A view from the ground with trans people and their allies at London’s most recent trans solidarity demonstration

Words submitted by London Bi Pandas, #LwiththeT, #GwiththeT, #BwiththeT, Muslim LGBT Network, The Gay Liberation Front, Queer AF Brighton, Transmissions, Educate & Celebrate and more…

On 9 March 2020, a trans solidarity demonstration was held in opposition to a rally organised by the Labour Women’s Declaration. Trans people and allies gathered to oppose and disrupt the meeting, which was designed to call upon Labour Party MP’s to “defend or expel” them for supporting LGB Alliance and Women’s Place UK, since the the Labour Party defined both groups as “hate groups” last year.

LBGA and WPUK have consistently aired their anti-trans views referring to trans people as “gender extremists” and claiming that trans people are erasing lesbians and invading women’s spaces. Trans-inclusive LGBTQIAP+ groups and solidarity campaigns including London Bi Pandas, #LwiththeT #BwiththeT, #GwiththeT, Muslim LGBT Network, The Gay Liberation Front, Queer AF Brighton, Voices4London, Transmissions, Educate & Celebrate and many more, instead stood together chanting powerful messages of solidarity, firmly rejecting these views and associating them to dangerous forms of hate speech dressed up “free speech”. 

“It’s frustrating that a small minority of people are exploiting their platform and claiming to speak on behalf of LGB people and feminists. #LwiththeT fully support their transgender siblings and will continue to stand up for them in the face of bigotry,” added a representative from the solidarity campaign originally set up in response to the anti-trans lesbians that hijacked the Pride In London parade in 2018.

#GwiththeT and #Bwiththet also attended the protest, with #BWithTheT organisers adding that, “It’s also laughable that Julie Bindel could ever be speaking for me, given how openly biphobic she is,” also clarifying that the demo’s main purpose was, “For all the trans people, who are undoubtedly going to see coverage of the event in our increasingly transphobic press, to know that the LGBT+ community does support them and will fight for them.”

Writer Julie Bindel has made public statements rejecting trans identities and existences. She was also joined by academic Selina Todd, representatives from the LGB Alliance and Women’s Place UK. Another organiser of the counter-protest, the London Bi Pandas, said: “We radically and compassionately support trans rights. We will continue to show up in solidarity for our trans siblings, even in the face of blind ignorance, like we were confronted with at last night’s demonstration.”

A protester added: “When 48% of trans youth under the age of 26 said they have attempted suicide and trans discrimination continues to rise, I find these people shamefully irresponsible.”

Organisers of the counter protest also included the Gay Liberation Front originally set up in 60s after the Stonewall Riots: “In 1970, the word gay was used by oppressed sexual and gender revolutionaries to organise under and begin to understand their oppression by society. Language changes, definition changes and GLF want to make it known that all oppressed sexual and gender peoples are part of our community. We are stronger together.” 

A powerful speech was given by the Muslim LGBT Network, one of their representatives said: “I whole heartedly condemn Labour Women’s Declaration, Women’s Place UK and LGB Alliance for their transphobic rhetoric. [Individuals] should also be condemned for the demonisation of a vulnerable minority. I stand in solidarity with the trans community as a cis ally.”

Brighton based group Queer AF added: “We are supporting our friends in London for the same reason that we called a counter demo in Brighton in September, because bigotry is unacceptable! These anti-trans groups manipulate attendees and the media alike to feign some sort of credibility.

“In reality their rhetoric and actions are just like what misogynist men have always done to women, and homophobes have always done to gay people: demean, undermine and incite violence against our trans siblings’ very existences. Trans lives are not a debate.”

Only the day before at the International Women’s Strike in London, hundreds of women joined together to march and carry flags and coloured smoke through Oxford Street, Soho and Piccadilly Circus. This represents inclusive, international feminism which symbolises our collective strength and vibrancy. Whilst, WPUK and LGB Alliance would rather have people believe that our feminist symbols are aggressive when, in reality, they are just reproducing the patriarchal narratives of the cis white men around them, who made up most of the attendance list last night.

Chants during the protest included: “Please know your history, black trans women fought for me”, “LGB with the T”, and “Cis silence, is violence”, statements that remind us all that gay rights were fought for by trans women and that trans people need allies to support them in the face of discrimination and hatred. 

As attendees finally left the building, protesters stood in silence and strength, demonstrating a firm presence of peaceful opposition, and in memory of those siblings we have lost to transphobic violence. 

The groups involved recognise that not enough is being done in the way of trans equality in the UK and that it seems to stem from a widespread ignorance, undoubtedly influenced by national media. If we continue to allow these individuals to promote their divisive views, we will continue to see an increase in transphobia in the UK.

Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors of DIVA magazine or its publishers.

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