Embroidered on our hearts: Creating the Trans Wings Quilt Project

the voice and vision of a new generation

Embroidered on our hearts: Creating the Trans Wings Quilt Project

November 20, 2018

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) occurs on November 20th each year to observe the lives of transgender individuals who have been lost to anti-transgender violence. On this day, LGBTQ+ people and allies across the world hold marches, vigils, or other events to bring attention to anti-trans violence and the increasing rates of violence towards transgender people of color. Although there continues to be overwhelming unwanted negativity that comes with being transgender there is also a need to celebrate and honor the lives of those who have died.

Under the Trump Administration trans people are even more at risk of being targeted for violence. In addition to violence, transgender people face greater risks for depression and suicide than their cisgender counterparts. This can be due to any number of variables, including dysphoria and lack of acceptance from family, peers, or other communities. I was challenged to look at that negativity in a different light after the death of student, Casey Hoke in August 2018. Casey was an incredible activist who took the time to get to know me during our time as National Student Council Members with GLSEN. He gave me valuable information on how to come out as transgender to my family and was overall an amazing advocate.

In 2015, Casey came to Texas to give a presentation at Lee College and he stayed with my family while he was in town. I have a vivid memory of sitting with him in the treehouse in my backyard. He sat across from me as I plucked a song on my ukulele and he was embroidering a small planet face in a really small hoop. I couldn’t tell you what planet it was now, but I recently remembered that moment so clearly when talking to a friend, who immediately thought of the AIDS memorial quilt and the panels made for it. Upon realizing I had the skills and the ability to actually do something about it, I got to work.

Patch of the Trans Wings Quilt, 2018.

I started the Transgender Wings Quilt Project to pick up where Casey left off. He was an incredibly talented man who encouraged people to use their art to make a statement, and I intend to continue to share that message through this project. A quilt is meant to be a comforting and beautiful thing and attaching the memories of our lost transgender siblings adds to the weight. The lives of transgender people are unique and beautiful and the quilt project aims to display that individuality and the weight their presence brought to our community.

This year, the Wings Quilt Project will create its 2018 inaugural quilt, made up of 1-foot by 1-foot panels created during workshops hosted by several LGBTQ+ organizations in Houston and display it at the University of Houston campus upon completion. In displaying it, I hope that my local community will understand the true loss the trans community faces when it comes to anti-transgender violence. I want viewers to be presented with the fact that these silenced voices will never be erased.

If you want to get involved with the Wings Quilt Project, please email transwingsquiltproject@gmail.com or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wingsquilt.

Orion Ibert is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and senior at the University of Houston studying human development. He is passionate about advocating for queer and disabled communities and is currently an Out for Education Scholar. He is a former GLSEN National Student Council Member and student ambassador for the UH LGBTQ+ Resource Center.

the voice and vision of a new generation