On Wednesday night the university’s LGBTQ+ Society held service for the International Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Trans members of the university performed selfwritten music and held speeches about the growing acceptance of the trans community, and the long way that still lies ahead.
The ceremony took place in Hertford College Chapel. While three speakers read out a list of the victims of transphobic murders, those attending the service were given the chance to light candles in remembrance of the killed members of the trans community.
For around twenty minutes, name after name was read out, with countless “Name Unknowns”. According to PinkNews, an online platform that features news on the LGBT+ community, 311 trans people were murdered last year.
The platform points out that the numbers may be skewed, as local authorities are not always required to report killings to central databases.
In a statement about the service, the LGBTQ+ Society said: “We ask that you stand with us during this time.”
They invited all, “regardless of identity”, to attend. In particular, they wanted to “honour the memories of transfeminine people of colour, who are disproportionately affected by violence caused by systematic transphobia, transmisogyny, racism, classism and ableism in our society today”.
The SU’s LGBTQ+ campaign estimates, as stated in their 2018 Trans Report, that there are less than 100 trans students at the University of Oxford.
Of those that responded to the SU’s survey, 2 in 3 had experienced transphobia or discrimination at the university. Few had reported it, most saying that they would not feel comfortable doing so.
One of the speakers said: “The UK isn’t safe, there’s a long way to go.” Referring to Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which prohibited promoting homosexuality and was not repealed until 2000 in Scotland and 2003 in the rest of the UK, they added: “We grew up at a time where we weren’t allowed to talk about being gay”.
Another speaker emphasised the growing acceptance for the trans community, saying: “I love where we’re getting to.” Transgender Day of Remembrance takes place annually since November 20, 1998.
It was first organized by trans activist Gwendolyn Smith, following the murder of Rita Hester in Massachusetts.
Across the world, volunteers from the trans community hold vigils to remember those they have lost every year and read out the list of names.
After the ceremony, the society organized two welfare spaces at Harris Manchester College.