Students paint rocks for Transgender Day of Rememberance

Rain or shine, the LGBTQ center adapted and brought the event indoors, and personalized it by painting individual rocks rather than the bigger rock by Rockwell. The event took place at the LGBTQ center in the lower level of Kent State Student Center on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Photo by Anu Sharma.

Student Center graduate assistant Jasmine Benson-Williams began Thursday’s Trans Day of Remembrance event with a speech recognizing that, while trans visibility is on the rise, so is violence against the community.

Beth Pelton, a senior geology major, celebrates Trans Remembrance day by painting rocks in support of their trans friends. They said they have a few friends who are trans and were bullied because of it. To them, Trans Remembrance day means honoring trans friends. Photo by Anu Sharma.

According to Benson-Williams, 23 trans people have been killed in the US this year, with two of the deaths occurring in northeastern Ohio. The majority of these deaths were trans women of color, who are disproportionately at risk for anti-trans violence.

While the LGBTQ Student Center staff had intended to paint the campus rock in honor of the dead, the rain and ice covering the rock caused a change in the plan. Instead, staff and interns picked up rocks from around campus and brought them into the student center to paint. Students were encouraged to put their rocks around campus when the event was over and the blue, white, and pink paint was dry.

Kat Rinella, a senior psychology student, was already in the student center before the event took place, but she took

Kat Rinella and fellow student Cameron Aloway paint individual rocks together in the LGBTQ center in the lower level of Student Center on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Photo by Anu Sharma.

part to show her support for the trans community. The majority of attendees said they were concerned about anti-trans violence, either as trans individuals themselves or as allies.

“It’s a day to honor the trans people that came before us,” Rinella said. “They paved the road so we could have the freedoms we have now.”

Benson-Williams said that allies can help prevent anti-trans violence by stepping in when they see someone being aggressive toward someone because of their gender identity. She referenced Green Dot’s bystander intervention plan; “Distract, delegate, call the police.”

A list of those killed this year due to anti-trans violence can be found at the Transgender Day of Remembrance website. Trans Day of Remembrance is November 20th.

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