Trans Remembrance Day remember those that have lost their lives


Alexandra Apatiga

Shani December Smith speaking at the Transgender Day of Remembrance event at BC, in honor of transgender individuals who’ve lost their lives.

Christina Benavides, Reporter

Bakersfield College students gathered for Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) in the Fireside Room on Nov. 20.

The SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Acceptance) club hosted the event from 12-1 p.m. to remember those who have been killed with malicious intent. President of SAGA, Juan Contreras, spoke about the history of the day.

Contreras mentioned that TDOR was established in 1999 by a transgender woman named Gwendolyn Ann Smith to memorialize the murder of a transgender woman named Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts.

He also mentioned that typically a TDOR memorial may include candlelight vigils, art shows, food drives, film screenings, and marches. Adding, the memorial also includes the reading of those who have lost their lives the previous year.

Shani December Smith, a local transgender activist spoke about her experience with the community. She mentioned that her experience here at BC has been really positive. Smith is an automotive technology student, who did not expect to be warmly welcomed due to the normal reputation of the automotive technology industry.

She began her speech by asking a rhetorical question for audience members to ask themselves.

“What is the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning?” Smith said.

Audience members pondered as she gave examples of what we normally think about such as, taking our kids to school, or paying bills. Smith responded with what she thinks about.

“The first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning every day, ‘Is today going to be the day that I die? Am I going to be murdered today? Is my fiancé going to die today? Is one of my friends going to die today? Is one of the kids I mentor going to be killed today?’,” Smith said.

She added that “The last year before today, at least three people did, three people I had known have passed away due to suicide.”

Smith explained that 27 transgender people in the United States were murdered between January and the beginning of November of this year.  She adds that she believes the number is a lot higher, but they can only confirm 27 due to the system relying on self-reporting and accurate reporting by families and police. Smith mentioned that the police and families will sometimes misreport someone’s gender.

Soon after, the reading of the names began, followed with their pictures as audience and SAGA club members read about them.

After the reading people went up to the podium to speak up about how they felt. Helen Acosta, Advisor of SAGA, voiced some advice to those who might not know much about the transgender community.

“When someone tells you their name, don’t ask if it’s their real name, it’s their name. Anyone can change their name, so always accept someone for the name they give,” Acosta said.

She included that if someone tells you their pronouns, you should use them, and do not make a big deal out of it if you make a mistake. Adding, just to correct yourself if it happens.

The SAGA club welcomes everyone, and next semester will be having their first support group for anyone to join, according to Contreras. SAGA meets every other week on Wednesdays in the FA building in room 47 at 4:10 p.m.