on Transgender Day of Remembrance.

“This is always a very sad day,” Boudreau said. “I know that degree of hatred has to come from fear.”

Boudreau also spoke about how the recent election has stirred up “tremendous hatred” toward the transgender community. She shared an experience of how a rock was thrown through her transgender friend’s window a few days ago and spoke of other assaults that have happened.

“This was an election where the bullies were enabled,” Boudreau said. “We all have to be on our toes.”

The Gay Straight Alliance Club has come a long way since its creation in 2007, said Doug Gubler, a DSU alumnus and one of the founders of the club.

“The first year we were on campus, we had somebody who thought it was OK to tear down one of our rainbow flags, and they wrote ‘fag’ on it,” Gubler said.

Anti-transgender violence in the U.S. has increased since the election, Boudreau said, but it’s much worse in other countries like Brazil and Mexico. Brazil leads the world in transgender murders, where around 57 transgender people were killed during the first month of 2016, according to an article in the Huffington Post. 

“Things may get a little worse, but I really hope they’ll eventually get better,” Boudreau said.