Twenty-two transgender people were killed in 2019, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which is a civil rights organization that advocates for LGBTQ issues. This is the fourth-highest number of known deaths related to gender identity since 1998 when the Trans Day of Remembrance was conceived.
“[Trans Day of Remembrance] is really important to me because I have received death threats as someone who is trans,” senior English licensure major Jaq Jefcoat, who is also the president of the Southern Miss Genders and Sexualities Alliance, said. “It is really concerning to imagine that someone would want to cause that amount of harm.”
The Trans Day of Remembrance is an annual national event to honor the memory of those murdered because of anti-transgender sentiments. The Southern Miss PRISM center held an event in their office in conjunction with the day.
“Having this kind of event on campus brings a lot of awareness to others who may or may not know anyone in the trans community and how difficult life can be,” Jefcoat said. “Spreading awareness of it shows how much of a tragedy it is.”
Jefcoat, who is GLAAD campus ambassador for Southern Miss, made a memorial for the 22 transgender people who were killed. It features photos of the people, their ages, the day they died and how they died. Around the photos, there are the hashtags “#TransLivesMatter” and “#TDoR.” The words, “Today we remember those we lost,” wrap around the photos as well.
“Even one person is too much, especially when that person was killed just for being who they are,” Jefcoat said.
According to Jefcoat, this day helps to exemplify the fact that society is still dangerous for not only transgender people but also the LGBTQ community as a whole.
“Trans Day of Remembrance, to me, means remembering all those who have come before me, and some of those who could have had a bright and lively future, but it was sadly stolen from them way too soon,” Jefcoat said.
Freshman polymer science major Hailie Homrighausen said dating a transgender person has opened her eyes to the danger they live in.
“The first transgender person I met is my boyfriend now, and [Trans Day of Remembrance] was always a big deal to him,” Homrighausen said. “He introduced me to the trans community and all of the bad stuff that happens to them. It made me scared and sad for him.”
Jefcoat said he not only remembers those who died during Trans Day of Rememberance but also those who lived full lives in the trans community that helped pave the way for him.
“As someone who is trans, it is important to know where you come from and the struggles that have come before you to light the way to get more visibility, more laws and more safety,” Jefcoat said.
Program manager for the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services Tegi Jenkins-Rimmer said she wants students to know that the Prism Center is here for students if they need resources.
“My role here at the university is to create inclusive spaces for our minority and underrepresented students, so when Jaq came to me with the idea of doing something for Trans Day of Remembrance, it was almost a no-brainer,” Jenkins-Rimmer said.
The Prism Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Our students need to know that they are represented here on campus and that we don’t take things like this lightly,” Jenkins-Rimmer said. “I wanted to show our LGBTQ+ community that they matter, and doing that was showing expression to those that have fallen victim to violence.”