Photo from Vancouver’s 2017 Trans March; courtesy of Xtra.
[Image description: Marcher holding a placard showing that being trans does not equal being a target.]
By Amelia A. J. Foy
This year’s Pride In London parade was disrupted and then led by an anti-trans group rallying to take the L out of LGBT, because “transactivism erases lesbianism” and cis lesbians are supposedly pressured to have sex with trans women. (I do not want to expose any more trans people to the photos of them marching; to see them, click here.) There’s no way to frame what happened in a way that doesn’t disgust me as a queer person. What happened was completely disgusting, and disgustingly unsurprising.
Transphobic rhetoric has risen noticeably recently, fed and bred by myths that frame trans women especially as the perpetrators of acts they are statistically more likely to be victims of. Trans women experience sexual violence at a much higher rate than cis women, including cis lesbians. Flipping this reality to fit a narrative of sexuality and The Trans Predator is extremely damaging. This is the core issue - it isn’t about a couple of banners. Having a group of TERFs (trans exclusionary radical feminists) lead an event intended as a safe space for queer people - an event built off the resistance of trans women of colour - is not just outrageous, it’s dangerous. According to a 2014 report, the life expectancy of a trans woman is 30-35 due to the amount of violence they experience (which is heightened for non-white trans people). In this age of increasing trans visibility, people with little to no exposure to trans people point and go, “but I don’t get it.” When these questions or scrutiny is met with “trans men/women aren’t real men/women”, and on top of that the assertion that trans people are a threat, from voices within the LGBT+ community, trans people’s lives are put at risk.
But, Pride In London hasn’t been a place for trans people, especially non-white folx, for a long time. A parade marched by banks and brands and LGBTories, where barriers stop the queer public from marching with them, and LGBT+ charities have to campaign to march (e.g. The Outside Project for homeless LGBT+ people), is such a far cry from its origins as a trans-led riot against police brutality. And further such a far cry from trans people’s lived experience; it’s hard to believe in a rainbow sign when you have been harassed in the changing rooms of that store. The parade is for profit; not for us.
This is all evidenced by the events of this year’s pride. Last year, when an anti-police trans group blocked the parade in protest, they were removed within 5 minutes; yet the police allow the transphobes to lead the march. Their biases aren’t even hidden. Wearing a rainbow-flower-fake-Hawaiian necklace doesn’t mask the scent of their institutional queerphobia.
Dear trans readers: you are worthy and you are loved. There are better pride events where you are recognised and included. Let's all leave Pride In London to the cishets who think it’s an excuse to drink and wear festival looks.