Photo courtesy of Oli Lew
Queer Ole Individuals (QOI) hosted a vigil in Boe Chapel on Nov. 20 as a space to name and remember the countless transgender lives lost to anti-trans violence. It also provided a space for community and support for transgender students in the face of transphobia. The vigil is an annual event that QOI hosts for International Transgender Remembrance Day.
“Anti-trans rhetoric seeks to polarize the United States against transgender individuals, and normalize the oppression of the trans community,” said QOI Co-Coordinator Oli Lew ’25 in an email interview with The Olaf Messenger. “We want this event to show the humanity of transgender individuals, and work to tear down the walls that have begun to divide us as a country.”
The vigil was conducted in Boe Chapel to subvert the ways anti-trans hate groups weaponize religion to further divide and oppress transgender communities. “The goal of utilizing Boe Chapel is to demonstrate that religion does not have to divide, and that we as a community, regardless of our personal religious or non-religious identities, can occupy and use a religious space as a place of safety and community,” Lew ’25 said in an email interview. “Our event did not serve any specific religious demographic, but instead sought to show that religion and trans identities can interact without forcing one or the other to change.”
Event organizers read off the names of transgender people killed in the past year while simultaneously lighting a candle for each life lost. Aftwards, the space was held for the rest of the hour for everyone at the event to talk and grieve with peers.
In the final speech of the event, Lew said, “Anti-transgender violence is a terrifying virus that continues to permeate society, largely being excused as ‘the way things are’. We have the power to join together in one voice and demand that such violence be excused no longer. No one person should have to fight against oppression alone. Oppression and hate wins when the world finds itself divided.”
For transgender community support, reach out to QOI’s alias: firstname.lastname@example.org