Jul 13, 2020

Remembering transgender lives lost through hate

By Ron Camacho and Hayley Salazar

A mother who lost her daughter to suicide was the keynotes speaker at the second Transgender Day of Remembrance last Wednesday in North Gym, Room 118.

Allison Murphy, who lost her daughter to suicide in 2010, discussed the loss of her daughter and the importance to become an educated ally to those facing hate and inner “demons” during transition.

“We lost Chloe to the killer – suicide.” Murphy said. “She struggled to find hope and self-acceptance in this sometimes very cruel world. There were some days she would deny herself of happiness, self-love and self-acceptance. These days were more often than not.”

The event consisted of a question-and-answer session with three transgender students and ended with a moment of silence while the names of trans victims and their causes of death played on a slide show.

Sabrina Stevenson, a media, communications and journalism senior said she volunteered to speak to stand up for herself and the transgender community. She said the recent election is a sign that the transgender community needs to stay united.  

“After the election, I found out that two of my trans friends had committed suicide in response to feeling hopeless,” Stevenson said. “I used to feel hopeless. By staying silent, I was giving all those people who assaulted me, name-called me, who were fundamentalist bigots, I was giving them power. Being up on the stage is a way for me to honor the people that were listed who died or committed suicide, and further the cause that they would have lived for.”

Student Jude Jackson, the main organizer of the event, said the event helps spread awareness of anti-transgender violence.

“It’s definitely a statement that trans people are here. That trans students need Fresno State’s ally ship,” Jackson said. “We want to say that we recognize you, we support you, and we’re trying to put an end to the violence against you.”

Jackson organized the event with the help of the Cross Cultural and Gender Center.

Campus and community groups such as United Student Pride and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Allies Network were present.

“I had lots of help. I constantly relied on my co-workers and community groups like Trans Emotion,” Jackson said, “But to have built this from scratch, to have done it and to have hosted it, and to have successfully got the things that we wanted to get done feels great.”

Guests were invited to visit booths hosted by organizations and programs offered on and off campus. Each organization offered information for those in search of support and/or ways to become involved with the cause.

In front of the Hoover High School GSA Club booth, a row of paper tombstones decorated with flowers and notes of kindness were presented to honor those in the LGBT+ community lost to hate and violence.

“Nooni Norwood, 30 years old. Cause of death: gunshot wound. Location of death: Richmond, Virginia. Date of death: Nov. 5, 2016,” read a memorial which was taped to the top of a table. The auditorium was filled with similar images with the names, ages and causes of death of victims.

The goal for some booths was to remind the community that its members are never alone.

My LGBT Plus, an off-campus program dedicated to connecting, interacting and supporting the LGBT+ community, handed out buttons along with its information pamphlets.  

Justin Kamimoto, My LGBT Plus founder and program director, said, “The ‘plus’ is inclusive of everybody to maintain that we have a resource that will always be inclusive of everyone.”

Coordinator of Gender Programs and Services Jessica Adams, who assisted Jackson in organizing the event, said she wants to ensure trans students are safe at Fresno State.

“We have staff and faculty who go through training on how to support trans and LGBT students so they can provide safe spaces,” Adams said.

She said trans students must continue to speak out and work with administrators to achieve their goals.

“Faculty and administrators need to be educated about these issues. We need to focus on who’s educating our students,” Adams said.

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