Candlelit vigil honors lives lost on Transgender Day of Remembrance


Charger Bulletin/Mia Adduci

Liv Knight speaks during the vigil, West Haven, Nov. 18, 2022.

Transgender Visibility Week aims to bring awareness to the transgender community and the experiences surrounding their lives. In light of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, when people honor the lives lost due to anti-transgender violence, PRIDE and the Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion hosted an intimate candlelit vigil.

The room greeted those who entered with a large transgender pride flag on the wall, along with a large screen which projected the names and faces of each of the individuals who fell victim to discriminatory violence this past year.

Liv Knight, a senior computer science major, led the ceremony.

They provided context on the history surrounding Transgender Day of Remembrance and its observation at the university. Knight organized the observation last year as well.

Knight spoke on the difficulty in finding obituaries or “kind words” about the individuals who they sought to honor in the memorial and spoke in emphasis of the issues surrounding misgendering and deadnaming that they discovered.

Speaking on the issues surrounding respecting transgender individuals even after they die, Knight said, “We’re seeing issues with their obituaries; their real names are in quotes, as if it’s not real. Their families and friends are well aware of their trans identity and just choose to ignore it, or even just still deadname them.”

Leo Levine-Aquino, a senior forensic science major, gave a speech as an open transgender man. He asked those in attendance to remember, honor and respect those in the trans community that we have lost this year and “do the same for those of us who are still alive.”

Levine-Aquino also said that “misgendering is an act of violence and using correct pronouns is suicide prevention.”

He furthered his speech by opening up about his perspective as a trans man and the complications that surround subjects such as hormone usage and gender-affirming surgeries.

In closing, he encouraged those in the audience to vote “in light of anti-trans and LGBTQ+ legislation,” and said that “we need all the support that you can get, and it will help us prevent more and more names from getting on the list that we read every year.”

Knight read through the names of the transgender lives lost this past year, accompanied by Elizabeth Southard, junior criminal justice major and Destiny Ray, junior cybersecurity and networks major.

They lit a candle for each of the 56 individuals, ranging anywhere from 14 to 50 years old, and read memorial reflections written by those closest to them in their lives. Statements made by their families and friends highlighted the experiences of the transgender community and the necessity for societal changes.

One of such was in memory of Chanelika Y’Ella Dior Hemingway, which read “I’m sorry we did not keep you safe. May your memory be a revolution.”

In reflection of the life of Kai Khan, age 18, the memorial read that “He wanted to be a nurse but was nervous about how people would treat him or refuse his care.”

Southard, in her closing remarks, said, “for those we have lost and cannot find, due to misgendering, deadnaming and underreporting; for those we have lost around the world.”

For those who may have become distressed by the nature of the vigil, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) clinician Samatha Kent was present for the event. CAPS is always available for those who may need to to talk, and can be contacted at 203-932-7333.