Students Observer Transgender Day of Remembrance


Giang Do

Cristina King, Miss Nationwide 2022 – keynote speaker at the event.

Krystina Slack

The day after Arun Gandhi spoke to the Augustana community about the value of nonviolence, the Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity hosted an event that stressed the damage violence has had on the LGBTQ+ community, more specifically the transgender community. 

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity (OSID) held its Transgender Day of Remembrance. The event started off with members of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance reading the names of transgender people who have lost their lives to violence and transphobia this year. After that, the keynote speaker Christina King spoke about her experiences being a trans woman in the pageant world.

Christina King is a motivational speaker and a beauty pageant contestant. She won Miss Trans Illinois in 2020 and currently holds the title of Miss Nationwide.

King is active in her community. She serves on the board of the Galesburg Community Relations Commission and the Knox County Health Board where she advises medical providers on LGBTQ+ issues.

“My platform is empowering youth through LGBTQIA membership,” King said in an interview with the Observer. “When Daisy approached me and said, ‘Hey, we would love to have you as our keynote,’ I knew it was a great opportunity.”

Transgender Day of Remembrance’s main stage. (Giang Do)

OSID works hard to create events and bring people and voices to the forefront who have historically been underrepresented. Assistant Director of OSID, Daisy Moran, is also the first LGBTQ+ coordinator at Augustana.

“This was a necessary conversation, not only because of education, but because the transgender community is one that’s extremely oppressed,” Moran said.

King’s talk focused on her experiences as a trans woman. She talked about what it was like coming out as trans and how some friends and family reacted to her authentic self. She also discussed her struggles and what it has been like being a trans woman in the pageant industry. Even though King has won many titles and continues to be an inspirational voice, she still faces hate that she has to push through.

“The biggest thing is learning to navigate myself and pushing myself to do so,” King said. “I’ve had to really push myself to advocate on your and on my own behalf and to trust myself to do so,” King said.

Moran is dedicated to bringing awareness and teaching others about the importance of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I really hope that they’re empowered by Christina’s story and they see themselves in her one way or another. I really hope that students are empowered to be leaders on campus and share what they learned with others. Sometimes it’s important to hear advocacy from people closest to you,” Moran said.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance offers students a chance to learn more about the trans community and be inspired to be their authentic selves. It also serves as a reminder that there is still hate against this community and in this world.

First-year Kat Glusick attended the event and said the slideshow of people who lost their lives to violence and transphobia was impactful. It’s hard sometimes, especially when you surround yourself with inclusive people, to truly understand how rampant transphobia really is.

“Transphobia is real,” Glusick said. “You see all these people, and they’re just normal people, especially with the photographs they had on the slideshow.”

Many people at Augustana are working hard to build a more inclusive community. During Arun Gandhi’s talk, he expressed that one of the steps toward nonviolence is recognizing that our language and the words we use have an impact on those around us. The same is true for inclusivity in our daily lives. One of the first things students can do to help build a more inclusive community is to be conscious of the way they talk.

“I think one of the number one things is just being aware of the language that you use, making sure it’s inclusive and making sure that you’re holding space and creating spaces for all individuals to feel that they’re welcome and belong,” Moran said.