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Trans Activists Banned From Pride


‘Reports of trans activists being barred from Prides across the UK as Tories are disgruntled by the prospect of human rights’ would be a fitting but long title for this article.


Recent news of trans activists having been banned from Pride events this year is spreading, and we can’t help but find this unsurprising.

(The identities of these activists have been kept anonymous due to safety concerns)

Reports that Tories don’t feel welcome at Pride due to sign-holding queers has apparently led to the blacklisting of trans activists, due to their vocalisation of discontent with Tory anti-trans legislation.

Retaliation against trans voices in the UK has seemingly reached a peak this last week, in what we might assume as a Conservative march towards eliminating criticisms of their anti-trans policies. This does not come as a surprise, due to their refusal to include trans conversion therapy in their ‘conversion therapy ban’, alongside the illegalisation of protest activities and the years of trans healthcare-related neglect (the list could go on for pages).

One such trans activist, a performer who works with Prides across the UK, has been banned from working with one Pride due to protesting for trans rights at Pride in the past. "I'm being penalised for fighting for the trans community's place in society, and this is essentially a transphobic act by a majority cis white gay male committee," the activist said, pointing out that they have been banned from Pride because of how they engage with their queerness, and fight for equality. "I'm not palatable or 'clean' enough, so I've lost my opportunity to represent my community [...] apparently opposing the Conservative presence at Pride is enough to get you blacklisted, trans people are a worse PR image for them [Pride organisers] than the Tory presence."

When trans activists turn up to pride, they do not do so purely for enjoyment. It’s a well-known fact that the mere existence of a trans person can be itself a protest against cisnormative society, and this protest doesn’t ‘disappear’ once they turn up to a pride march. The trans existence is a protest because they are participating in a world that actively works against their right to thrive, and this unfortunately (but not surprisingly) extends to those non-heterosexual spaces that are historically transphobic.

Trans icon Sylvia Rivera, after having had arguments with the Gay Liberation Front about her right to speak at the NYC gay pride march in 1973, was allowed to attend the march but was refused access to the microphone, and was refused the space to speak about the marginalisation of transgender people. Regardless, upon the day of the march, Sylvia had snatched the microphone and stole the opportunity for a moment to speak for trans people – welcomed by a large crowd of angry jeering from the crowd of gay heteronormative protesters, who seemed happy to benefit from the hard work of trans activists who had taken a beating at the Stonewall Riots just 4 years before. As Laura Mulvey wrote: this instance “was symptomatic of the growing marginalisation of trans people in the gay liberation movement.” (Transgender Resistance, 103)

While this isn’t a direct parallel, we see the same issues arise. Trans people, especially those who wish to speak up, are often the target for Conservative ridicule. In 1973, Rivera was one of many targets for fears that trans people were taking away the opportunity for gay rights (despite the fact that trans people were often the ones that lived and died for these rights). In 2023, trans activists are a target in much the same way, for fears that trans activists are taking away the opportunities for other peoples’ rights: whether this be the rights of trans people who fit a gender binary. Trans people are used, as is so often said, as a ‘political football’ for the Right, and have been made very unwelcome at Prides in more ways than one.

It's also true that the Tories have never been welcome at Pride, most certainly not in an official capacity. Except the mere existence of a Tory is not itself a protest against normative society, they are the normative society that others are born into protest against. So when trans activists are banned from Prides due to their protest against one of the most normative parties in the UK, trans people are banned as a group – or at least, their rights to feel safe and accepted are. After all, how can a trans person feel at all safe in front of a political group that denies them rights? Let alone at a Pride, an event historically known for transphobia, that has banned those of us who have tried to make Pride a safer space for the rest.

Thanks to these activists, anyone unfortunate enough to encounter the Tory Party stalls at Pride had been put at ease knowing that there are at least some people who care about us. But according to these bans, no-one is allowed to care – at least, not enough to paint a sign and stand around all day. And they say Pride isn’t political.

And yet, we cannot forget that Pride was born out of protest - and in many areas, it still is. Therefore, we might point out that Pride has been co-opted by some local officials that would rather boot out those of us who are most marginalised than ban the very political parties that engage in our oppression in the first place.

Not to mention, these trans activist bans come at a time when trans people in the UK are having to fight off mounting scrutiny - the Tory rejection of Scotland's Gender Recognition Reform Bill is clearly not something up for debate for trans people. At a Pride, where we are supposed to feel the most welcome, we are told to 'shut up and stop being so dramatic'. To take hits to our rights without any kind of response - not even acknowledging that we were hit in the first place. Trans activists, holding up signs in peaceful protest, who acknowledge that trans rights have taken a hit and speak up about it, have been told that their peaceful behaviour is a threat to our very oppressors.

For the organisers of these Prides, we ask, why don't you acknowledge that the Tories are the ones who should be banned - not us?

What you can do:

Email your local Pride & complain about the Tories (a great space to rant)

Fart when you pass Tory stalls at your local Pride (don’t hold up signs, you will be banned apparently)

Attend trans pride & events ran by trans activists, it’s your space!


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