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Members of the Loyola Community Gathered to Honor the Trans Day of Remembrance and Call for Change on Campus

Members of the Loyola Community Gathered to Honor the Trans Day of Remembrance and Call for Change on Campus
Emma Straus

A hush fell over the typically busy epicenter of campus. On Friday, Nov. 17, members and allies of the trans community gathered outside the Humanities building to honor the Trans Day of Remembrance

Pride flags billowed in the wind as students and faculty waited for the event to begin. The silence was broken by the words of Loyola’s LGBTQ+ Experience executive board. CJ Sommers ‘24, one of the club’s co-presidents, addressed the crowd as the event began.

Sommers laid out the event’s dual purpose.

“[Today we honor the lives that have been taken and that we have lost through transphobic violence in any and all forms. But another purpose of this event is to uplift the lives that are still living and to celebrate those who are still with us,” Sommers said.

Multiple speakers gave their testimonies on the Humanities steps. Among them were students, members of the LGBTQ+ Experience’s executive board, representatives from Trans Maryland, members of CCSJ, and representatives from Loyola’s Counseling Center. 

The Human Rights Campaign and Them US outlined that globally, more than 300 trans and gender-diverse individuals were killed in 2023. In 2023, 88% of victims were people of color, 54% were black transgender women, and 47% were killed by a romantic partner, friend, or family member.

Many of the evening’s speeches were offered in honor of these lives that were lost, as calls for change and action, as well as tearful personal testimonies. 

Jaxon Stadick ‘26, who was a part of both the supporting crowd and speakers, offered his own testimony. Stadick’s words hung heavy, as he is from Florida, one of the states with the most anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ legislation.

“Today is the day where we remember those who didn’t have the opportunity to go to college, didn’t have the opportunity to graduate, and didn’t have the chance to start their life. Today we remember the names the news will not speak, the names of those who have been forgotten,” he said.

His speech told of a close friend that he lost due to Florida’s strict prohibition of gender affirming care for trans youth. Stadick spoke at the event in memory of his friend, but also to speak to the importance of treating people like people. 

Through the tearful accounts, moments of silence, and cries for change, there was also an immense sense of camaraderie. The crowd experienced a full range of emotions in the two hours that the event took place, and they did it together. 

Sadick spoke to the importance of events like these.

“It means bringing a community together and kind of showing people who are maybe too shy to be on campus or to come here that we are here, we are supporting each other, and that’s all that matters,” he said.

Co-president Meg Cappabianca ‘24, also expressed the importance of having events such as these. 

“As we heard from everyone who spoke, it affects all of us. The loss of life is a very real threat,” she said. 

Many faculty made up the crowd to show their support for the cause, including President Sawyer. 

The event commemorated the lives lost to violence against the trans community, but it also was a call to action for the lives still here. 

Cappabianca said that the event was also to call for a change on campus. 

“We want to make administrators listen and to enact real change. We’d like to see a queer resource center. That’s been my goal before I graduate. And it’s not too late,” she said. 

Pat Cassidy, the moderator for the LGBTQ+  Experience and associate director for programs in CCSJ, called for change on Loyola’s campus. Cassidy, along with many of the students, discussed the importance of having an official office for LGBTQ+ services at Loyola.

“I think it’s critical that LGBTQ students know that they can go to one centralized place for support. I think some of the progress that we’ve made at the university is great… However, it’s important that we have an office that is centralized for queer services, so that a staff of multiple people can help develop a stronger network across campus and be a place and a home where students can go both for community but also for support and advocacy,” Cassidy said. 

Many of the students expressed the need for a centralized space for LGBTQ+ students that would go beyond what the club is capable of. The LGBTQ+ Experience’s officers work tirelessly in advocacy, but as co-president Sommers pointed out in one speech, members of the club are still students first and foremost. 

“I came here to be a student,” Sommers said. 

While Experience’s officers expressed that they were thankful to have the club on campus, they hoped that one day the club would no longer be needed. 

Many of the speakers spoke about the small changes that had a great impact. These included the new name change policy, where students could go by their preferred name in Loyola systems. This may seem like a small step in the right direction, but it is a step nonetheless. Even the smallest acts that can make a world of difference for the community. 

Members of the LGBTQ+ community on campus are now calling for further change. 

Cassidy hopes to push for an office through Loyola’s new Strategic Plan. 

“I think it requires a prioritization of resources and funding, so really looking at our budget and where we’re putting money. As well as looking at our student well-being, student success and student belonging to prioritize funding for that. I think a great way to be able to do that is through the current strategic planning,” he said. 

The LGBTQ+ Experience’s observance of Trans Day of Remembrance sparked many emotions throughout the evening. While there were many tearful statements bravely given, there was also a hope that every student had, one that the crowd could take away from the event and bring throughout campus. 

“I know Loyola is full of so many loving people that just want to learn. And I think that if we set that example from the top, of taking the time to learn and support queer students… it can cause some real change,” said Cappabianca.

Many messages and takeaways were offered throughout the event. But one that consistently came up was the reminder that members of the trans and LGBTQ+ community are never alone. 

As Stadick reminded the crowd in his speech, trans individuals are more than just a number or statistic, that they are people too.

 “Remember these names, remember these voices, remember the way they looked, the way they talked, remember their goals and dreams, and remember their hearts. We are people, and you are loved,” said Stadick.

If there are any students in need of support, students can call  410-617-CARE (2273) to make an appointment with Loyola’s Counseling Center, open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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