Sitting on a stage in Soho Square in Central London, BAFTA award-winning screenwriter Sukey Fisher, 57, told thousands about a “person who saved my life – Stacey.” Sukey and Stacey met 30 years ago, not far from the square. They were the only trans people they knew back then. Sukey had just undergone conversion therapy. “It didn’t kill me, but it took 15 years of good life,” she said to the crowd. “That’s what conversion therapy does.”
“Stace gave me my trans life back,” Sukey continued. “She was a lightning rod. But she didn’t make it – I heard she died at 40 from an overdose. Today, I want to bring her home.”
Her story aligned with many others told at London Trans+ Pride this year, which took place on Saturday the 9th of July and saw attendees march from Wellington Arch to Soho Square.
The mood was equal parts sombre, powerful and joyful, with hoards of people decked out in flowers, flags and holding placards. It was a time for being loud and celebrating the trans community. But it was also a time to remember trans siblings who died, as well as protesting another year of transphobia – and transphobic legislation – in the UK and beyond. This year, the number of trans pride attendees more than doubled, from 7,500 to over 20,000.
“There is a long way to go,” Sukey said, pointing out a placard remembering Alice – a trans woman who died on the 26th of May this year after 1,064 days on the Gender Identity Clinic waiting list. “I never want to see anything like that happen again.”
The crowd dwarfed the small but loud faction of “gender critical” feminists currently lobbying for transphobic laws. Government failings were railed against, including the recent backtracking on banning trans conversion therapy, the wait times for healthcare and hostility towards trans children.
“Look at all of us,” Sukey said, “Back then we were weak, we were just about surviving, and thank God we had each other. But this is a completely new world. We have the strength of our truth. And we don’t have any of those stupid gender binaries anymore.”
Here's what a few of the London Trans+ Pride protesters had to say about why they were attending this year.
“We’re building relationships that are outside of the nuclear binary. Being non-binary doesn’t just translate into your gender and sexuality, it’s other parts of your life too.
“I got kicked out of my family home and I had to do a lot of deconstructing of what it meant to be family. I’m finding new ways of creating family with people who are not blood – these people love me endlessly regardless of who I am.
“I’m rioting for Black trans liberation, the liberation of Black marginalised people and all those who are at the periphery of desirability and of society. Once you help the most marginalised people you’re indirectly creating change throughout. If you’re reading this it’s going to be okay, you’re going to find good people.” — Angel (they/them)
“I’m protesting for more autonomy – over healthcare and our lives. We are not people to be prodded and poked at as attractions, without any respect for our personhood. Black trans lives matter.” – Dio (he/they)
“Disability rights and queer rights are interlocked. Both are for people who get ignored a lot of the time, and they’re about making everyone feel safe in their own skin.
“For trans and queer people there might be places you don’t feel safe in or able to be yourself, it’s the same for disabled people.
“This is my first Trans Pride. In the past year, I’ve really started embracing being myself. It’s a struggle in normal life, but being in queer spaces tops me up with enough joy to go back into normal life and be like, ‘fuck you, this is me.’
It’s tough at the moment, but people should strive to be themselves because it’s worth it. I’m not quite there yet, but even my journey is worth it.” – Ray (they/them)
“Trans pride means being able to go home from the club and not get killed – especially Black trans people.
“When you’re Black and trans you feel this pressure to decide on your identity, and explain it to people. I think that can be harmful.
“We need to be afforded space to grow, whether you’re dolled-up or fresh-faced, whether you need hormones, friendship, counselling or community.” – Oduenyi (they/them/xe/xir)
“My life is fucking joyful, but I have survived to be alive.” – Sukey (she/ her)
“I’m protesting to be visible and to combat some of the crazy things the media is saying on our behalf.
“There is no right age to begin this journey. I would have wanted to know about this earlier, and I want to give that to as many people as possible. Every person I meet has an amazing story – you never feel alone in this community.” – Yves (they / them)
“I want to support my trans siblings, particularly trans siblings of colour. Right now in the UK the situation for trans people is terrible – I work in education and hearing what young trans people experience is really hard.
“What do I think needs to change? The downfall of capitalism, maybe? Injustice affects all systems, whether that’s healthcare, education, policing, housing…
“It’s very rare to find a community where you’re just there for one another. Being out here protesting for each other and fighting for each other’s rights. There’s joy, love, empowerment and supportiveness in that.” – Ife (she/her)