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Fear of violence keeping some in the closet

ALPENA, Mich. — This Saturday is the Transgender Day of Rememberance. It memorializes the many trans people who were killed just for being their true selves.

As part of Transgender Awareness week, we spoke to members of the LGBT group at Alpena Community College.

Seth Golson is a genderfluid student at ACC who uses they/them pronouns. They’re also a founding member of the “ACC Takes Pride” group. They said that Northeast Michigan has a sizeable queer community, but many feel they can only be themselves around each other.

“I’ve talked to friends, and they’re afraid to be out there and publicly recognized as part of the LGBT community. They’re afraid people will harass them or hurt them.”

It makes sense some would be afraid. Faculty supervisor Shawn Sexton said trans people are the victims of violence four times more than other minority groups.

Sexton told WBKB education and discussion are crucial for breaking down the barriers of prejudice.

“There’s always going to be concern when you’re a minority group. And this town lends to lean conservative. But the more we educate people, and the more conversations we have, the less that concern will be.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2021 was one of the deadliest years for transgender people, with 45 killed in homicides.