Anger and militancy filled the streets of London on Saturday as around 15,000 people took part in the fourth Trans+ Pride in the capital. Protesters celebrated being LGBT+ and firmly demanded their rights.
The pride started at Wellington Arch and marched to Soho Square for a rally. Em hadn’t been to Trans Pride before. “I came out as non-binary last year,” they told Socialist Worker. “It’s great to meet people and also protest for our rights.
“The whole world is fucked. Conversion therapy makes me feel physically ill. It’s one step forward and ten steps back. I live in a Tory area and I feel like a spectacle. So to come here as part of a collective is powerful. I feel safe and that’s important. It’s easy to feel deflated and be cynical. When we come together we are powerful.”
Em added that it’s important to see people at Trans+ Pride ready to fight, “Rather than hop on pride for the sesh.”
Lara, who was visiting London from Portugal, has recently come out as trans. She said that the protest is important for visibility for trans people—and to show that trans people exist. “I felt marginalisation—until I was 25, three years ago, I didn’t even know transgender was a thing,” she said. “This is my chance to say and show that I exist.”
Placards on the demonstration read, “We’re not going anywhere,” and, “Trans healthcare saves lives”. And, “There is no LGB without the T,” and, “There would be no pride without black trans women.”
Protesters raged at Boris Johnson and his Tories. Another protester told Socialist Worker, “I can’t stand them. They’re ruining lives.” “Johnson used to seem like a comic figure but he’s not funny,” the protester said, “He’s gone, but we have to keep being angry at him until he’s fully gone.”
She added that it’s horrific Tories push the narrative that trans people are the problem. “Tory MPs don’t stop abusing women, and they want us to think our toilets aren’t safe,” she said. “It’s a joke.”
GMB, NEU and Unison union delegations with banners also joined the pride. Neil is a teacher and NEU member in east London. “It’s important that we’re here because we represent and teach lots of children,” he said. “We are standing up for them and our members who are also oppressed and dismissed.”
Neil said it’s important that trade unionists are at Pride. “What we have in common is struggle,” he said. “That’s what trade unions are about and it’s important for people to see that and stand in solidarity.”
Protesters made clear that trans rights are human rights—and changes to trans health care is crucial. This includes making hormone drugs free and NHS-run gender identity clinics accessible.
Bee told Socialist Worker, “Trans rights means changes to health care.” They explained that wait times can mean trans people waiting for the best part of a decade. “And referrals don’t get passed on—or you have to start again if you change doctors,” they said.
“There are so many people you have to go through and it takes just one of those people to say no. There’s also only a handful of clinics. They ask you so many personal questions about your sexual life. You have to be in a bad place, or have had something gone badly wrong, to be taken seriously.”
But Bee said, “A privileged few don’t have to go through this if they can afford to go private—and this just encourages privatisation.” They added that this is similar to accessing abortion. “People don’t make the connection between these two struggles and they need to especially with abortion under threat,” they said.
Meanwhile, up to 1,500 people joined an Abortion Rights march from Trafalgar Square to the US embassy later in the afternoon.
On Trans+ Pride protesters chanted, “Waiting lists are killing me,” and, “Abortion is a human right. Our body our rules.” Others chanted, “We don’t want your exploitation, we just want trans liberation.”
Andy told Socialist Worker, “It’s a struggle being trans. I feel lonely and I’m going through a journey that you’re not taught. Most trans people aren’t raised by trans parents.” Andy added that without protest, rights can be taken away.
Protester Millie said we need a fightback. “We’re under mass attack worldwide and especially in Britain, with Conservative transphobia and on the left too,” they said. They added that Trans+ Pride is more rooted in protest “where Prides came from before they were co-opted by the corporations”. “But it’s important for LGBT+ people to be joyful about who they are—it’s a way to protest against the status-quo.”
In the face of the Tories’ attacks, the fight for trans rights is angrier and more determined than ever. And the growing mobilisations of trans+ people on the streets shows the power militant Pride protests have.
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