Celebration, honor and education: 2021 Transgender Awareness Week


Photo courtesy of Tyler Wells.

The Pride crosswalk outside of Maxcy Hall, West Haven, Nov. 14

Nov. 13 to Nov. 19 marks 2021’s Transgender Awareness Week, which aims to celebrate and increase visibility of the transgender community and educate people outside of the community about how to be respectful––but it is also much more than that. The week concludes with Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR), Nov. 20, to honor and memorialize trans and gender-diverse lives lost.

The term transgender is an umbrella term in itself, representing any gender that is not cis-gender––a term which refers to anyone whose gender aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Over the past 12 months, 375 trans and gender-diverse lives were reported killed globally. A total of 4,042 people within the population were killed in 80 countries between January 2008 and September 2021.

The TDOR ceremony will be in Bucknall Theater, Nov. 17, hosted by the Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion (MCDI) and the student organization, PRIDE.

Starting at 4 p.m. there will also be an interfaith event including religious ceremonies and prayers. At 6 p.m., the main event begins, including speeches from various faculty, staff and students along with the reading of the names of those in the U.S. and U.S. territories who died and placing of candles.

At 7:30 p.m., Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) will lead a debrief to provide resources available. The MCDI will also remain open for anyone looking to utilize the space.

For Leo Levine-Aquino, junior forensic science major, TDOR is important to call attention to intersectional identities and ensure they have safe spaces within the LGBTQ+ community, too.

“This week is to remember that we are human beings that deserve respect, but often we are disrespected and sometimes even killed for who we are,” he said. “We are human, and we deserve love, respect, and rights just like everyone else.”

Levine-Aquino expressed pride in his intersectional identities, honoring all aspects of himself: Latine, Yucatan, Guatemalan, genderqueer and transgender.

The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ+ suicide prevention and awareness non-profit, reported in their National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health that “42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.”

The survey also found that transgender and nonbinary youth, who reported that their pronouns were respected by all the people in their household, attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have households respect this.

“Respecting Trans people and LGBTQ+ people is suicide prevention,” said Levine-Aquino. “Make sure you’re doing your best to support the Trans community and if you don’t know something or aren’t sure how to use someone’s pronouns, ask and practice. Most if not all of us are willing to help you understand.”

Students looking for resources and/or safe spaces can utilize CAPS located in Charger Plaza, and the MDCI located in Gerber Hall and its diversity peer educators.

The New Haven Pride Center, located at 84 Orange St., hosted events earlier this week including their 25th annual Block Party––where the center gathered the community to celebrate the work they have done––and has upcoming events, too.

The Pride Center will hold their bi-monthly social and safe-space discussion “Trans Chill & Chat” at 4 p.m. tomorrow, the “Queer Art: Retrospectively” exhibit from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow at the Chez Est, Hartford and an Apoyo LatinX event on Transgender Remembrance Day, which will become a recurring weekly event where queer/LatinX folks can support one another. On Nov. 21, there will be two “Trans Young Adult” Support Groups for the ages of 18 to 25. This group meets on the 1st Wednesday of each month from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and the third Sunday of the month from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. To register, email the group facilitator at [email protected].