Protesters in London. Photo: VV Shots / Alamy Stock Photo
From a stage outside Downing Street, 14-year-old Kate Gee addressed the crowd: “I do think think people fail to remember that the population of transphobic teens’ views are mostly inspired by the ignorance of their parents.”Last Friday, the young and proud trans girl joined a host of speakers and hundreds of people protesting the UK government’s failure to safeguard LGBTQ+ people.
For intersex people, this would mean making it illegal to perform “corrective” surgeries on minors. For trans+ people, eradicating healthcare wait times of three to five years and providing healthcare to under-18s. For gender non-conforming people, it would mean banning conversion therapy as promised and without exceptions. Overall, protesters also asked for adequate training from government officials to healthcare professionals on the right to equal treatment. We spoke to one of the organisers and some of the protesters about why they chose to be there.
I organised this trans rights protest specifically targeting the government's failure to protect and enable trans people in the UK. Things have built up over the past four years. One of the biggest issues is trans healthcare and the incredibly dangerous waiting lists. The Gender Recognition Act hasn’t been reformed, trans youth are at risk of not having necessary medical care, and so many other issues it now becomes difficult to list.[Cis allies] need to platform trans people. It’s very important not only for them to show up at Pride events – when there’s going to be a party – but to show up at a protest. Platform trans people online, write to MPs, because ultimately cis people are the ones that other people listen to.Protests like these always provide a wonderful sense of solidarity that trans people often don’t when they are so far from each other. Trans people often don’t feel like they have a community. It can help people feel strengthened to keep on fighting things like this.
I’m a Black trans guy, so I experience severe amounts of homophobia and transphobia in the professional environment, and I ended up with PTSD. I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t know that I shouldn’t be ashamed of who I was. It took me three years to recover. I couldn’t read or write, I couldn’t eat in public settings. But today I am an out, proud Black trans guy. I don’t understand how this country can say it’s leading the change. They’ve disbanded the LGBT advisory panel, which means they believe they have the right level of LGBT activism. Having the Secretary of State for International Trade as the Minister for Women and Equalities implies that equalities is a part-time job. You can’t do part-time diversity. Diversity isn't a hobby. We need someone who understands what communities are trying to work for. How can you have an equalities minister that’s voting against having welfare? How can you have an equalities minister who, after the largest civil rights movement in UK history, thinks it is appropriate to say that it's a fashionable trend, then releases a report stating racism doesn’t exist in the UK? Liz Truss needs to give her role to someone who can do it effectively.Trans Actual UK has loads of resources for allies. If you have five minutes, you can research trans and non-binary history and rights. If you have ten minutes, you can start being a trans and non-binary ally in your workplace. There’s even a free resource where you can update the HR policy and dress-codes in your company to make it pro trans and non-binary people. If you have more time, you can write to your MP too.
While we’ve come a very long way in terms of trans acceptance, we’ve still got a hell of a long way to go. You’ve only got to look at the people in Downing Street to see what needs to change. But all the political parties are failing to bring any sort of clarity to trans people.I'm so lucky to have a parent who is supportive. I don't know what I’d do without that, but a lot of people aren't. We need to support people who aren't as lucky with family. I think cis people can offer support. They should be kind, be respectful and feel free to ask questions. On a personal level, I want people to ask questions, because the more questions people ask, the more people understand. But don’t be aggressive and don’t ask any questions that you wouldn’t want to be asked.
Some of my friends are transgender. One of my friend’s kids came out last year as transgender and is struggling with it. I'm down here for him and my other friends. We all need to support each other – you don't have to be part of the demographic to support it. I work for a council, and we have always wanted to try and do equality and diversity, but it feels lacking in how up-to-date some of the things are. We need proper education so people know what a group stands for, not what everyone thinks a group stands for. I'm a cis person myself, and I identify as an ally. To be a good ally, if you see someone make a mistake, you correct them and explain how you know it’s wrong. I feel that sometimes a lot of the biggest things are the simplest.
I'm here because of the various structural injustices that trans people are facing today. Healthcare is particularly bad. I believe that, under the rate of referral to appointment between 2016 and 2020, if someone were to be referred there now, they wouldn't be seen until six to 12 years. This wait time is killing us. Recently there was a Gender Recognition Act consultation that stirred up massive waves of transphobia. But nothing was done about the fact that if you're married, your spouse can veto your gender change. Nothing's been done about the fact that there's no recognition for non-binary people. It's a horrible situation for trans people in the UK.In academia, we’re seeing what I'd call scientific transphobia, and it’s the same thing we saw with scientific racism back in the day. Then, every day in the media, we’re seeing more stories and opinion pieces which are platforming transphobic narratives and transphobic misinformation.
The government is trying to take away our rights and treat us as secondary human beings.I've been medically transitioning for at least seven years, and socially for more than ten. I was almost kicked out by my family and we didn't see eye to eye for a very long time. So it's important to me that the government educates about and supports the trans community so that the general population begins to understand that this is just a normal thing. We just want to live like everybody else. We don't want to abuse anybody. We just want to pee in the toilet. If you go back into the study of native communities, most of them have this kind of gender, which most people would now call trans or non-binary. It was revered. It’s only the Western society that is very strictly male and female. [This social model] takes away from the beauty of what is trans and what trans people can be. @heather_glazzard / @p_allingham