Remembering lives lost to transgender oppression

Collegian File Photo

Fresno residents gathered last week to remember the lives of transgender people that have been lost to suicide or murder.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance, said Zoyer Zyndel, event chair of Trans-E-Motion, raises awareness about the level of violence affecting the transgender community.

“It also sends the message that violence against transgender people is not OK and should not be accepted,” Zyndel said. “Transgender people existed before this event and will continue to exist after this event and are part of your campus community.”

The memorial was held Nov. 20 in the North Gym at Fresno State. It was also a resource fair that featured performances and speakers.

Zyndel said 32 transgender people were victims of violence or suicide since last year – five of whom were in the central San Joaquin Valley.

“My friends who’ve been murdered because of suicide and have been misgendered: I like that they give them full recognition here at Fresno State,” said Ronnie Kassis, also known as Veronica, a gender-nonconforming person.

The event was special for Kassis in part because transgender people who have died are remembered just as they would have wished.

“If I die as Ms. Veronica Jones and I’m in full drag, I want to be identified that way if I die,” Kassis added. “So I like how they whole-heartedly and 100 percent make sure that they’re identified properly and respected.”

Paris Nicole, a trans woman, performed a Bollywood dance to Selena Gomez’s “Come and Get It” to show support for those who are transitioning or who have died. Her performance was a show of strength that honored those who never could express themselves fully.

“As for the ones that passed on,” Nicole said, “it saddens me that they didn’t get a chance to have this type of outlet. It’s very unfortunate that their lives were cut short due to someone else’s misunderstanding.”

Kassis said their personal identity fluctuates from male to female and back, is intermixed or absent. She said that often makes it hard for them to fit in. At remembrance events like the one held at Fresno State, those worries vanish.

“It’s really good that we can all come together and remember the fallen brothers and sisters of the trans community but also the nonbinary and nonconforming [members],” Kassis said.

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