More than 2,000 LGBT people sign letter calling for change at Pride in London over anti-trans protest

The anti-trans group disrupting Pride in London's 2018 parade

More than 2,000 LGBT+ people and allies, including a number of prominent trans women, have signed a letter chastising Pride in London over the transphobic protest on Saturday – and demanding a change in the board.

The open letter, published on Friday, condemned the “horrific exclusionary behaviour” at the Pride event in the capital, when a group of transphobic lesbians protestors hijacked the front of the march and were able to lead much of the parade.

The letter was organised by Aimee Challenor, a trans woman and equalities spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales.

“There is no space in Pride for transphobia, trans people pose no threat to cis women, and face frequent abuse and exclusion,” it reads.

“Trans people are integral to our LGBTQ+ Community and must be celebrated and protected. We do not believe the excuse used by Pride in London who claim that allowing transphobes to lead the parade was done in the name of safety.”

Pride in London was widely criticised by the LGBT+ community over the incident, with Stonewall’s CEO Ruth Hunt saying organisers had “a duty to act and protect trans people.”

But, in an interview with PinkNews, Pride in London co-chair Alison Camps insisted that the protestors could not be removed by police, saying they were peacefully protesting within the law, and that organisers “took the uncomfortable decision” of sending the group ahead because of safety concerns.

The open letter continues: “Trans people should be able to celebrate Pride safely, the actions of Pride in London compromised this safety.

“We call for a full apology from Pride in London, as well as a change in the Board behind Pride in London, in the hopes that future events do not have similar issues.”

Aimee Challenor organised the open letter to Pride in London.

The letter is signed by more than 2,000 members and allies of the LGBT+ community, including leading trans women campaigners.

These include Sarah Brown, a member of Stonewall’s Trans Advisory Group, and Natacha Kennedy, deputy chair of Camden & Islington LGBT Forum.

It’s also signed by Owl, a non-binary trans activist and filmmaker, who wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian, rebuking the anti-trans campaigners. 

Speaking to PinkNews, Challenor said: “Saturday’s transphobic protest was a horrifically exclusionary display of discrimination and Pride in London really should have known better.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to the open letter to know that so many members and friends of the community all around the world have our back when standing against hate is wonderful.

Parade goers during Pride In London 2018 (Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Pride In London)

“It’s a shame that Pride in London took three responses to actually mention the trans community and have since focused on the effect the response has had on them rather than the hurt it has caused the trans community.

“Last year I wrote for PinkNews saying that Pride in London had lost their roots as a Pride it appears that is sadly still the case.”

Brown told PinkNews that she “watched Saturday’s events on the verge of tears.”

However, she added: “The outpouring of support from the lesbian community for trans people since has shown that this so-called protest was a huge own goal.

“I think Pride in London still have serious questions to answer about what happened.”

Responding to the open letter,  Alison Camps and Michael Salter-Church, co-chairs of Pride in London, said: “We are looking into what happened at Pride this year in great detail. What is clear is that no criminal offence was committed.

“Alongside our apology on Sunday we have been working with our trans allies both behind the scenes and publicly at our pop up on Wednesday to look at how we can stamp out this kind of behaviour at Pride. 

“It is disappointing to see that our volunteers have been personally targeted on social media since Saturday. We must instead focus our collective attention and efforts on tackling the bigoted views of those who share the beliefs of the protesters and undermine the trans community, without whom the Pride movement wouldn’t exist.

“As an organisation we continue to work with TransPALS, Gendered Intelligence and FTM alongside activists such as Hannah and Jake Graf, who featured prominently in Pride this year, to ensure we stand by our trans siblings. 

“As others have said, Saturday’s events have galvanised a very important conversation. We actively welcome volunteers from the signatories of this letter who can help us to take practical steps to ensure there is #NoPrideinTransphobia and that we push for the #LwiththeT.”