Pride London reveal more details about trans toilet incident

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners

The organisers of Pride London have issued a statement about an incident during the celebrations in Trafalgar Square last Saturday.

After a trans woman was denied access to the public female toilets, an argument broke out and a steward was barged and pushed up against a wall.

Trans people have complained that they were discriminated against by stewards. Roz Kearney wrote on her blog:

“Official stewards who were running the toilets at Trafalgar Square announced that I, and any other transgender or transsexual woman, had to use the disabled toilets and was not allowed to use the regular women’s toilets.

“I pointed out to the stewards that I transitioned and had surgery before they were born; I was more polite than a polite thing. No dice.

“It was one of the most wretched experiences I have had in thirty years, only made positive by the love and solidarity of my community.”

Today Pride London issued the following statement:

“Regrettably for all the organisations involved in the management of this event, an incident occurred which caused great offence to members of the trans community.

“The incident took place in the public toilets within Trafalgar Square where a trans woman was denied access to the female toilets.

“As a result a number of trans community members decided to stage a demonstration within the entry area to the toilets, an argument ensued, and the steward at the toilets was barged and pushed up against a wall, and inappropriate language was used.

“An off-duty police officer, a LGBT liaison officer, who was in the area at the time, intervened at this stage.

“One of the officer’s primary concerns being that some of the trans community members, having previously participated in the parade, still had their placards with them and during the growing arguments, he felt that these could inadvertently cause injury through escalating tensions and heated exchanges.

“The officer took action to reduce those immediate tensions and ascertained facts from both the steward and the trans woman involved.

“The officer’s actions included attaining an apology for the trans woman, an offer to act as her witness should she wish to take the matter further, and he also provided his name and details should she wish to contact him further.

“The officer then left believing that all actions he had taken were of satisfactory outcome.

“The Metropolitan police also reviewed the CCTV footage outside the public toilets.

“Neither party wished to make a formal complaint at the time against the other party.

“It is deeply regretted that trans community members were denied access to these facilities.

“It is the firm view of both organisations (the police and Pride London) that the trans woman involved should never have been denied access to the women’s toilets, and members of the trans community should have been able to attend this event and feel supported by diverse communities who they are close to.

“The MPS and Pride London recognise the depth of hurt, and frustration felt by the trans community around this incident, and both organisations took immediate action to ascertain what had occurred.”

Pride organisers held a meeting on Wednesday with the Gay Police Association, trans community representatives and Steve Allen, the borough commander for the City of Westminster.

“The meeting provided opportunity for respective findings to be shared and to discuss proposals for a united approach that would support the regaining of trust by our trans communities and further reflect our continued desire for transphobic incidents of this nature being prevented from happening again.”

Commander Allen said today he was disappointed by the incident because it did not help the “fragile relationship between transgender people and the police.”

He said he was clear about what happened and who played what part.

“The motivation and actions of the police officer involved were positive and he has my full support,” he said.

“We expect extraordinary things from our officers and I am pleased that although off duty, he regarded it as his duty to become involved where he saw a situation developing.

“The events of the day are being addressed by the various organisations involved.

“Clearly inappropriate decisions were made and inappropriate words said. Those specifics are being or have already been addressed.

“The issue at the heart of events over the last few days is much wider.

“That issue is about the nature and quality of relationships and engagement between police and transgender people.

“There is no doubt that we are at the early stages of the journey.

“The aim must be to get to a point where the relationship is sufficiently robust that it can survive the setbacks that will inevitably occur.

“The vision is getting to a position where policing services are delivered to victims, witnesses, suspects and every other member of our communities in a way that is fair, just, professional, compassionate and respectful of the particular needs of individuals.

“For members of our communities, this must be the case because that is what you have a right to expect. For the MPS this must be the case because we can only succeed if we have the trust and the confidence of the people we work for.”

The police estimate that more than 825,000 people participated in Pride London this year, making it the largest gay event ever staged in the UK.

Commander Allen said:

“Last Saturday it was my privilege to take part in the Pride march at the head of the police officers and staff representing the Metropolitan Police Service.

“We were alongside colleagues from other emergency services, from the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.

“I am proud that the MPS is the uniformed service with the longest history of participation in this event since I believe it is a sign of the progress over some time now that my organisation has been making.”

This story was updated on 16th Sept 2008.