Today: Jun 24, 2024

SAGE celebrates Trans Day of Remembrance

Braden Saint-Val – News Writer

As the safe haven for the university’s LGBTQ+ community, the Sexuality and Gender Equality, SAGE Center will observed the Transgender Day of Remembrance by honoring those who died to violence. 

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is an annual observance on Nov. 20 that honors the memory of transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.  

It was founded in 1999 by a small group, including Gwendolyn Ann Smith, Nancy Nangeroni and Jahaira DeAlto, to memorialize the murder of black transgender women Rita Hester and Chanelle Pickett. 

The SAGE Center not only celebrated the lives that have been lost this year but also invited public advocate and educator Ace Ricker to speak on his experience as a black transgender man in the Adanti Student Center Theatre. 

“When we have our guest speakers come, it’s important that we ensure that we’re uplifting trans voices and a trans person that is able to speak true to themselves,” said Brandon Lovene, the SAGE Center’s graduate intern. 

It is a time for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate, uplift and honor the transgender community while highlighting the significant increase in hate and violence against transgender people. 

Ace Ricker has been a transgender advocate since the age of 15 and has worked with a number of organizations in fighting for the equality of marginalized communities. 

He is also the owner of Awareness through Communication and Education LLC, which provides education about the LGBTQ+ community as well as other topics such as toxic masculinity, intersectionality and neurodiversity. 

Ricker shared the story of his life growing up with white adoptive parents in a predominantly white community.  

He talked about the challenges he faced in grade school, where societal gender norms were constantly promoted, which made it difficult for him to express his gender identity openly. 

In an interactive exercise, Ricker instructed students to blindly fold and tear a sheet of paper. When they opened their eyes, everyone had a different or similar result. Ricker emphasized that there was no right or wrong way of doing it.  

He used this exercise to illustrate how it felt for him to be in spaces where he did not feel represented and how he would shut down in such situations. 

“I wanted to know that there was a future for me because I didn’t see anywhere there was. I didn’t see people like me; there were no conversations that I could connect to, and by third grade, I very much so started to isolate entirely,” said Ricker. 

When he was thirteen, Ricker finally received the answers and conversations he needed at Planned Parenthood. Since then, he has become a prominent public advocate in Connecticut, embracing his authentic self. 

Transgender women of color face disproportionate rates of transphobic violence, and in recent years, anti-transgender legislation has sprung up across the country, mainly targeting transgender youth and their access to school facilities, school athletics and the gender-affirming healthcare they need. 

The SAGE Center has created a bulletin that tells the stories of the victims of anti-transgender violence this year but emphasizes that there are still many that have gone unreported every year. 

Ricker and Lovene stressed the need for both people in and outside the queer community to take effective action and make their voices heard to combat violence and discrimination. 

“Ultimately, it’s up to each and every one of us as members of this campus community to be actively involved and engaged in continuing to support queer students and queer people in general,” Lovene said. 

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