On Saturday the 26th of June, thousands of Trans+ Pride protesters standing in Soho Square listened as Munroe Bergdorf spoke into the microphone: “We are reflections of one another – inextricably linked and spiritually bonded by community.”
Hers wasn’t the only powerful speech given that day. In glorious dress, surrounded by flags, placards and flowers, Bimini Bon Boulash, Kae Tempest and Ki Griffin made their voices heard in support of trans rights. It was also the most attended London Trans+ Pride ever; 2019 saw around 1,500 attendees, which leapt to 5,000 the following year. On Saturday, more than 7,500 trans people and allies showed up.
That makes sense: there has been a lot to protest. In the week running up to London Trans+ Pride, the Royal Academy removed Jess De Wahl’s embroidery from their shop due to her expressed transphobia. Then they apologised. Then they restocked her work. Meanwhile, Gender Identity Clinic The Tavistock appealed the ruling that under-16s could not consent to puberty blockers.
This year, among many things, Trans+ Pride attendees marched for adequate healthcare for trans youth, legal recognition for non-binary people, safety for Black trans people, an end to years-long Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) waiting times, an end to intersex genital mutilation, an end to the relentless blockades to being legally recognised as trans and an end to anti-trans groups.
The community also mourned the loss of Sophie Gwen Williams, co-founder of trans+ charity We Exist, who died by suicide on the 20th of May this year. She had been on the GIC waiting list for five-and-a-half years.
Yet, in the face of it all, Trans+ Pride, as ever, was a day of community, friendship, love and joy. I spoke to some Trans+ Pride attendees about what the day means to them.
‘This is my way of accessing what I’ve missed’
“Trans healthcare needs to change and needs to be reformed. This isn’t just a march – it’s a protest. Two days ago I was denied gamete storage by my GP because being trans is seen as a ‘cosmetic’ thing, and therefore not eligible for funding. It’s transphobia, it’s awful.
“As a young person, I haven’t been able to attend pride before. I haven’t been able to experience queer nightlife because I turned 18 during the pandemic, so this is my way of accessing what I’ve missed. It’s given me confidence. I usually feel like such an alien, and then seeing everyone here I don’t even feel like I’m trans enough!
“In an ideal world, trans people would be integrated into all sectors of society. It shouldn’t be the case that to be a trans lawyer or a trans doctor is a political statement.” – Dextra.
‘Why would you not want to be around trans people all the time?’
From left to right: Fuzzy and Obi
“Trans pride means being with community, being with our people, being included unconditionally and being a part of something that’s bigger. It’s not something that we get to feel often because we’re easily excluded from other places.
There’s a really high rate of suicide and self-harm in the trans community. That needs to change. We need access to healthcare, we need representation, more support, more awareness, we need teachers to teach about transness.” – Fuzzy
“I want more trans people out there – trans supremacy, trans people everywhere, that’s what needs to change. This is amazing, why would you not want to be around trans people all the time? I work in trans communities, so I kind of am, but more people need to be around that. We need to make the world a safer and more inclusive place for our trans youth, our trans babies. Happy childhoods for trans kids.” – Obi
‘The healthcare system is designed to fail. At this point it’s almost conversion therapy’
“We’re stuck in this system where no one is listening to us, and the opposition are being heard more than us, and they use such insidious language that we don’t ever get to voice our own voices.
“The healthcare system is designed to fail. At this point it’s almost conversion therapy – we’re forced to wait for so long, into a point where we’re almost going, ‘Well, is this the right decision?’
“Stonewall educating medical professionals is a really great start. Not enough medics understand what we’re going through.
“I’m writing my dissertation on how trans people exist on different life courses to cis people, and what that means for their self-identity. People are on a waiting list and they feel like they’re in limbo – what does that mean for them?” – Sam
‘I think we need a reformation or to obliterate the gender recognition system’
“Today has been amazing. Pride is a liberation. [It’s about] finally having all your people around you. It creates a sense of safety that I just don’t think queer, trans and non-binary people get anywhere else. It’s like we have to hold our breaths until this one day, where we can just breathe. It keeps us going, getting through the hate crimes and the yelling that we have to deal with the rest of the time.
“I think we need a reformation, or to obliterate the gender recognition system. It’s disgusting. The waiting lists are ridiculous. Waiting lists kill. We need intersex rights, we need it to be recognised and we need to stop surgery on intersex kids immediately.
“We need ‘non-binary’ to be recognised. I’m going into law, yet I’m not even recognised in my own field? I want to be able to have my own identity, in my own legal world. I think we are getting there. Let us be free. Let us live. Let us flourish.” – Sorcha
‘We need more support and more protection’
“I’m here for the energy of being surrounded by my trans and intersex family, and to fight for our rights. Trans pride means protest, it means joy and celebrating who you are and uplifting each other and being there for everybody.
“Healthcare is free, but it’s so inaccessible for trans people at the moment that we’re all having to fundraise ourselves. We need more support and more protection. We need people to change their mindsets and celebrate the fabulousness that is the trans and intersex community.
“We need intersex rights and to be understood. Doctors have tried to medically erase intersex people – we’ve been taught from a very young age to keep silent about it. There’s been a massive push back from intersex adults, but we need to support each other and fight each other’s battles, because it’s exhausting fighting your own battles all the time.” – Izzy
‘It’s good vibes and everyone is meeting everyone for the first time in two years’
“This is actually my first Trans+ Pride. I came out as non-binary not too long ago, so it’s the perfect time to celebrate and I’ve come with my beautiful trans friends. I’ve never been in a situation with so many trans people around.
“Non-binary people don’t have any rights. Even going to the GP and getting my pronouns changed is a nightmare – they won’t do it. Or going to the bank. Then the government says that to change your name or change your pronouns legally, you need to have been living in that gender for two years. If nobody can give you the proof, how are we supposed to change that?
“I was quite scared, because there have been a lot of trans attacks recently, but it’s good vibes and everyone is just meeting everybody for the first time in two years.” – Chelsea
‘We want to be respected, listened to and treated like human beings’
“This is the second time I’ve been to Trans+ Pride. The first time I went it felt really special to be walking with people saying that not just our rights matter, but we matter as people. It’s just really nice to be surrounded by other trans people.
“So much needs to be improved, such as free access to healthcare for all trans+ people. We want to be respected, listened to and treated like human beings.” – Zamy
‘In an ideal world, people wouldn’t need to assert their right to be’
“I know that I wouldn’t be able to walk down the street as I am if it weren’t for trans people kicking off. Currently, trans+ and gender non-conforming people remain the most marginalised within the queer community. Access to healthcare is shocking, and therefore we see disproportionate rates of poor mental health, transphobia and bullying. The waiting times and the dysphoria trans+ people experience is heartbreaking.
In an ideal world, people wouldn’t need to assert their right to be. We would have autonomy about how we are spoken about. We wouldn’t need to jump to defining ourselves because someone is defining us incorrectly.” – Luca
‘We need governmental reform and healthcare reform’
“It’s a really special moment this year, because Pride didn’t happen, so we have an opportunity to build something outside of this corporate scheme.
“We need governmental reform, healthcare reform, to actually treat trans people as serious human beings and listen to their needs and problems rather than making the issue around what you think the issue is.” – Sam