Students honor those killed for gender identity

Tim Magaw

Jae Lerer, sophomore history major, takes a moment to reflect at the Queer Liberation Front’s transgender day of remembrance candlelight vigil last night in Risman Plaza. LESLIE CUSANO | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

After he blew out his candle, sophomore photojournalism major Trae Ruscin wiped a tear from under his eye.

As a transgender person, Ruscin said it was important to participate in the Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil last night in Risman Plaza, which was held by the Queer Liberation Front.

“I think it’s important we all celebrate and mourn the day of remembrance, acknowledging that there are transgender people in the world, and there is violence against them,” he said.

During the vigil, nine participants held candles and read more than 300 names of those who have been killed because of their gender identity.

Candlelight reflected in QLF co-chair John Barham’s glasses as he read names off notecards. As he flipped through the cards, Barham proclaimed one louder than the others: “Unknown. Akron, OH. 1994.”

After the names were read, QLF co-chair Danielle Flink asked for a moment of silence for the unknown people who have been murdered. The participants bowed their heads and eventually extinguished their candles.

Sophomore psychology major Rachel Wolf said she participated in the vigil for her multicultural psychology class.

“It was different,” she said. “(Our professor) asked us to go in places where we felt uncomfortable. But I didn’t feel uncomfortable because they didn’t ask if I was gay or anything.”

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is held to honor Rita Hester, who was murdered in 1998 for her gender identity, according to This was the eighth annual transgender awareness day.

“It’s a day for us all to come together for those who have been murdered for their gender identity or perceived gender identity,” Flink said.

Contact ethnic affairs reporter Tim Magaw at [email protected].