“You can’t separate our history”

WORDS BY MEGAN EVANS. LEAD IMAGE LOIS SHEARING

Over 150 people gathered in Soho Square, London, on Saturday 2 November for the LGBWithTheT solidarity demonstration. The people there had come together to show their support for trans people and to exclaim that the LGBTQI community has always, and will always, be stronger together.

As you’ve probably heard, a new group – they, who will not be named – have been spreading transphobia, whilst bizarrely claiming to “stand up” for all LGB people. This, coming at a time when Home Office figures show that transphobic abuse tops the board of all hate crimes this year, rising 37% from last year.

Demonstrators gather at Soho Square despite the rain. Image Megan Evans

Thankfully, the solidarity demonstration this weekend helped to show that this hateful voice is very much in the minority.

Bi Survivors Network, BWithTheT, London Bi Pandas, LWithTheT, Biscuit, Sister Not Cister UK and other LGBTQI groups attracted over 150 people to show their support despite the cold conditions and miserable rain – and they raised more than £100 for CliniQ in the process.

Amongst the many trans, bi and non-binary flags (to name just a few), trans supporters gathered to chant, protest and listen to inspiring speakers, explaining the importance of all queer individuals standing together as one.

The speakers went on to share both historical facts – and harrowing statistics: While trans people played a significant part in the Stonewall riots movement and so fought for the very rights we enjoy as lez/bi folks in the UK today, 41% of transgender people will attempt suicide at least once in their lives – and transphobic abuse surely plays its part in that.

Lois Shearing speaking at the demonstration on Saturday in central London. Image Megan Evans

Lois Shearing, founder and director of Bi Survivors Network and one of the main organisers of BWithTheT, commented: “We’re here to show that we will not be drowned out by small hateful groups, who try and use LGB and cis identities as a cajole against us.

“We are here now to make a commitment to queer and trans solidarity.”

Lois went onto argue that issues around gender and sexuality overlap so much that they cannot exist without each other: “What I’ve learnt is trying to draw circles around all the different identities in the umbrella is actually impossible. You can’t separate our history.

“The LGBT civil rights movement hasn’t been around that long, if we let ourselves be divided, it’d be quite easy for us to lose the progress we’ve all made together.” 

Speaker Hannah Rose holds a placard reading “Too cute to be cis”. Image by Lois Shearing

Hannah Rose, an Iraqi trans woman of colour and queer activist, gave an empowering speech and stated she’d never met a trans person who hadn’t struggled with transphobia or depression at least once in their lifetime:

“I don’t want to hear of another trans person killing themselves simply because society couldn’t deal with them existing. We exist and we will fight for our right to exist!”

“I hope transphobic groups will soon be a thing of the past, like how we view the slave trade or the witch hunt. I want to live in a world where we don’t demonise trans people. We shouldn’t be treated like monsters!”

A demonstrator holds a placard reading “Gender? I hardly know her”. Image Megan Evans

The message from the LGBWithTheT solidarity demonstration was clear: the T should never be silenced. 

We were a family from the beginning, why divide our family now? We condemn those who tear families and communities apart, and so it would be an act of hypocrisy to isolate our trans siblings.

The Bi Survivors Network, BWithTheT, each of the other LGBTQI organisations, and the 150+ extremely cold but dedicated demonstrators, did a fantastic job of highlighting the importance of sticking together as a community – now more than ever.

By Megan Evans, @Meg_SEvans. LGBT journalist & PR and Comms Officer for Bi Pride UK. #LGBWithTheT

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