Two hundred and fifty people marched through Bristol yesterday (November 20) to mark Trans Day of Remembrance.
A demo and march, under the theme “unsafe to be me,” aimed to highlight the violence and abuse trans people face, as well as ongoing discrimination in the media and healthcare.
March organiser Kaz Self, of Trans Pride South West (TPSW), said that the protest was against anti-trans hate and bigotry, and was intended ‘to show that there is a trans community that is visible and to show that we exist and that we want our rights to be upheld in this country.’
Gathering from 10.30 on College Green, protesters heard speeches from members of the LGBTQIA community, including Carla Denyer, Green councillor for Clifton Down and Co-leader of the Green Party.
Denyer said: ‘In the UK, the number of reported transphobic hate crimes has quadrupled in the last five years,’ such that 40% of trans people have experienced a hate crime. ‘That is not OK.’
‘Transphobia has no place in a fair society. This Trans Awareness Week we say loud and clear: trans rights are human rights.’
Since 1999, Trans Day of Remembrance has been held on November 20 to memorialize those who have died or been killed as a result of transphobia. At 11am, a two minute’s silence was observed by protesters.
The march left College Green at 11.35 and progressed loudly through the Centre, along Baldwin Street and through Castle Park into Broadmead, ending outside Primark.
Two key issues for protesters were access to healthcare for trans people, and representation of trans people within the BBC.
Ros Taylor joined the march with her partner. Reflecting on her own experience of accessing healthcare she said: ‘wait times have been just so long that it’s just obscene. I myself was waiting over five years for an appointment.’
‘We can’t bear the idea of there being more kids out there like we were who are still having to struggle for no reason more than just bigotry and lack of knowledge.’
Bristol’s nearest NHS gender clinic, The Laurels in Exeter, has a waiting list of almost 3,000 and is facing legal action over delays in treatment.
Protesters were angry at the BBC for what they consider to be a transphobic bias by the broadcaster.
Speaking from College Green, Kaz said: ‘From Woman’s Hour to Newsnight…to leaving the Stonewall Diversity Champions Scheme, the BBC leadership is following the agenda set by the right-wing establishment.’
Earlier this year, TPSW protested outside BBC headquarters on Whiteladies Road against an article published on the BBC website that was widely seen as transphobic for its portrayal of trans women.
Yesterday was the second time TPSW have marched in Bristol. The first in 2019 attracted 90 attendees. The 250 who turned out for yesterday’s march suggests that protests against trans hate are gaining support and are benefiting from increased awareness and organising.
Kaz said: ‘‘I think the reason why we’re getting the increased support is because it’s not just trans that are being attacked now, but we’re seeing the attacks on charities like Stonewall.’
‘People are beginning to realise that the trans community are just the thin end of the wedge’
The march came at the end of a week of events marking Trans Awareness Week. On Friday, the Bristol Lord Mayor raised a trans pride flag on College Green alongside members of TPSW.