Updated: Feb 3, 2019
For many decades, the transgender community has had to deal with a lot of hate. In fact, there have been many hate crimes targeted towards people in the transgender community. On Tuesday, November 20th, 2018, the LGBTQ+ Allies Club hosted a Transgender Day of Remembrance event in the Paterson Room at Passaic County Community College. Th e event was held to remember 22 victims of Transgender hate crimes that resulted in death. Special guest speaker, Matthew Diaz, is a senior at William Paterson University pursuing a double major in women and gender studies and sociology with a minor in health studies. He is also a transgender male.
The event started with LGBTQ+ Allies club president, Michelle Chacon, giving an opening speech to introduce the event. She and other speakers at the event announced their pronouns. Pronoun stickers were provided for those who attended.
After being introduced with a brief biography by the club’s vice president, Ashley Olazabal, Diaz began his speech by explaining why we celebrate Transgender Day of Remembrance and the importance of it.
He stated that the Day of Remembrance was started in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. He stated that the US is the third largest country with Transgender death in the world.
He emphasized that having an event like this can help foster a broader understanding of tolerance for better communication with transgender individuals.
Diaz shared his experience of realizing he was transgender. He recalled the first time he met somebody who was transgender. He had no idea that it was possible to identify as another gender.
After that he spent time on YouTube and Tumblr and encountered transgender men being masculine. He said that seeing trans masculine men helped him be himself.
From then on, he slowly came to terms with the fact that he identified as a transgender male. Afterwards, he hit on the fact that having an event like this can make it easier to respect who transgender people are. He then discussed safe spaces. One very important aspect of creating safer spaces was pronoun usage.
When Diaz finished his speech, the LGBTQ+ Allies Secretary, Daniel Quevedo, had everyone at each table read the cards of the 22 victims of transgender hate crimes. Th is was followed by a moment of silence.