Oxford students, staff, and community members gathered in Radcliffe Square last night for a Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil, organised by the SU LGBTQ+ Campaign to “honour the memory of trans lives lost to violence, hate crimes, and transphobia.”
This observance marks the fourth vigil held in Oxford for Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual memorial founded in 1999 to commemorate Rita Hester and Chanelle Pickett, two Black trans women murdered in Massachusetts.
Standing next to a memorial tied to the Radcliffe Camera’s fence that listed the names of trans victims of violence, speakers shared memories, recited poems, and performed songs.
One speaker, Chrissie Chevasutt, an outreach worker for the trans, intersex, and nonbinary community at St. Columba’s United Reformed Church in Oxford spoke about the “hate” perpetuated by many churches and media outlets as a major driver of transphobic violence.
In statements made before the event, they also praised the decision made by several Oxford colleges to fly the trans pride flags in observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance this week, saying “my whole soul and body breathes a deep sigh of relief, to know that many of Oxford’s colleges are flying the flag.
“This is huge, in the immediate, it sends a message of hope, that culture and society is changing.”
Speakers also addressed the ongoing conflict in Israel-Palestine, reading out messages from queer and trans Palestinians posted on the website “Queering the Map.”
The vigil concluded with a moment of silence commemorating the lives lost to anti-trans violence in the past year, following a poem by the co-chair of the SU’s LGBTQ+ campaign, Joel Aston, who expressed their “grief and anger” at transphobic violence. Commenting on the vigil, Addi Haran Diman, president of the Oxford LGBTQ+ Society, said “on [Trans Day of Remembrance], we are rightfully saddened and enraged by losing so many community members. May their memory give us the power to continue fighting another year.”