By Milan Perera, News Reporter
The University of Bristol LGBTQ+ Society organised a commemorative event at the Royal Fort Gardens to honour transgender people who lost their lives over the past year.
Trans Awareness Week, which began last week and ended with Transgender Remembrance Day on 20th November, is a moment to celebrate trans and non-binary individuals, while raising awareness of transphobia prevalent in wider society.
The poignancy of the vigil was further heightened by the recent mass shooting at Club Q, a LGBTQ+ venue in Colorado Springs, which killed five people and left 17 others injured on 19th November.
According to Pink News, at least 375 trans, non-binary or gender non-conforming people were killed around the world last year alone. The actual figures would be much higher than the reported cases, as many assaults against trans and non-binary citizens go unnoticed and unreported.
Participants gathered at the Royal Fort Gardens with floral tributes and candles. The piercingly cold evening was illuminated by the flickering light of the myriad of candles that were placed on the Transgender Pride Flag with blue, pink and white stripes. Alongside the flag were a group of banners that read 'Trans Rights Now.'
Silent reflection was coupled with the reading out of the names of the trans and non-binary members who passed on or were assaulted in transphobic attacks and acts of bigotry.
Trans Remembrance Day is a sobering reminder on how far society needs to change its perceptions of transgender and non-binary people. It is not just physical assaults, but also the dissemination of misconceptions in the media, which play a significant role in the proliferation of renewed attacks on trans and non-binary people.
Speaking to Epigram, LGBTQ+ Society pointed out that:
'Trans Day of Remembrance remains important to the trans community as it is a day that brings us together. we remember those we have lost to transphobia; we mourn them as a community, we share in our grief, but we also come away from community events with a renewed energy to fight for those still living.
'It is much a day of grief and sadness as it is also a day of hope and looking to the future, to a future that we are all working to create. we cannot fight alone and trans day of remembrance reminds us we are not alone, despite how it feels at times.'
Charlie Gadd from Socialist Worker Student Society who was also present at the vigil pointed out that:
'Trans Day of Remembrance is a day to remember all those who have been killed as a result of transphobia that's prevalent in the society. It's also a reminder of the devastating consequences of the attacks on trans rights. The government is attempting to remove legal protection for trans people from the Equality Act and have already scrapped plans to reform the GRA.'
'More often than not trans and non-binary people are being used as scapegoats in the 'War on Woke'. We must remember the dead and fight for the living.'
Transgender and non-binary individuals and allies took to Bristol city centre on the 26th of November, in solidarity with Trans Pride South West's week of activities to celebrate the diversity of transgender, non-binary, intersex & gender non-conforming communities.
The protest march began at the College Green and made its way to the Station on Silver Street. Some of those who attended the rally believe that its strength was a promising sign of the increased awareness and camaraderie between trans and non-binary community with its allies.