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Candle lit vigil honors transgender lives stolen

The Waysmeet Center, located at 15 Mill Road, held the annual UNH Trans Day of Remembrance Vigil on Thursday night, Nov. 17, in remembrance of transgendered individuals who have lost their lives as a result of violence and hate crimes. The vigil was organized by UNH Alliance, and has now been held at the Waysmeet Center for the past 15 years.
“We’re remembering people who have been lost over the course of the year,”  junior political science major and UNH College Democrats Vice President Douglas Marino said. “Trying to honor them and honor their memory, and making sure that they’re never forgotten, that they’re always in our thoughts, and that we come together as a community to do what we can to try to make things better for people and improve our society.”
According to Chaplin and Waysmeet Center Executive Director Larry Brickner-Wood, the vigil has always been a part of Gender Identities Awareness Week.
“It’s a day to primarily lift up those transgendered people in our large community, including the world, that have lost their lives in the past year to violence,” Brickner-Wood said.
The vigil began with the Alliance executive board presenting their mission statement. A total of 37 candles were then passed out with names of victims assigned to each, though there was one blank slip to represent names that Alliance was either unable to collect or who were unknown. Attendees lit the candles and followed by reciting each name.
“Each candle represents a human being who was taken from us this year. It’s important that we make sure they are never forgotten,” Marino said.
Following the candle dedication, the floor was opened for the attendees to share their thoughts and feelings on the event. TransUNH and Alliance member Rory Wilson gave a statement on behalf of Alliance.
“The Trans Day of Remembrance is a day to remember those we have lost due to transphobia and hate. While these hate crimes are devastating, we are also remembering those who have lost their lives to bias in our society. In 2014, the National Transgender Discrimination Survey reported of those bullied for their gender identities in school, 78 percent reported having attempted suicide. In some cases this bias isn’t outright. As a community we have daily struggles in perceivably simple things; going to the bathroom, seeing medical care professionals and being seen for who we are,” Wilson said in his speech. The candles were then blown out in reverence.
“It’s an honor to be able to be a host and to have events like this here,” Brickner-Wood said. “The Waysmeet Center is a welcoming and progressive community for all people, and it’s also a place that tries to witness to the beloved community that Martin Luther King talked about: a community of equity, justice, wholeness and sustainability.”
“Our hope for this event is that we were able to provide a place to remember these individuals and grieve for our members of the trans community and friends of the community here at UNH,” Wilson said in retrospect of the event. “Waysmeet graciously provided a place for that.”

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