A student-organized event at the state Capitol building Saturday will honor transgender people who lost their lives to anti-transgender violence over the past year.
From 3-5 p.m., a rally and vigil will be held as part of the national Transgender Day of Remembrance. Organizers Amira Pierotti and Jace Liu said the event is a mix of celebration, awareness and solemnity.
“The first hour is going to be your traditional rally, we're going to have amazing speakers and performers,” said Pierotti, a Memorial High School senior. “Then the last hour is going to transition to a vigil where we're going to share the stories of all the people we've lost and provide an opportunity for trans and gender expansive folks and attendees to share their voices.”
Liu, a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the youth-led event helps show how they can “empower ourselves.”
“This rally is to just show other young trans folks, too, that you are building yourself and who you are building yourself to be shouldn't be dismissed because of your age,” said Liu, who identifies as transgender.
Speakers and performers will include SunShine Raynebow, Elle Halo and Livia Rowell-Ortiz. Pierotti said they also hope to have members of the LGBTQ+ Caucus speaking “demanding justice, demanding tangible action that the Legislature can take, and tangible action each and every one of us can and should be taking to support transgender expansive community care efforts.”
The vigil following the rally will serve as a reminder of the individual humanity of each of the 45 transgender and gender expansive people who have been killed across the country over the past year, said Pierotti, who uses they/them pronouns.
“Oftentimes transgender people who have been killed are turned into statistics, or are used for trauma porn … and it's very exploitative,” they said. “We want to help shift that narrative by just telling their stories, and who they were, what their community cherishes about them and what we’ve lost — not just that it's another life, but every one of these people were meaningful.”
Pierotti said there will be American Sign Language interpretation and chairs available for those who need to sit. For anyone who cannot attend in-person but wants to participate, the event will be livestreamed on Instagram at @tdor.wi.2021.
Pierotti said the youth-led event provides a voice for a group that is not old enough to vote, which often leads to their voices not being considered “meaningful.”
“Especially in the spirit of attacks on transgender and gender expansive youth across the country, whether it's denying us access to sports teams, or denying us access to lifesaving health care, youth have really been silenced,” they said. “To have a youth-organized event like this can be really empowering and show that no, we're not going to be silenced, that we do have power, that we are going to keep pushing and make sure that our leaders are being held accountable.
"And that folks are not just being allies, but being accomplices in our liberation, that they're working every day to become better and to support us."