People of all ages and types packed Portland State’s Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom Thursday night for the second annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, hosted by PSU’s Queer Resource Center. The event, which consisted of a candlelight vigil, several speakers and a performance by performer Scott Turner Schofield, was held in remembrance of Rita Hester, who was murdered in San Francisco as a casualty of anti-transgender prejudice.
People of all ages and sexual and gender identities packed Portland State’s Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom Thursday night for the second annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, hosted by PSU’s Queer Resource Center.
The event, which consisted of a candlelight vigil, several speakers and a performance by performer Scott Turner Schofield, was held in remembrance of Rita Hester, who was murdered in San Francisco as a casualty of anti-transgender prejudice.
Transgender Awareness Month began in 1998, with the spreading nationwide and international enthusiasm for the prevention of transgender hate crimes.
The event’s highlight was a performance by Schofield, a transgender man who has been touring to colleges, festivals and theaters nationwide since 2001, presenting humorous and poetic autobiographical monologues.
“Every single one of us is gender confused,” Schofield said. “Those of us who are confused about our own gender have a gift of insight and self-knowledge that we share as we talk about our struggles and learn the lessons.”
After growing up in Texas and North Carolina and graduating from Emory College in 2002, Schofield published his book, Two Truths and a Lie, when he felt that he wasn’t seeing enough stories that he wanted to in society.
The night was populated with speeches, starting with one by Reid Vanderburgh, a local therapist in private practice who specializes in transgender health. Vanderburgh expressed the idea that there is still much to be done to dismantle the prejudice that exists.
Tash Schatz, a PSU student who expressed his feelings about transgender hate through a poem he wrote after seeing a transgender remembrance flier crumpled and ripped on the floor the men’s restroom.
Following Schatz was Jean Burleton, the executive director of TransActive, an organization that works on behalf of gender-independent youth.
“We will never be silent about the things that matter,” Burleton said.
Rose Sims, a former PSU student, also spoke, explaining the murders of transgender people worldwide.
“We can’t be let this day be completely mourning,” Sims said. “It has to be a promise to those we lost that we’ll do the hard work for them.”
Laura Calvo, a transgender political activist who was also the first transgender woman selected as a voting delegate to the Oregon Democratic State Convention, also spoke. She emphasized how transgender issues affect everyone, not just homosexuals, and expresses her hope for a brighter and better future.
After the speakers, attendees were given candles to mourn victims of transgender violence. During the vigil, Kendall Clawson, executive director of the PDX Q Center, read aloud from a list of names of the individuals who were murdered as a result of transgender hate.
“The gender binary system is like being in a cage,” said QRC coordinator Phil Garry at the event. “It’s important for people to realize that gender identity and expression includes more than just what’s in between your legs.”