Jenna Reyanne Martin, a Goshen College graduate and an active member of the LGBTQ+ community, visited GC on Nov. 20. Martin came to campus to speak at a bonus convocation in remembrance of all lives lost in the LGBTQ community, with a focus on transgender deaths.

The bonus convo was put on by Advocates, and the president, Aiden Schloneger, said, “Her being a Goshen College alumna, living in Goshen, and having given other sermons about being LGBTQ made our decision easy, as she seemed like the perfect fit.”

Schloneger first came into contact with Martin through the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT interests while looking for available speakers.

Martin spoke on her experience as a transgender woman, as well as inequalities faced by transgender people and transgender people of color. “Many trans and LGBTQ+ people don’t have safe places to feel at home,” Martin said during her talk. 

Martin also cited the unequal distribution of murder victims in the transgender community, and said that transgender people are “four times more likely to be victimized than cisgender people,” and “80% of transgender murder victims were people of color.” 

Martin also encouraged attendees to “use your power to make the world a better place.” Schloneger said that inclusivity is important on campus, too: “By being inclusive, we can make sure that everyone has a safe learning environment and can see representation of people who are like them in their chosen major or line of work.” 

Advocates followed up their bonus convocation with a candlelight vigil that evening, held in Schrock Plaza. Students, faculty and community members gathered in a circle while club members read the names and memoirs of the 26 transgender people who have lost their lives to transphobic violence in the U.S. over the past year. The vigil ended with a short benediction in remembrance.