Roughly 66 transgender people were murdered this year in the U.S, said Brad Freihoefer, director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Student Services.
International Transgender Day of Remembrance is a recognized day to honor those in the transgender community who have lost their lives from acts of hate.
“People have lost loved ones, family members, and partners due to the choices of others regarding gender. That’s heartbreaking,” Freihoefer said.
Freihoefer said the day is held not only as a vigil for those murdered, but as a day to “make sure that people become aware that this is a real issue.”
We have to realize we can actually do something to change this, Freihoefer said.
In order to do so, he said students, parents and people in general need to ask what gender really is.
“We all have an idea of what gender is, but we may not understand the broad spectrum of what it really is,” said Freihoefer.
He said it’s necessary to have these difficult lengthy conversations, but without them, progress cannot be made and inclusive welcome spaces will be few and far between.
For some of our students, they experience someone getting their name wrong, gender wrong or pronouns wrong all because of how they’re choosing to express their gender, said Freihoefer.
Jasmine Scholefield, member of Gamma Rho Lambda and a senior in mechanical engineering, helped sponsor GRL’s events in the Park’s Library quad.
By the sidewalk, there was a canvas and a bucket full of multicolored balloons full of paint. The canvas was already heavily colored in paint, meaning many people had paid a dollar to toss a balloon. The money went to a local organization that seeks to help transgendered people.
She said the balloons were being used as a metaphor to bring awareness not only about transgender issues, but cisgender — identifying with your biological sex — privilege as well.
“Many cisgender people don’t understand all the privileges they have, and take them for granted. It’s important for students to be aware of it,” Scholefield said.
The canvas that the balloons were being thrown at was covered in tape in the shapes of gender-neutral signs.
“As balloons hit the canvas, it’s essentially shattering the stereotypes and privileges, and I think that’s really cool,” said Scholefield.
Stereotyping and brutality seem to go hand in hand.
Freihoefer said the majority of those who lost their lives this year are transgender women of color and that this could be because of certain systems of oppression set up by society.
“Racism, genderism, sexism and socioeconomic status are all at play. The important thing is to recognize that there is a great threat to transgender women of color’s safety,” he said, “Yet, we’ve got some of the most powerful out transgender women of color out right now like, Laverne Cox.”
Students at Iowa State are event affected by this day of remembrance.
“For some of our students, they experience someone getting their name wrong, gender wrong, or pronouns wrong all because of how they’re choosing to express their gender” said Freihoefer.
“A lot of college aged students, but really people of any age, deal with this idea of identifying in a way that is not culturally accepted. A lot of times you may not even know that they do identify as transgender,” Scholefield said.