Under this government, every day existing a trans person is a trans rights protest, a protest that we will live our lives, be our true selves, and never give up despite their attacks on us writes Owen Hurcum
This is a powerful protest, and yet we may, on some days such as yesterday – amplify this protest (quite literally with a PA system outside Downing Street). To show the rage and power we have as a community as we demand justice. But I hasten to add, nothing is more powerful a protest than our trans joy.
Rage, Power and Protest. No bad thing to have, but as I sit down to write this – with the news that only 73 MP’s of 650 could be bothered to show their support for trans people in opposition to the Tories’ anti-democratic, anti-devolution and primarily and fundamentally anti-trans Section 35 still recent in my thoughts – the impromptu protest I attended is not what I would choose to spend this article focusing on.
Just got to the grass opposite Downig Street on Whitehall/Parliament Street.
It's still a but cold so if you are coming wrap up warm and I'll see you shortly! 🏳️⚧️✊️
— Owen J Hurcum 🏴🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈🟠🌤 (@OwenJHurcum) January 17, 2023
Rather the trans joy we found as attendees, despite the circumstances that necessitated our protest. Yesterday a group of us headed to Downing Street, unable to attend the Trans Rights Protest happening today, also at Downing Street, at 5pm (which you should all attend if you can).
We formed an impromptu open mic trans rights protest where everyone present was able to say what we felt of this latest attack on trans people in the UK and the non-response from the so-called opposition. We made our voices loudly and audibly heard as speakers highlighted the absurdity of a UK Government willing to cause a constitutional crisis to attack just 0.5% of the population.
We spoke of solidarity with the other marginalised communities that this UK government have a vested interest in dehumanising, targeting and othering so they can distract from their own failings. We shouted to all who would listen about the need for the Tories to stamp down on this slightest of progress in Scotland for trans people, all so they could avoid any challenge to the moral panic they have been focused on and fundamental in creating.
Serenading the Tories outside Queen Elizabeth House in Edinburgh. The attack on the #GRRBill is not just an attack on trans & non binary folk, but an attack on other democratic rights too: Refugees, travelling people, the right to strike and protest.#TransRightsAreHumanRights pic.twitter.com/0pDB1QnS1p
— Graham Checkley (@GrahamCheckley) January 17, 2023
We are witnessing the final thrashes of a dying government as they lash out at any minority they think they can vilify to secure the chances of their own re-election. We chanted, sang songs and even had the chance to tell a Tory Cabinet Minister to “F*** Off”. It was cathartic, I won’t lie. We made sure that our voices would not be overlooked. Our anger listened to, and our demands aired.
All of that is important, all that is worthwhile, and I truly feel all that will make a difference. Yet as many of us left the event together, having decided to go to a queer venue to relax following the trans rights protest, something of equal importance took place.
A day like yesterday can feel hard and deflating to be trans right now. A day where the UK parliament spend the order of business debating if we have a right to exist, if we are all perverts and vote on if we should have even the most basic of human decencies. Even when you are doing what you can on your day off work to shout at those in power – it can be easy to slip into thoughts and feelings of hopelessness and despair. It is a cycle I know all too well.
But at this queer pub, my fellow trans rights protest attendees and I had, despite everything going on, despite the deep anger inside of all of us that had driven us to go to this event, the chance to just be. As a TV tuned to BBC Parliament played in the corner, with the vile and bigoted ‘debate’ on our rights being broadcast none of us gave it a second thought. We were all too busy just being a group of people down the pub having a chat.
I got to talk about board games, a major passion of mine, with someone equally as enthusiastic about the carboard and wood hobby. Others discussed the latest TV shows they had been watching, what they liked to eat/drink as a little treat for themselves when they have the chance. We spoke of the themes of solidarity in the film Pride! (Which happened to be a well-loved film of many there). We discussed places we liked to visit, what jobs we did, what we were studying or had studied. We joked and laughed, and we had joy.
In that pub, under a spread of rainbow flags and the dull light of an ignored TV we left the problems of a hate filled, bigoted world behind us and we just were. For that time there was no Section 35, there was no fascist sliding UK Government, there were no TERFs, there was just us living out and proud and queer and trans. We protested, in our own joyful way, a protest of equal importance to the one we had attended hours earlier.
Was in a room in Glasgow Southside yesterday with 9 other trans women all sharing stories and food and joy, and then we went for drinks afterwards and played games and it was a beautiful evening. We build this for ourselves.
Westminster can't take that away from us.
— Elaine Scattermoon (@scattermoon) January 16, 2023
For me that is what I will take most from the day. That is of course not to downplay the importance and need for public, loud and organised protests, marches and rallies. As I mentioned earlier in the article, there is one at Downing Street today at 5pm that I highly encourage everyone who can attend, to attend. I know of more happening in Edinburgh and there is nothing to stop anyone else holding their own impromptu demonstration where they live.
Regardless of what this Tory Government and their Labour lackies do to us, or even to the right to protest – just as it is our right to be ourselves it will always our right to protest, and we will do that visibly and publicly. What we will also do, what we also must do, is find that trans joy and celebrate it.
This article was going to be about a trans rights protest, but now it has been about trans joy instead… mostly.