‘It’s about being proud and happy of our existence in the world’: Trans pride returns to London

Protesters gather to call for an end of oppression towards the trans community

Yas Necati,Angela Christofilou
Saturday 26 June 2021 22:18
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“We’ve already won,” Bethany, 25, says, looking around at the crowd gathering at Wellington Arch. On 26 June 2021, trans people and allies took to the streets to protest continued oppression, to be in community and to celebrate trans lives.

One protester is going round offering home baked vegan brownies: “They’re still warm from this morning.” A legal observer is handing out notes with protest advice. People who have met for the first time are sharing chalk to write “trans people were here” on the ground.

There’s an overwhelming sense of community, and it’s this that Bethany feels has won over discrimination toward trans people. “Things are going to get better and it’s because of people here today saying screw you to those who hate us for who we are,” they say.

“Events like today are a massive show to forces that would fight against trans rights, queer rights, LGBT rights.”

Alongside the celebration and pride, there is an undercurrent of sadness and urgency at the protest. “Now more than ever it’s important to reclaim our narrative. We want healthcare and lives free of violence, hate and discrimination,” one protester says.

“I’m here today because we live in an unprecedented time of attacks against trans people, specifically trans young people,” another shares.

Although most passers by are friendly and there are quite a few cheers, there are moments of oppression. Amid chants of “trans rights are human rights”, one passer by sarcastically shouts slogans back at protesters from the pavement. Later on another person throws an empty fizzy drink can into the crowd, laughing.

“We can do so much better than this,” a protester says about the discrimination trans people continue to face day to day.

Despite the continued attacks, there is an overwhelming feeling of hope at the protest, with trans people dancing and singing together, celebrating one another. I speak to Jackson, 30 – “But I don’t look a day over 25” – he tells me. Who jokes, “I’m here at trans pride to see other hot trans people, because, look at us.”

There are also a high number of cis people at the protest. “I identify as a cis gay man and I’m here because one of my best friends, who I’ve lived with for eight years, is trans and supporting them and making them feel comfortable is so important to me,” says James, 28.

A passer by with a child is telling the child “this is a protest about making sure everyone is treated with care”.

Glodi, 30, speaks about the interconnectedness of oppressions. “I’m here for two different reasons. One is to show solidarity with the trans community. As a Black man I feel like we don’t do enough to support Black trans people at all.

“We talk about Black Lives Matter but it comes with an asterisk – it tends to support mostly cis Black men, but when anything happens to Black women for example we go silent. If anything happens to Black trans people, we go silent,” he says.

“We tend to ignore their experiences and focus only on the cis experience. So that’s why I’m here – to basically say that we need to do better.”

Another protester says, “It actually makes me quite upset when I see that not everyone in the community is standing up for trans rights. I think as a cisgender, gold star lesbian, I can recognise that I have a lot of privileges against other people in the community.

“I gathered a whole gang of my friends to make sure that we all come because I feel like it’s important to show masses – people care.” she says.

“We don’t all have to be trans to stand up for trans pride, the same way that we don’t all have to be dykes to go to dyke march and we don’t all have to be identifying as LGBT specifically to go to a march, especially because this is not a corporate march, it’s just a demonstration, which is what the roots of pride and marching is.”

As the protest draws to a close and people gather for speeches, Nadia, 36, who is there with her son, says, “I feel like trans rights matter so much for everyone, no matter what your gender identity is, and on top of that as a parent of a trans young person, it specifically matters to his future and his life.”

Her son, Callum, 15, is shy and smiling. Nadia asks him gently, “What does it mean to be here among other trans people?” And he pauses for a second before saying, “It’s been really nice.”

As the marchers disperse, it feels that Bethany has captured what the day means for trans people old and young – “It’s about being proud and happy of our existence in the world.”

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