London trans rights protest condemns ‘absolute shambles’ of Tory government: ‘This cannot go on’

Trans rights protest outside Downing Street.

A protest in London saw trans teens and elders standing alongside each other demanding justice, liberation, and the sacking of Tory equalities minister Liz Truss.

Hundreds of trans and non-binary people and their allies went to the trans rights protest outside Downing Street in London on Friday (6 August).

Attendees listened to almost three hours of speeches from activists, authors, poets, politicians and artists, which addressed both the material hardships facing British trans people today and what the government and community can do to tackle them.

The aims of the London trans rights protest, as set out by the organisers ahead of the event, included full reform of the Gender Recognition Act, legal recognition for non-binary people, the sacking of Tory equalities minister Liz Truss, a total overhaul of the failed trans healthcare system, protection for intersex people under the Equality Act and guaranteed access to free and timely healthcare for young trans people.

Protesters also demanded that any government ban on so-called conversion therapy include trans conversion therapy and that the government commit to ensuring trans people continue to be able to access the appropriate single-sex spaces.

Themes among the speakers included the “failures” of the Government Equalities Office (GEO) to protect and empower marginalised communities including trans people, people of colour, disabled people and women; exhaustion and anger at the treatment of trans people by the national media; and frustration at the regular attacks on trans people and trans rights by politicians from across the political spectrum.

Young people ‘p**sed off’ at ‘absolute shambles’ of the Tory government

Among the hundreds of people at the trans rights protest were trans elders, public figures – and many young people on their school summer holidays.

Among the speakers was one 14-year-old trans girl, Kate Gee, who spoke movingly about her experiences at school.

There were lots of young people at the protest, trans and cis. Two cis teenagers said they were “there to support” while a group of five young LGBT+ people – two of whom had come alone – told PinkNews they were “angry” at the “shameful” way that trans and non-binary people are treated by the government.

“I’m here because I’m p**sed off about the way that trans people are being treated,” said trans teen Arty. “I’m done. I’m angry about it. I want rights.”

“I was raised to be transphobic, homophobic, and sexist, because my family are all of those things,” said O. “When I was 14 I went, ‘f**k this’, and decided to do whatever I can to be the person that the future needs really. And so I do as much as I can.”

“For years my family has been heavily involved in politics,” shared one of a group of three teenagers who had come to the protest together.

“They’re very big advocates of protests. For six years now I’ve ID’d as trans in some form, and just seeing the state of healthcare and the absolute shambles of the Tory government it felt like a good place to come to to protest that.”

Five young people who met at the protest told PinkNews they were there because they were ‘angry’ and ‘pissed off’ at the Tory government. (Vic Parsons)

Trans rights protest heard from pioneering Gay Liberation Front member

Roz Kaveney, who read a poem onstage at the London trans rights protest, has been involved in trans organising for more than 50 years.

She told PinkNews that she had seen “so many great young activists doing us proud” at the protest. She joined the Gay Liberation Front in the autumn of 1971, a few months after London’s first Pride demo was held in Highbury Fields. Roz described how LGBT+ activism has changed over the past five decades.

“There are times when it slacks off, there are times when it becomes commercial and there are times when it gets angry again,” Roz said. “Right now, it feels righteously angry.”

She continued: “The utter inadequacy of trans healthcare over the past decade is shocking. This government’s policy of austerity since David Cameron took office 11 years ago has had an awful impact on minorities.

“It’s a disgrace, and it’s right that we’re out here protesting about it. The fact that there is now no [lower] surgery for trans men, and the waiting lists [for gender clinics] are now murderously long… people, good strong people, are killing themselves due to the length of time they’re being made to wait for appointments.”

Trans rights protest in London.

Trans author and activist Fox Fisher addressing the crowd. (Vic Parsons)

After several hours, the sun left and rain began to fall. Organiser Felix Fern was the last to speak, sharing his own story of two decades of struggling to access healthcare – once being denied hormones by a gender clinic “because I’m disabled”.

After telling the story of a trans friend who died by suicide, he told the crowd “I protest because I have to” and said simply: “This cannot go on.”