Several Chicago universities will honor Transgender Day of Remembrance this year by hosting vigils and other events for Transgender Awareness Week, which kicked off Monday.
The day of remembrance was first held in San Francisco in 1999 to remember Rita Hester, a 34-year-old African-American transgender woman who was found stabbed to death in her near-Boston home on Nov. 28, 1998. Police officers found no signs of forced entry in her apartment, and nothing had been stolen, leading members of the local transgender community to believe she had been murdered because of her gender identity as a male-to-female trans individual.
Since her death, her legacy has spread to other cities around the country that annually commemorate not only Hester, but countless others who have died as the result of hate crimes and violence toward transgender people.
"[Trans individuals] are one of the most overlooked and excluded segments of the mainstream queer community even though they have, by far, the most on their plate in terms of discrimination and inequality," said Christian Keeve, 19, an environmental science and urban studies sophomore at Northwestern University. "For far too many trans* individuals, the fight for rights is superseded by the fight for survival. Since the openly trans* population at Northwestern seems like little more than a handful, the university should definitely be showing support, seeing as they have a stake in their students emotional and physical well-being, and not just their academics."
Here are a few Chicago campuses hosting upcoming events as part of Transgender Awareness Week and Trans*Month (asterisk denotes inclusion of everyone who might fall under the transgender umbrella):
DePaul University, with LGBTQ organizations Spectrum DePaul and Trans*(formation), will hold a Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil at 7 p.m. Wednesday in DePaul's Lincoln Park Campus Quad.
Northwestern University will host a Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday on campus near The Rock, in between University Hall and Harris Hall. The ceremony will be held in collaboration with the university's Rainbow Alliance and Project ShoutOUT. More at the Northwestern University LGBT Resource Center website.
Roosevelt University will be holding events for Trans*Month during the entire month of November. Upcoming events:
>> Workshop on Transnormativity, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday at 430 S. Michigan Ave, AUD 420.
>> About Face Youth Theater performance, "What's the T?" from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 27 in Roosevelt's Congress Lounge.
>> Trans* Ally Workshop and Luncheon, 1 to 2 p.m. Nov. 29 at the Wabash Building, Room 418.
Erin Vogel is a RedEye special contributor.
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