My first London Pride was a disaster.
Fairly new to the scene, I went to the 2011 event by myself. Hoping to be surrounded by friendly and accepting crowds, instead I was met with aggression and bullying at almost every turn. I would get comments about my appearance from groups of gay men, and one lesbian was so incensed by my presence she forced her way through a crowd to tell me to my face ‘You’re not a woman, and you never will be!’ before storming off.
Pride 2011 remains one of the few times I have experienced transphobia in public. So I was wary of attending this year in case the story was to repeat itself.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect. After all, most Pride events are advertised as being ‘gay pride’, ignoring anything about trans* identity. We see the pictures of gorgeous men in nothing but underwear, flamboyant drag queens and the occasional lesbian couple. Rarely is the trans* presence noticeable.
But actually being at Pride this year taught me a valuable lesson. Trans people aren’t silent. Far from it – we are just as loud and proud as everyone else.
It may seem like an obvious statement. Believe me, I almost feel silly writing it. But I had always maintained the impression that we were considerably overshadowed at Pride by the greater numbers of lesbians, gays and bisexuals.
To my surprise, trans* visibility was unlike anything I had witnessed before. From placards being given out to show solidarity with Lucy Meadows, the teacher who committed suicide after a string of invasive articles in the press, to our flag and emblem plastered everywhere appropriate, the voices of others made me feel more at home within the LGBT community than ever before.
The media may not pick up on us as often as our LGB brothers and sisters; let’s face it, when compared to hunks in Speedos and fabulous dresses, its clear where the camera will be drawn to. But to those there, our presence at the event is undeniable.
It’s important for us to recognise this because, for so many trans* people across the UK we feel we are without a voice – more so than the rest of the LGBT community. Even I have felt we have been consistently sidelined for the convenience of others.
The reality, however, was a huge wake up call for me. After saying last week that trans people needed more Pride events, which is certainly a statement I still hold, I’m convinced that when we use our voice, we shout as loud as the best of them.
Trans people of London; stay classy.