In an act of celebration and resistance, thousands took to the streets to call for equal rights for the trans+ community, better access to healthcare, and legal recognition of non-binary people
On Saturday (June 26), London saw its best-dressed march in history as thousands of trans+ people and allies took to the streets in honour of Pride month. Part celebration, part protest, those marching made their demands clear: equal rights for the trans+ community, better access to healthcare, and legal recognition for non-binary people.
“Pride will always be a protest,” 24-year-old Eddie tells Dazed, “and I felt the spirit of our trans+ ancestors this weekend.”
It’s unsurprising that politics dominated this year’s march, as it comes at a particularly urgent moment for trans rights in the UK. In September, equalities minister Liz Truss published the government’s long-awaited response to the 2018 consultation on the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), announcing that it would effectively be scrapping any proposed reforms. Instead of streamlining the process for trans+ people to self-identify (AKA making any meaningful amendments), last month, the government reduced the current £140 fee to £5.
With this in mind – as well as the Black Lives Matter movement and the right wing media and TERFs’ persistent anti-trans tirades – attendees carried signs that read, ‘Don’t Truss(t) Her’, ‘Protect Black trans lives’, and ‘The NHS waiting lists are killing my trans sisters’.
Video footage shared on social media shows a sea of people carrying blue, pink, and white flags, and chanting, “Trans rights are human rights” and, “What do we want? Trans rights! When do we want them? Now!”
The crowd marched from Wellington Arch to Soho Square, where a number of famous faces made rousing speeches. Drag Race UK’s Bimini Bon-Boulash and poets Kai-Isaiah Jamal and Kate Tempest all spoke, while Munroe Bergdorf expressed how “important, necessary, and beautiful” the march was.
As reported by PinkNews, the model and activist added: “This is not a moment. We are not a moment. This is our legacy. As different as we are as individuals, we are reflections of each other – inextricably linked and spiritually bonded by community. This is evidence of community. We are stronger together. We cannot let idiotic countermovements like LGB Alliance, TERFs, and gender-critical feminism tear us apart. No matter how isolated we have felt in our past, we are no longer silenced, we are no longer in the shadows, we are here. Take up this space. This space is yours!”
Speaking to Dazed, 25-year-old Sofia cites the importance of the LGBTQ+ community uniting together. “It was important for me to attend as a queer person to show support for the trans community, whose rights are being stripped away by the British government,” she says. “The LGBTQ+ community must stand together and show resistance against the oppressive politics and TERFism that aims only to divide us.”
Sofia adds that Saturday’s “atmosphere was vibrant”, and, thanks to there being “thousands of queer people on the streets of London, the mood was celebratory and infectious”.
Photographer Santiago Franco Schicke headed to the march to capture the joyous celebration for Dazed. In conversation with those in attendance, Schicke said “most people made remarks on how important trans healthcare is, and how dangerous waiting lists are”, while there were also “a lot of (calls to) ‘protect trans lives’ and ‘protect trans kids’.” “Overall, we all want to be considered and treated as priority, and have basic human rights covered.”
“Being a trans+ person and visibly gender non-conforming, the streets can feel very unsafe,” says Eddie. “It’s a feeling I have unfortunately become very accustomed to. Little things like crossing the road to avoid dangerous situations, shouts, stares, and (micro) agressions are so normal in my life that I don’t even really notice them anymore. So it was a humbling, beautiful experience to be surrounded by thousands of trans+ people, and to feel so seen and safe – each one of us protecting and validating the other, transferring the strength needed to be ourselves in a cis society where our very existance is up for debate.”
Schicke believes that this year’s march was even more pertinent thanks to the ongoing pandemic. “There was a sense of community and family that I missed a lot during this whole lockdown, and that you could feel that in the crowd,” they tell Dazed. “Lots of people mourning for their friends, and lots of people celebrating just being alive. It really was an amazing experience.”
See Schicke’s photos from Saturday’s march in the gallery above.