This month, members of the Bootcamp community joined activists, allies and trans folks to show solidarity and support for trans rights at London Pride.
Trans people to the front
This month, a group of trans people, lesbians, and queer allies showing support for trans rights led the 2019 Pride in London march. This comes just one year after the same event was hijacked by a small group of anti-trans protesters trying to force divisions in the LGBTQ+ community between trans folks and lesbians, carrying banners with slogans like ‘transactivism erases lesbians’.
This year, a number of organisations and individuals including Bootcamp’s Lead Trainer and graduates started organising to ensure that trans people and trans allies could lead the march, standing up to transphobia and stating unequivocal support for the rights of trans people.
Bootcamp graduates and community members joined organisations such as Level Up, Stonewall, UK Black Pride, Mermaids, L with the T, Outside Project, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, and African Rainbow Family to march in the parade in London on Saturday, with banners, placards and flags. The front of the march featured an inclusive Pride flag and a trans flags.
Lesbian groups took a particularly strong stance this year in order to make clear that the attempts at last years Pride in London to divide the community were in vain. L with the T is a solidarity group set up in direct response to that event to make clear that Lesbians are with the Trans people in the community. You can see more about their reasons for marching here (including a video featuring Bootcamp Grad Mefi Sushy, from the No More White Ignorance campaign). Dykes on Bikes London also made their debut in the parade, citing increased transphobia and homophobia as their reason for joining. Groups of bisexual people and gay and queer men also showed their support for trans rights, under ‘B with the T’ and ‘G with the T’ banners.
The wider context
On the day before Pride In London, a small group of transphobic activists stood outside LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall’s Children and Young People’s Conference shouting anti-trans rhetoric, with giant placards including graphic (and non-consensual) imagery of trans people’s bodies immediately post-surgery, a favoured but inhumane tactic of anti-choice organisations such as the groups who organised this small, fringe protest.
Worried about another anti-trans protest surfacing the next day, a simple guide to how to deal TERFs circulated on social media before Pride via a group of activists led by trans people of colour including Bootcamp Lead Trainer Nim and other Bootcamp Graduates. They also printed and circulated thousands of the flyers at Pride in London so that the wider LGBTQ+ could help respond to anti-trans protesters if they showed up.
The advice given on the flyers was:
- A: Alert people.
- B: Block them from view.
- C: (Give them the) Cold shoulder.
‘This year I was invited to march in a solidarity block as an activist and trans person of colour,” Lead Bootcamp trainer Nim said of Pride in London. ‘Given everything that’s happened in the last year since the transphobic lesbians stormed the 2018 Pride in London march, it felt important that the LGBQ+ community showed up to make this year’s Pride all about their solidarity with trans folks.’
Nim also pointed out that transphobia was also being spread by other groups and individuals, including multiple mainstream media outlets. All of this has culminated in an 81% rise in transphobic hate crime in the UK.
Despite being pleased with the amount of trans-support at this year’s Pride, Nim notes that there is still a lot of work to be done to get to a point where trans people feel included and safe to attend such events. ‘Pride should not just be tolerant of us joining the march, and not just inclusive of us. It should be led by us, as it was during the Stonewall riots, 50 years ago.’
Plans for the first London Trans Pride were also announced earlier this year. Due to take place on 14th September, the event will celebrate and centre trans, intersex, non-binary and gender non-conforming people.
Whilst London Trans Pride is undoubtedly a good thing, it felt important to many LGBTQ+ people at Pride to let trans people know that they are welcome there, which is why the event was awash with people wearing t-shirts and carrying banners and placards with slogans such as; ‘Protect Trans Children’ and ‘I learned what I know about true feminism from the trans women in my life.’
Different Prides are Possible
They day after Pride In London, Bootcamp graduate Phyll (known widely as Lady Phyll) also hosted the biggest ever UK Black Pride. 14 years after Lady Phyll co-founded UK Black Pride by organising a trip to Southend-on-Sea with a group of queer black women, this year saw almost 10,000 people filling into Haggerston Park.
It’s clear that demand for spaces, moments and celebrations like UK Black Pride are as necessary as ever. Lady Phyll said ‘Pride is not just a celebration, it’s about change that needs to happen so that we are not constantly living in a state of being marginalised. I may not be here in the next 10 years, 20 years or 30 years, but I want to be able to leave a legacy. A legacy that means that the next generation aren’t having to fight twice as hard as us, but that things are made easier for them.’
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