The first time I went to Trans+ Pride was in London, in 2019. Brooke Candy threw an afterparty. It was just full of queers coming together, and people from east London who you know have peoples' backs. What it felt like was an actual protest. It felt radical. Still, it's sad that it's been over 50 years since the Stonewall riots, and we're at a point where we're still having to protest for basic trans rights. How did that happen?
Trans+ Pride is especially important this year because last year we didn't have anything like it. Also, 2020 was so orientated around COVID that a lot of medical appointments were being pushed back or cancelled and that included trans peoples' treatments. For trans people, that can be extremely detrimental to their wellbeing and who they are.
A lot of Pride events seem to now be splitting. It's a shame that Trans+ Pride has to be separate from the main event. But it’s had to happen. In 2018, I remember trans-exclusionary “radical” feminists hijacking the Pride parade to protest against trans people. The exclusion of trans people is wild. Most people should know the history of Pride, how it started and the gender non-conforming people who were at the forefront of the movement. Ideally we would be together, fighting for the same goal, but it's not going in that direction right now.
I've got a family member who came out as trans in the 80s, in Scotland. She was exiled from the community. It was front page news that she had transitioned. The rhetoric in the media back then was about mocking people and outing them as trans. Now, transphobia is a lot more insidious. The narrative is that they're “predators” or that they'll hurt people, and that makes people feel scared about a marginalised group that needs protecting. The majority of trans people just want to be accepted and treated like a human. It's really important that we rally together – that's also what Trans+ Pride is about.
As someone who is non-binary, I've been so lucky to have been welcomed into the mainstream. RuPaul's Drag Race UK allowed people to listen to my story and relate to it. I got messages from people being like, “Oh, what you said: I feel like that.” And that's from people of all ages: people in their fifties and sixties and really young people. Mothers and fathers messaged me saying, “I've had conversations with my child and how they feel and I understand it now.” That came as the result of an honest conversation on the show between myself and [Drag Race UK contestant] Ginny Lemon.
There needs to be a lot more of that in the public eye. When people listen to non-binary or trans people, they understand a lot more, they empathise with them. You see the human. You don't just read a media article telling you something that's not true, or not reflective of a bigger picture. Honest conversation pushes the wider conversation further than hysteria or harm.
Despite the times we're living in, I firmly believe that the children are the future. Whitney Houston was not wrong. My little sister came out as being part of the LGBTQ community when she was 12, which is incredible. She's 14 years younger than me. A lot of people laugh at the TikTok generation, but if you go on TikTok and see the conversations that they have around gender and identity, it's so far forward from where people my age are at, or were at when we were their age. They're much more accepting. Hopefully young people will continue that domino effect. It's important. They need to propel this conversation into the future.
London Trans+ Pride will take place on the 26th of June at Wellington Arch, Hyde Park at 2PM.