On Saturday 7th July 2018 the London Pride parade took place, a parade that was supposed to celebrate the diversity within the LGBTQIA+ community in its entirety. This supposed sense of community and solidarity was completely overthrown when the parade was highjacked by eight transphobic cis-women known as TERFs (trans exclusionary radical feminists) operating under the twitter hashtag #GetTheLOut who managed to infiltrate and lead the parade with anti-trans banners and leaflets with claims that they wanted the “L out of LGBT” and that “Trans activism erases lesbians”. A PinkNews reporter at the parade live streamed their protest, which quickly filled up the newsfeeds of us individuals within the trans community in Brighton and Hove, who were eagerly anticipating the sixth Trans Pride. These anticipatory feelings of excitement and validation suddenly turned sour, and were replaced with fear, anger and a sense of unease.
Despite the clear transphobic aggression and discrimination, the protestors were allowed to carry on, and were not stopped immediately. London Pride released a statement shortly after the event, declaring “hot weather” and “safety” as their reasoning for letting them invade the space, and then later tried to clarify that they condemn the groups views completely, stating their values as “inclusion and respect and support” for its trans community, but were legally not allowed to remove them from the parade as it was “not a criminal offence”.
To us in Brighton, this was a huge let down from London Pride, the two statements were contradictory and a clear refusal to acknowledge the devastation and challenged safety that this has caused many trans people across the nation. Prioritising community, visibility, wellbeing and love, #LwiththeT was formed as a grassroots counter-action, where across social media we asked those who do not agree with the transphobic display and ID as cis, female and lesbian, to create and share a five second video of themselves stating: ‘I am a cis female lesbian, I support trans rights – trans women do not erase me. Keep the L with the T’ and to use the hashtags, #LwiththeT and #notadebate. The support and submissions from cis, female lesbians was overwhelming, showing the majority of ‘L’s’ wanting to stay with the T in solidarity, and it was quickly trending across Facebook and Twitter, making it clearly visible how the lesbian community was taking a stand for trans rights.
After a peaceful protest outside the Jury’s Inn in Brighton on July 16th, where a Woman’s Place UK meeting was being held to discuss the Gender Recognition Act and express their views about the problem of self identification and their strong beliefs that trans women are not real women and should not be given access to cis-female spaces, #LwiththeT was given the go-ahead by Brighton Pride to lead the parade on August 4th 2018, where over fifty people marched for #LwiththeT with home-made signs declaring support for the inclusion of trans rights within the LGBTQIA+ community. It was a peaceful and passionate march for solidarity, chanting “Trans women are real women, trans men are real men, non-binary is valid, trans rights are human rights”, with an overwhelming reaction of support from the thousands of spectators and attendees of Brighton Pride.
For the first time in Brighton Pride’s history there was a special community area within the main park event, in which there was a trans stage with a huge host of performers, including music and spoken word. This felt prolific in the fight for trans and non-binary representation and solidarity in such a turbulent and unsettling time, of which community response in reaction to these events is a powerful tool.