March 31st 2018 will go down in history for me. Today I hit the streets of Leeds alongside two hundred other trans and or non-binary people and allies for the first ever Trans Pride Leeds march. We all stood, in the wind and rain, outside Leeds Art Gallery; people held flags and placards and umbrellas and huddled together. I felt the same naive and fearful excitement which I remember from my first ever LGBT+ pride in Leeds five years ago. I talked to everyone and discovered that trans &/ non-binary people have the coolest, most customised denim jackets out of any group of human beings. I met people who run support groups and provide safe spaces for trans &/ non-binary people, volunteers from a multitude of charities and some amazing people who are living their truth fearlessly every single day.
Let me backtrack for a moment. Before the march I had been fearful of many things: what if nobody shows up? what if people yell at us? what if there’s violence or I feel unsafe? what if it makes me feel worse about myself? what if I feel excluded? what if people think I’m not really trans/nb? For a moment I wondered if I should leave my house to go the march at all. I thought about all the people who had dealt with my ‘worst case scenarios’ for so many years in order for myself and other trans &/ nb people to have the freedom which we have today. For me, Trans Day of Visibility is as much about remembering those who have died or suffered for our rights as it is about being proud of who we are today. Remembering these people gave me the courage to go and march for our rights as trans &/ non-binary people.
This march really stood out to me in comparison to every pride event I’ve been to before. I’m used to rainbows, and signs, I’m familiar with the buzz of crowds and the sound of distant chants. I’m also used to feeling like a small person in a big space, still slightly unsure about who I can put my trust in. This was different. People spoke to each other and introduced themselves with pronouns. People gathered with non-binary flags draped around them, holding banners which said ‘trans women are women’; other people had patches on their jackets which gave details of their pronouns of gender identity. A few allies stood back from the crowd, with supportive placards and banners; a church group held a sign stating ‘you are fearfully and wonderfully made’, over a background of lgbtqiap+ flags.
The march was loud and significant; it was fearless and bold. When we received confused or negative glances from cis crowds we chanted louder and more fearlessly. We stared them in the eye, smiling as we raised our placards a little higher. While it seems a bit cliche, as we all shouted chants in unison, I finally felt proud. I felt the solidarity which had been missing for me at previous pride events. For the whole march, there was not a moment of silence: we were undeniably visible and it was wonderful.
After the march I went to a dry social with a new friend who I met at the march (hi Ed, if you happen to read this!). We drank white tea in a warm room among a ton of other people from the event. I kept thinking: this is the most free I’ve ever been.
Trans Day of Visibilty 2018 can be summed up for me in three words: pride, solidarity, freedom.
What did you do on Trans Day of Visibility 2018? Perhaps you are in a situation or place where it’s not possible to be visibly trans, if so please feel free to share your experiences here. If you happened to be at the Leeds Trans Pride March let me know how you found the experience!- AB