London Trans+ Pride addresses ‘punch TERFs’ speech backlash: ‘We do not condone violence’
London Trans+ Pride has issued a statement after a speaker at its event, Sarah Jane Baker, called for TERFs to be punched in the face.
A speech by Baker was picked up by the right-wing press, after she told the London Trans+ Pride crowd: “I was gonna come here and be really fluffy and really nice, lovely and queer and gay…nah, if you see a TERF, punch them in the f**king face.”
TERF stands for trans exclusionary radical feminist, a subsection of feminism which is critical of transgender identities and seeks to exclude trans and non-binary people from the women’s movement. The acronym has become a catch-all term for anyone who holds so-called gender critical views, even if they do not subscribe to feminism.
The speech quickly went viral on social media and was condemned by a number of key gender-critical figures, with some calling for the police to investigate the statement as a possible incitement of violence towards women.
On Monday (10 July), London Trans+ Pride issued a statement on Instagram condemning calls for violence while offering some context as to why Baker used the inflammatory words.
The post included an email from Telegraph journalist Alex Barton requesting comment, along with London Trans+ Pride’s response.
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The group initially thanked Barton for reporting on the protest before criticising the Telegraph’s decision to ignore “all the videos inciting joy, care, compassion, love, peace, community and allyship” and focus on the one incident involving Barker.
“We are not denying this was said and happened on our stage, but it is a telling sign of your publication and your positioning towards trans+ lives and trans+ rights to pick this specific moment out of all the speeches that were shared,” the post read.
“Your publication is known in our community, and between our allies, for having incited continuous hate against transgender and gender-non-conforming folk in the way it portrays us, our lives and what we (peacefully) march for each year.
“The choice to reference and/or centre in your reporting on this specific moment shows whose interests you are catering to.
“Would you like to condemn your readers who actively spread hate and incite violence on trans folk, as is apparent in many comments in responses to your articles online?”
The group went on to say that the “hatred, culture wars and hugely distorted reporting on trans+ lives and our struggles in the UK media [are a] seeding ground [for] violence, harassment and wider oppression” to be enacted against the trans community.
“Not being heard, listened to, or [being] actively undermined, is not only deeply frustrating, disheartening and fear inducing, it is also why people like Sarah and many others in our community hold a lot of rage and anger,” they explained.
“We do not condone violence. We do not back a call to arms for violence of any kind. We do condone righteous anger. We have and will continue to march in peace.”
The Pride event, which saw thousands of trans people and allies descend on central London, took place on Saturday (8 July).
Attendees draped in trans flags and carrying politically charged placards marched from Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park Corner before a number of people, including performance artist Travis Alabanza, model Munroe Bergdorf and representatives from Transgender Action Block, addressed the crowd.
Following the official speakers, members of the crowd were also offered the chance to share their views, which was when Baker got up to speak.
At the event, a number of famous faces, well-known groups and key activists were spotted marching alongside the crowds.
Members of ground-breaking grassroots football team, TRUK, carried a large flag bearing the team’s emblem, while representatives from Labour for Trans Rights, LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, trans advocacy organisation TransActual and London-wide charity Single Homeless Project, and author and co-chairperson of the Feminist Gender Equality Network, Dr Natacha Kennedy, were also in the crowd.
In addition, veteran activist Peter Tatchell was photographed holding a placard which called for self-ID for trans people.
Speaking to PinkNews, he said: “In this toxic anti-trans atmosphere, it’s important that we stand in solidarity with the trans community. There can be no LGB without the T.
“United we are stronger, we stand together with our trans friends.”
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