In observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, the University of Georgia Pride Alliance created an installation at the Tate Plaza that honored the trans and gender-nonconforming individuals who were recorded to be murdered due to societal transphobia in the United States.
TDOR is an annual observance in memory of transgender individuals whose lives were lost in acts of violence. The UGA Pride Alliance laid out tape outlines in the shape of bodies and included the names and places of origin of 50 murdered individuals.
Fatal violence toward the trans community reached an abnormal high in 2020 and was disproportionately perpetrated against Black and Latinx transgender women. PFLAG, an organization dedicated to building a supportive network to advocate for the LGBTQ community, estimates that 53 people in the U.S. and 386 people globally were murdered directly due to societal transphobia between Oct.1, 2019 and Sept. 30, 2020.
Bren Augustine Latorre-Murrin, president of the UGA Pride Alliance, cites political polarization and increased activism among trans people as a possible factor behind this statistic.
“As there's more organizing a lot of people get more publicity and visibility which can lead to acts of retaliation,” Latorre-Murrin said. “It seems to be a tactic of transphobic people and racists to pick out the people that are loudest and be inordinately cruel to them.”
This year’s TDOR passed as a somber reminder of the struggles that trans and gender-nonconforming people continue to face both in ending violence toward the community and fighting for inclusion and respect. Pride Alliance is petitioning for UGA’s administration to acknowledge discrimination and account for trans students’ needs.
Latorre-Murrin said UGA administration is hesitant to take accountability for the discrimination that trans students have faced from fellow students, professors and staff. While the administration is great at creating diversity committees and panels, these groups are hardly equipped to confront the trauma and adversity that trans students have faced and continue to face at UGA, Latorre-Murrin said.
“I’m not saying that there aren’t people in administration that do care deeply and do want things to change, but it is just so part of the culture that those people don't have the broad support they need to make changes,” Latorre-Murrin said.
Pride Alliance still celebrates the small victories. The group commends the work of the LGBT Resource Center in compiling a list of on-campus gender neutral bathrooms and working with the housing department to review requests for accommodations, as well as other programs offered to accommodate trans students.
When it comes to the UGA student body, fostering an accepting environment involves reducing the in-group out-group dynamic surrounding trans and gender-nonconforming people, Latorre-Murrin said. They said trans people are not a terrifying political force — they are classmates, neighbors, friends and an integral part of the community.
“You don't have to be extremely informed. You don't have to even feel secure in a lot of your knowledge,” Latorre-Murrin said. “You just have to be open minded and respectful and be willing to put in the effort to learn and admit that you're wrong sometimes.”