Heartstopper’s Yasmin Finney joins thousands protesting Tories’ brutal anti-trans attacks

Yasmin Finney spoke at London Trans+ Pride and a placard reading: 'Gender? I don't know her'

Yasmin Finney was among more than a thousand frustrated yet joyful LGBTQ+ people protesting against the Tory government’s increasing attacks against trans people.

For London Trans+ Pride on Saturday (9 July), protesters marched from the historic Wellington Arch by Hyde Park down to Soho Square in the heart of the capital’s queer district.

Demonstrators triumphantly held up high signs reading “Trans Lives are Sacred”, “Take Down the Cis-Tem” and “Gender? I barely know her!”. Others chanted “LGB with the T” in an emphatic reminder that the LGBTQ+ stands united against bigotry.

It was a damning show of the pent-up rage the LGBTQ+ community has felt for years under the Conservative government, which has scrapped vital gender recognition law reforms and excluded trans people from a conversion therapy ban.

And with the future of LGBTQ+ rights hanging in the balance as the Tories choose the next party leader following Boris Johnson’s resignation, the community urged politicians to leave attacks against trans people in the past.

Finney, a trans actor who plays student Elle Argent in Heartstopper, told Pride-goers in Soho Square that the government is trying to “eradicate” trans people.

“We’re all here and we’re just duplicating,” she said. “Look at how many of us there are. Like, hello? Boris! Bye!”

She added: “So, Boris, I hope you see Heartstopper, I hope you see Doctor Who, because I exist. And I know you know I exist. We all exist – and we’re not going anywhere. Period”

Charlie Craggs, a trans author, wore all-black when she spoke from the stage. “You’re probably like, why are you in a funeral outfit? Today guys, we are here to celebrate the end of the life – well, political life – of Boris Johnson,” she said.

“When it came to thinking what I want to say about this man who has been consistently transphobic, homophobic, all the phobics, er, it was really hard to summarise it in a few words but I think I found two words to sum it up and those two words are: ha, ha.”

Other London Trans+ Pride speakers, who included non-binary poet Kae Tempest, also blasted Johnson’s government for taking aim at trans people.

Nadia Whittome, Labour MP for Nottingham East, told the crowd: “I know no matter what the right-wing media or what this government throws at you, you will keep fighting,” she said.

While intersex activist Valentino Vecchietti, who designed the intersex-inclusive Progress flag, said: “We all sit together on this flag and it celebrates our natural diversity. It celebrates all of us.”

“We all need support and equality because we experience the same oppression globally,” they said, adding that trans and intersex people must be included in the conversion therapy ban.

Many who braved Saturday’s high temperatures had plenty of reasons to be there.

In a ranking of the most LGBTQ-friendly nations in Europe by ILGA-Europe, Britain plummeted by four places to 14th. The advocacy group pointed to the growing anti-trans movement as among the reasons why.

The Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights organisation, denounced Britain’s “virulent attacks” against trans people in January.

Ministers have increasingly treated trans people as punching bags, whether it comes to the healthcare they can access, the sports they can play or whether their documents should reflect who they truly are.

A flashpoint came when the government moved to leave out trans people altogether from a long-sought ban on conversion therapy. Despite trans folk being more than twice as likely to have been offered or undergone practice according to the government’s own research, ministers said legislating a trans-inclusive ban was “too complex“.

The press, meanwhile, continues to hound and dehumanise trans people on an almost daily basis.

But Craggs had a simple message for those at London Trans+ Pride.

“I’m so tired of being f***ing sad,” she said, “being happy is the biggest finger up to these people, they don’t want you to be happy – they don’t even want you to be alive.

“So being happy and alive is the biggest f**k you to these people. So go home after this Pride and be f***ing happy – you deserve it.”