Binaries are for computers

Terry Conway, Rowan Fortune and Inbar Tamari report from Trans Pride 2021.


Trans Pride London 2021

If you were not there, or keyed into the relevant online spheres, Trans Pride London 2021 could have passed you by. This is itself a travesty. The nearly hegemonically transphobic media in the UK displayed a typical cowardice by meeting Trans Pride with next to total silence. (The Independent being a notable exception).

Trans Pride 2021

If a quarter the number of transphobes had marched through London, it seems likely most every paper would openly celebrate that spectacle of reaction. But trans people are heard nonetheless, they are sharing photos, sharing this success with everyone they can and they will make themselves impossible to silence.

Trans and nonbinary people showed that they are not alone. Thousands upon thousands attended this celebration, protest and testament to trans humanity. The composition of the protest was younger and more racially diverse than is typical on left demos, and equally the trade union presence there weaker (with the NEU proving a stalwart exception).  

And this was only the first of such events after a horrifying period suffering alone and atomised in lockdown, one that has been shown to have disproportionately and negatively impacted trans lives.

The struggles of trans liberation were frequently rooted in other struggles. In the struggle against racism, against homophobia, against misogyny. Intersex representation at the event was notable and welcome. This is a movement that intuitively understands the connections between oppression and exploitation, a young and diverse movement that wishes to change the world.

Just as perceptive, the participants in Trans Pride displayed an ability to identify the agents of oppression. The establishment as a whole, especially as embodied in the Tory Party. But also the deeply illiberal ‘liberal’ establishment such as the Guardian and the Royal Academy were highlighted by some for their transphobia. The Guardian has published almost as many anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ articles during Pride as there are days in the month. They have covered themselves in shame.

There was little hint of assimilationist rhetoric or political compromise on the march. There was an implicit understanding from the slogans and radicalism that when you make your humanity accommodate to those who hate you, it only firms up their hate while distorting yourself in the process. Emancipatory movements get nothing more than they demand, so they must demand full liberation now.

Any section of the left still not standing enthusiastically with the trans liberation movement is reactionary. This has been powerfully stated by German comrades in an open letter to the British left, urging us to unite wholeheartedly with the trans struggle. The A*CR has done so, and will continue to do so!

Rowan writes: As a nonbinary person I have never felt so optimistic about trans, nonbinary and intersex liberation. Our enemies depend on dreary establishment hit pieces, online troll bots and outright lies. We stake our case on our own humanity, and we will win. I have attended many demos and few felt like Trans Pride London. There was no space granted to the status quo in the slogans and demands; trans liberation was related to other struggles as part of an inseparable fight against oppression everywhere. This is just the start!

Inbar says: I had a great day. Marching with my union banner alongside other NEU members as well as my daughter and a wide range of young people.

NEU banners at Trans Pride 2021

Terry adds: I had enjoyed myself. I loved the placards against the binary (and the whole damn cis-stem) that constrains us all and those from Trans allies – e.g. Trans people fought for my rights, Queer solidarity, L with the T.  I was less comfortable with slogans like Protect Trans Kids – I preferred the chant Blockers save lives – and would have replaced the former with Empower Trans kids.

As someone who attended my first Gay (sic) Pride in 1977, I thoroughly enjoyed the festive atmosphere of this event. We were not only protesting but celebrating the diverse identities that make up the Trans+ community. It reminded me of those early days of protest and community before we were taken over by banks and cops.

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Rowan Fortune is an editor and revolutionary socialist. On their weekly blog, they write on utopian literature and imagination, why grimdark is the dystopian fiction of our time and more. They wrote Writing Nowhere: A Beginner's Guide to Utopia; edited the anthology of utopian short fiction Citizens of Nowhere; and contributed to the multi-authored System Crash: An activist guide to making revolution.

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