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Photography Asafe Ghalib

Activists are protesting a group that wants to drop the T from LGBT

Trans solidarity groups are holding a demo against the new organisation LGB Alliance, calling it out as transphobic

Last week, a new organisation held its first meeting in London. Named “LGB Alliance”, it claims to aim to refocus rights onto an LGB movement, by decidedly dropping the “T”. 

“Our group focuses on sexual orientation. This has become necessary, because lesbians in particular, and recently gay men too, are suffering from the confusion between sex and gender,” said Bev Jackson, a spokesperson for the group, and an original co-founder of the Gay Liberation Front. “Lesbians and gay men are people who are attracted to others of the same sex. I fought for their rights to be respected fifty years ago and am sad that I need to defend those rights again today.”

Jackson claims that trans people are welcome at LGB Alliance, which is great news – if it is true. But how likely it is that trans people would want to join a group that specifically seems to exclude them from their messaging remains to be seen. 

By virtue of its existence, the LGB Alliance suggests that you can’t support LGB rights and T rights at the same time, that LGB and T people have no need to stand together, and that the gay rights and trans rights movements are not historically interlocked. 

As the journalist and trans campaigner Shon Faye points out on Twitter, the LGB and T have always stood together: “There’s rarely been revolutionary gay politics without trans people and most trans people are queer/seen as such. There was never a time the T got ‘added on’.”

Since the Stonewall Riots in 1969, when trans women of colour led an LGBTQ+ backlash against police persecution in New York, and maybe even beyond, lesbian, gay, bi and trans people have stood in solidarity with one another. The reasons for this are clear; “non-normative” sexualities and gender expression have historically been similarly punished, and social movements stand stronger together. Plus of course, many LGB people are genderqueer, and many trans people identify their sexual orientation as LGB as well as T (Munroe BergdorfSOPHIE and Gigi Gorgeous to name just a few examples). 

On top of this, support for trans rights is more needed than ever. Just last week, a new report conducted by anti-bullying organisation Ditch the Label and digital intelligence company Brandwatch was released, revealing that over 1.5 million transphobic posts were found online over the three and a half year period in the UK and US. 

Perhaps all of this is why the LGB Alliance has received extreme backlash across social media since its announcement, and why the organisation has been labelled transphobic and a “hate group” by the very people it claims to stand for: lesbians, gays and bisexuals. The hashtag “#myLGBTfamily” has been started in opposition to the group’s formation.  

Lois Shearing is the director for the Bi Survivors Network and one of the organisers of a trans solidarity group called BWithTheT. Along with LWithTheT, BWithTheT is organising a solidarity demo for LGB people to come along and express their support of trans rights next weekend, on Saturday November 2, at Soho Square in London. 

Shearing explains that when its members saw that LGB Alliance were forming, like a lot of people, BWithTheT just “knew they wanted to rally together and get our voices heard”. 

Shearing explains: “Everyday in the UK it feels like we're facing a new threat to LGBTQIA+ liberty, particularly trans rights and liberties, from people claiming to be progressive and pro-gay. It's especially exhausting to see people using the bi community as a cudgel against trans people. But beyond that, trans rights are human rights and trans people are facing an incredible threat right now – as a community, we have to rally around our siblings.”

When asked why to create a counter-message, Shearing says “it’s the right thing to do”. In a climate of transphobia in Britain, it’s important to stand up for trans people’s rights, access to healthcare, and basic safety. “Everyone deserves those things,” says Shearing, adding that, while it’s important to support trans people because of how much they have done for LGB rights, we must remember that trans rights must be protected because all human rights must be protected. “How much the cis queer community owes the trans community is a secondary reason,” Shearing says.

Rumours around the formation of LGB Alliance have circulated for a while, including some that claimed it is a splinter organisation of LGBTQ+ rights charity Stonewall, since some of its members are former Stonewall employees. However. Stonewall have denied this, explaining that their current staff support trans rights.  

“TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) are trying to create a narrative of some kind of mass split or exodus within the LGBTQ+ community, when in fact they are a minority group, using ‘concerned’ straight women from Mumsnet to boost their numbers,” says Shearing. “Our goal is to bring together members of all the different shades of the queer rainbow in a show of solidarity, strength, unity, and love.”

So, what can we expect at the demonstration next weekend? Trans speakers will take to the stage, letting the community know how to better support trans rights, there will be fundraising collections for trans organisations, and organisers say please bring your chanting voice. The chant? “Please know your history, black trans women fought for me.”