Ramapo holds vigil for Trans Day of Remembrance

Every year, Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is observed on Nov. 20 across the country to honor those who have been lost to transphobic acts of violence. Ramapo joined the commemoration with a proclamation and vigil hosted by the Women’s Center and LGBTQ+ Services.

The event began with a few words from Alex Woods, Coordinator of the Women’s Center and LGBTQ+ Services. They shared some of the history behind TDOR: how activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith and a few others organized the first TDOR in San Francisco in 1999, how TDOR started as a way to honor the death of Rita Hester, a trans woman who was murdered in her apartment in 1998 and how Hester’s death inspired the web project “Remembering Our Dead,” which was a list of all murdered trans people as far back as 1970.

“This day is dedicated to pay tribute to those whose lives have been lost due to anti-trans hatred, prejudice and violence,” they said. “Trans Day of Remembrance serves to raise awareness of hate crimes against trans people, as well as to publicly mourn and honor the lives of community members who may have otherwise been forgotten.”

Woods emphasized the efforts of the Ramapo community to foster a safe and welcoming environment for trans people on campus, but also expressed that there’s more work to be done, specifically for trans athletes.

“The question of trans people belonging in athletics has and continues to be a heavily debated topic. Now more than ever, we must work towards fostering an inclusive campus environment by offering support to our trans and nonbinary athletes,” they said.

President Cindy Jebb then took to the stage, asking attendees to join her in a moment of silence. Afterward, she shared a few remarks and highlighted prominent transgender figures in pop culture, including Laverne Cox and Elliot Page. She also spotlighted attorney and former Ramapo professor Jillian Weiss, who represents transgender people in workplace discrimination cases.

“Professor Weiss and many other tireless advocates have been fighting for federal protections of the trans community for more than 30 years,” Jebb said.

Student Trans Outreach Coordinator Cecil Borgono read the names of the 26 transgender and gender non-conforming people who were murdered in the past year. They are: Daniel Aston, Kenny Loving, Ashley Paugh, Derrick Rump, Raymond Green Vance, MarQuis “MJ” Jackson, Caelee Love-Light, KC Johnson, Tortuguita Terán, Maria Jose Rivera Rivera, Unique Banks, Zachee Imanitwitaho, Cashay Henderson, Banko Paso, Ome Gandhi, Jacob Williamson, Michelle Dionne Peacock, Colin Smith, Camdyn Rider, DéVonnie J’Rae Johnson, Sherlyn Marjorie, Chyna Long, Dominic Dupree, A’nee Roberson, Lisa Love Turman and London Price.

“I say their names today to honor them so they may not be forgotten. Each individual had their life unfairly cut short. Therefore, I humbly ask that you say and remember their names,” Borgono said.

Two employees from healingSPACE, Bergen County’s sexual violence resource center, attended the event to educate about the resources that healingSPACE offers for trans, nonbinary and LGBTQ+ people. Ramapo alum and healingSPACE program assistant Parker Rogers, who was the Women’s Center’s first student trans outreach coordinator, and LGBTQ+ clinician Kayden Sarria were located at a table beside the Arch to share more information with anyone interested.

“Our services are available to anybody that is around in Bergen County, regardless of the reason, and so please find us. Please use us,” Sarria said.

At the ceremony’s conclusion, Sarria invited attendees to take some flowers and walk through the Grove to view the signs with photos and information about the 26 victims to honor them.




Featured photo by Rebecca Gathercole