Anti-trans activists are taking the power out of Pride

A spate of seemingly acceptable abuse and harassment of trans people is having a tangible effect on trans people’s lives

Gemma Stone
Saturday 06 July 2019 15:16 BST
Pride Month

Pride is supposed to be a celebration of our differences, of the fact that it’s okay to be a gay man, a lesbian woman, bisexual, an intersex person, queer and yes, even trans.

It’s a middle finger to those who would aim to make us unhappy and our lives harder, a defiant staring down of wider society. One where we let everyone know that we’re here and we love who we are with an incredible gleefulness, even despite the dire situations we’re often put in.

However, the last couple of years of Pride have felt more than a little worrisome for many trans people like me, as anti-trans activists have taken to protesting trans equality at these events.

They got in front of the parade at London’s 2018 Pride, and in 2019 they have stepped up their efforts by showing up at multiple Pride events in different areas, including internationally. Some anti-trans activists were spotted in the sunshine at Vienna Pride after having been picked up off the floor in South Wales only a week earlier.

These efforts are combined with other anti-trans efforts, including campaigns such as #DropTheT, where anti-trans activists have been pushing for trans people to be kicked out of the LGBT+ acronym. It’s pretty clear they don’t think Pride or the LGBT+ community should be supporting trans people at all.

I think this has been a big wake-up call to many people, who previously hadn’t noticed this stuff happening. But it is and really, protesting Pride is only the tip of the hateful iceberg (or hateberg, if you fancy). There’s so much more to the pattern of trans-exclusionary behaviour that isn’t as well known.

In recent memory, anti-trans activists have campaigned against trans women being allowed to use a women’s swimming pond in Hampstead Heath. They launched what they called “ManFriday”, where they decided they would become men on Fridays and go around doing things like using men’s bathrooms or going to men’s swimming days.

They have egregiously harassed and abused someone elected as Labour Students Women’s Officer, purely for being a trans woman. They have campaigned to oppose changes to the gender recognition act, and spread misinformation about how it would affect women’s spaces. They’ve written to anyone and everyone in order to exclude us from women’s spaces and society. They even called for a boycott when Cancer Research UK used trans inclusive language surrounding cervical cancer because trans men actually do exist.

They have also showed up at trans people’s jobs and yelled abuse at them, as was the case with Sarah McBride. They found out a trans woman was at a Reclaim The Night event, and sought her out so they could yell abuse at her. If you happen to be a trans woman who wants to have a dance at women’s disco? You bet they’ll be taking your photo to upload to Twitter where they and their friends can further abuse and harass you.

All of this seemingly acceptable abuse and harassment of trans people is having a tangible effect on trans people’s lives. Not only do we feel unsafe in a lot of areas, including those that we were supposed to always feel safe in, such as Pride, but even children are picking up on the anti-trans prejudices in our society and acting on them. This was the case when a 15-year-old girl was attacked so brutally, her teacher said that if they hadn’t stepped in when they did she might not still be with us.

If we can’t come together and strongly condemn transphobia in our societies, at our events, online wherever we see it. Then the message we send to trans people is deafeningly clear; We don’t care how badly you’re treated, you’re not welcome here.

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It should never have gone as far as any of these stories; we should have done the right thing in strongly supporting trans equality sooner. We didn’t, and countless abuses have occurred because of our inaction, too many to list within the word count here.

What’s important is that we recognise this stuff is happening and start doing something about it now. If you’re unsure on where to start? Look for an LGBT+ organisation near you, and ask what you can do to support trans people in your local area. Heck, even go try to make some trans friends we could sure do with knowing more people who aren’t trying to get rid of us.

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