Pride Center recognizes the upcoming Transgender Day of Remembrance

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Anna Fischer, Social Justice Reporter

This week, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Pride Center will host two events in honor of the upcoming Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is an annual observance on Nov. 20 that honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, a memorial service will take place in the Hall of Nations from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., to honor all transgender lives lost this year. The following day from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Student Union 3130, the Pride Center will host a ‘Trans Ally Workshop,’ featuring a five-person transgender student panel.

“This workshop teaches you how to be a better ally, specifically to trans people,” said Pride Center Peer Educator Jamie Henk. “Anyone can come; anyone on campus is allowed to come to any of our programmings.”

Henk is a fourth-year communication studies student who has worked as a peer educator at the Pride Center on campus for two years.

“One of the biggest reasons I enjoy the Pride Center is because it gives me a space to be fully open, especially after going to a very rural high school. Working there is very empowering because I feel like I’m actually helping people talk through things they may never have been able to talk through before.”

Adam Whitney, a third-year UWL student, and Pride Center peer educator says he really appreciates the Pride Center as a ‘diverse and safe space’ for queer students like him.

“I think it really provides a safer space on campus, just somewhere you can go. I really like our Destress Center because it’s quiet, and if you have light sensitivity you can go in there and hang out. It’s not just an office space,” said Whitney.

The Safe Space Destress Room is located within the Pride Center in the COVE (Student Union 2218). Students are also encouraged to access the Pride Center’s various books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs, which can be checked out via the online library.

An important area that Henk and Whitney feel needs improvement is the gender-inclusive restrooms on campus. The two Pride Center workers say the current gender-inclusive restrooms that are available are being abused by those who don’t really need them.

“We have a lack of accessible bathrooms and a lack of gender-inclusive bathrooms,” said Henk. “People are using the gender-inclusive restrooms who don’t really need that space so that space is then not available for trans students.”

Henk recalls a time when he was using one of the gender-inclusive restrooms on campus and was disturbed when someone began ‘banging on the door.’

“I get upset waiting for the gender-inclusive bathrooms but I’m not going to bang down the door to use it,” said Henk.

Whitney mentioned that the installation of more gender-inclusive bathrooms could be a good solution. “We get it; they’re beneficial to a lot of people. So, if we just opened it up and had more, it wouldn’t be such an issue.”

Another issue the Pride Center faces is students purposefully tearing down posters about their resources and upcoming events. “We’ve had a lot of our posters taken down in residence halls,” said Henk, “and a lack of people reporting these incidents.”

If you would like to report a missing Pride Center poster or any information regarding one, please contact Hate and Bias.

“Students should realize that life is very different when you go to college,” said Henk, “There are going to be accepting people here, and they’re very easily accessible to you. You can just go into the Pride Center and they will be there.”