The Gender Relations Center of Notre Dame and PrismND – a student organization committed to serving the LGBTQ + community in Notre Dame – co-sponsored a vigil Monday night at the Grotto for Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The event began after the bells rang from the basilica above and Our Lady Junior Gabe McKenna, President of PrismND, rose to speak.
âWe come together here tonight to honor the memory of those murdered in acts of anti-transgender violence,â McKenna said. âIn 2021, we lost at least 48 transgender people [nationally] to acts of violence.
McKenna emphasized the humanity of the victims, calling them people with families, jobs and communities.
âThey were real people, people who didn’t deserve to be taken over,â McKenna said.
McKenna then began to name the 48 transgender lives lost, sometimes appearing to choke on their backgrounds and memories of loved ones.
As McKenna and other PrismND members read the names and stories of the 48 victims, people lit “Transgender Day of Remembrance” candles, each labeled with the name of a victim.
For each victim, the speakers highlighted the immense human dignity the person carried in their life through stories, stressing that their life was more than just a tragedy.
McKenna shared the story of Tyianna Alexander, also known as Davarea Alexander, a 28-year-old black transgender woman who was shot dead in Chicago on January 6.
âTyianna’s friends posted that she has good energy and beautiful light,â McKenna said.
Erin Markel, senior at Notre Dame, explained how Mel Groves, a 25-year-old black transgender man who was fatally shot in October in Jackson, Mississippi, was an active member of his community and “a plant scientist at the University of Alcorn State who loved farming. and animals.
After McKenna and her comrades finished describing the lives of all of the victims, McKenna led petitions to pray for the transgender community.
“We pray for the souls of those who have been murdered this year and in the years that have passed as a result of anti-transgender violence, that they will be enveloped in the loving embrace of our merciful Lord and Savior,” said McKenna.
The petitions also did not leave the authors out of their prayers.
âPray for those who have committed these acts of violence, that they may recognize the presence of Christ and those around them and seek the merciful love and forgiveness of God,â McKenna said.
The assembly then recited the Our Father and offered themselves the sign of peace.
The vigil also addressed the position of the Catholic Church and many Catholic theologians who oppose the identity of transgender people. On its website, PrismND responds to such views with: âCatholic theology does not at all condemn the gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and questioning students as a means of helping each other.
Deborah Bineza, Program Coordinator for Identity, Intersectionality and Inclusion at the Gender Relations Center, spoke last.
âWhile the details of these cases differ, it is clear that the deadly violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, particularly black transgender women,â she said. “Their deaths highlight the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.”