I’ve done a lot of things over the pandemic to fight for trans rights from behind my screen. From working with the amazing Jacob and Grace to launch The Validation Station, through running virtual pride events, to helping create safe spaces online, I’ve tried to use my activism energy to engage positively in a world where meeting up face-to-face had temporarily become impossible. But you know what I’d missed more than anything? Standing alongside fellow LGBTQ+ folk to shout out for justice to a world too quick to dismiss us as a quiet niche. I hadn’t been to London in more than 18 months when, on a slightly overcast morning, I loaded placards and a couple of friends into my small-yet-sturdy car and headed towards Hyde Park Corner to take part in the first major trans pride event since the virus began.
It had been a while since I last made placards, but I was pleased to have got out some of my vibrant Stuart Semple paints and created a sign that drew some attention. We arrived in London around an hour before the event was due to start and… immediately got harassed by haters on the way to the meeting point by two men saying “protect trans kids? That’s disgusting!” Proof, I suppose of how desperate the situation is here in the UK – and how needed the day’s parade would be.
Finally arriving at the gathering point at Wellington Arch, I was immediately inspired and taken aback by how many people were there. My friend Shroomy set about finishing off some placards, my friend Corin went off to join in the samba band, and I took a walk around to take in the scenery. And what a scene it was.
Older trans people. Young trans people. Thin trans people. Fat trans people. Trans people of colour. Allies. We were everywhere, we were vibrant, and we were fierce. If my mask weren’t on, the crowd would have seen my mouth agape at the sheer brilliance of it all. I was home.
From new friends to old, and from friends I was seeing face-to-face for the first time after only having interacted online, the crowd was filled with familiar faces from my years as a trans activist and work in and around the LGBTQ+ community. At one point I even spotted Bimini Bon Boulash, who’s new single ‘God Save This Queen‘ is a non-binary summer anthem.
The march from Wellington Arch to Soho Square was just under two and a half kilometers long, but it felt like a tenth of that. I barely noticed that my legs were moving as we walked through the streets of London shouting “Trans Rights Now” and “Trans Rights are Human Rights”. It was a powerful feeling, and we arrived in London’s gay district to songs and celebrations by those already there. And then came speeches.
“This is not a moment. We are not a moment. This is our legacy…. We are stronger together. We cannot let idiotic countermovements like LGB Alliance and TERFs and gender-critical feminism tear us apart.”Munroe Bergdorf
Back at a Transgender Day of Remembrance event in 2019 I worked alongside Munroe Bergdorf to deliver some hard-hitting speeches and read the list of the names of people who had died that year. Back then she was amazing – but kicking off the speeches at Trans Pride London she shone even brighter, reminding us all that we stand tall and proud as a community, and finishing her speech with a rousing chorus of “fuck the Tories.”
Other speeches from Hollyoaks actor Kai Griffin, queer poet Kai Isaiah Jamal, and Philosophy Tube’s Abigail Thorn helped to turn the event into something that so many corporate pride events fail to be: a show of force created by the community, for the community, that empowers, educates, and leaves us all feeling that little bit less alone.
After catching up with old friend and fellow activist Elaine, sitting down and chatting to Roz, Vic, and Michelle, all of whom I admire and love, and meeting the amazing Mae Martin, darkness started to draw in and it was time to head back to the car and get home to my cat (who, predictably, is named after a trans rights riot).
I was buzzing. My day at Trans Pride London had felt like reconnecting with a large extended family. I was both important and insignificant, one drop in an ocean of love and acceptance. It was powerful, inspirational, and wonderful beyond measure.
On the tube back to the car me and my friend Corin, still holding his “protect trans kids” banner, got accosted by two men who wanted us both to know their feelings on trans people. “I’ve read all about you lot,” one said, “and it’s kids that need protecting from you.”
I put my arm around my friend and sighed. This really isn’t a moment – it’s a movement. And it’s more important than ever.