Monday marks the beginning of Transgender Awareness Week. Organizations across the country participate in the week to specifically recognize the transgender community and the current problems it faces.
Campus groups, including Queer People of Color (QPOC) and UM Pride Network, will host events throughout the week.
In 2016, 27 transgender people died in the United States due to violence, according to GLAAD. The number has reached at least 25 this year already.
QPOC and UM Pride Network have joined together to host a “die-in” at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Student Union. Individuals will lie on the ground and simulate death to protest the deaths of transgender people. Through the die-in, the organizations want to bring awareness to the dangers the transgender community faces.
Malik Pridgeon, QPOC president and senior public policy and philosophy major, said people should go to the event not only to recognize the transgender community but also to educate themselves.
“People should attend this event to stand in solidarity with not only the transgender individuals within our university community but around the world,” Pridgeon said. “The truth of the matter is that silence is consent. We must stand up and speak out against the injustices and human rights abuses.”
According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, there are 1.4 million transgender people in the United States. Transgender people of color are most affected by violence. Fifty-five percent of all reported LGBT homicide victims were transgender women, and 50 percent were transgender women of color, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.
Brenna Paola, UM Pride Network vice president and sophomore sociology major, said even within the LGBTQ community, some people fail to support rights for trans people.
“Trans people face discrimination on a daily basis, and awareness is the first step to acceptance. While the LGBTQ+ community, of course, embraces its trans members, many people fail to even support rights for trans people,” Paola said.
Avery Gault, former UM Pride Network vice president and senior political science major, agreed that vocal support needs to be better.
“People, including members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community, forget to support the members of the community who are gender non-conforming, trans or genderqueer,” Gault said. “Because we aren’t vocally supportive, it can make it even more difficult for them to come out and find the help, love and support they need.”
UM Pride Network and QPOC want to ensure that transgender people at the university feel supported and comfortable. The groups hold weekly meetings in the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. Meetings consist of presentations, discussions and team-building activities.
Paola said the end goal is for individuals to understand that all people are people, no matter what gender they identify with or to whom they are attracted to.
“I would like to live in a Mississippi that truly deserves the title of ‘the hospitality state,’” Paola said. “Taking away stigmas and misconceptions about trans people, as well as providing education opportunities to the public, is one of the first steps toward recognizing that people are just people.”