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Transgender Day of Remembrance brings awareness, acceptance to UMaine community

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day set aside to remember those in the transgender community who have passed away. Here at the University of Maine, the day was recognized this past Friday, Nov. 20, and served as a complement to the nationally known Transgender Awareness Week.

This past week, LGBT Services and students of the Wilde Stein Alliance set up events to invite the UMaine campus to participate in the historic week. Leading up to the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Wilde Stein put on a Candle Vigil at the Wilson Center on Nov. 19. There was also a poetry and spoken word exhibition on the following day, which was the Day of Remembrance.

“The poetry and spoken word exhibit was primarily centered around Transgender readings.The readings express feeling and emotions of the day itself,” Gill McGill, an administrative assistant for LGBT Services, said. McGill helped organize all the events held during Transgender Awareness Week.

LGBT Services and the Wilde Stein Alliance have been heavily involved in recent years with the Transnet Transgender Day of Remembrance event held at the Hammond Street Church in Bangor. This year they continued that tradition and carpooled to the event this past Friday.

As seen on the UMaine LGBT Services webpage, the university has gender inclusive bathrooms in a handful of academic buildings and residence halls on campus. Also, transgender students can request for special housing to provide a safe and supportive experience. Transgender students also have the option of using a preferred name instead of their legal name on MaineStreet.

“Just be all around a good friend. Always listen to them. Being an ally for a transgender student is not much different than being an ally for an LGBT one. Always be willing to support them,” McGill said.

“For anyone interested in becoming an ally, come in for one of the safe-zone trainings. In the trainings we talk about terms, and emphasize educating yourself and using that knowledge to decrease oppression. If you can’t go to a training, just educate yourself,” Casey Rogers, who is also an administrative aide for LGBT Services, said.

With providing all of these services for transgender students, it has become aware how the transgender community has made an impact at the University of Maine in the past few years.

“I’m an ally. Before I came to college, I knew through media and readings what transgender meant. Now having more friends and it becoming more personal, it encourages me to become more of an activist in the community,” Rogers said. “Coming from a small town in Maine, coming here and meeting all different kinds of people has made me be more aware. The movement is important to me.”

For anyone interested in information about becoming an ally or participating in safe-zone training, the Rainbow Resource center, room 224 in the Memorial Union, is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


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