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Canisius Unity holds vigil for Transgender Day of Remembrance

By Julia Barth, Editor in Chief

This past Sunday, Dec. 4, Unity– Canisius’s LGBTQ+ and allyship club– and Campus Ministry held a memorial vigil for Transgender Day of Remembrance at Christ the King Chapel.

The event included an introduction to what Transgender Day of Remembrance is, a reading of the names of transgender people who have died, a moment of silence, a prayer from Campus Ministry for those lost and closing remarks.

Unity President Lio Salazar said that the event had a large turnout with many students and faculty in attendance. “It went great,” they said. “Of the number of seats in the chapel, all but two were filled.”

Salazar discussed the traditions that come with Transgender Day of Remembrance, saying that they gathered a list of names from websites and organizations of transgender and nonbinary people who lost their lives in the past year. “Typically for a Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil there’s an introduction about what it is and then there is a list of names read out,” they said.

At the event, the e-board of Unity went around and read bios of the people included in the vigil, saying a little bit about each of them, how they died and how they’re remembered. They also held moments of silence for each victim. Campus Ministry said a prayer for the victims as well and Salazar said that many attendees were appreciative of Unity for holding the event.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is usually held on Nov. 20 each year (Canisius’s vigil was a rescheduled date), and is meant to “honor the memory of transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgedner violence,” according to GLAAD, an organization founded by LGBTQ+ people in the United States.

This annual observance was started in 1999 by transgender activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith, who held a vigil to honor Rita Hester, a transgender woman who died in 1998. Now, it is tradition for places all around the country to hold vigils to honor victims of transphobic violence every year. Salazar said that they were happy to be able to hold a vigil at Canisius.

Unity also has many events coming up for the spring semester including holding an “Always Our Children Retreat” in partnership with Campus Ministry sometime early March, a monologue event with Little Theater talking about identity and community and a possible drag show that is in the works with Student Engagement and the Undergraduate Student Association. And of course, Unity will be holding an event for Pride in late spring.

Make sure to follow Canisius Unity on Instagram (@/canisiusunity) to find out more about ways to get involved as well as upcoming events.

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