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Anti-trans protestors march in front of Manchester Pride parade, leaving trans women ‘worried about safety’

Ella Braidwood August 26, 2019

Protestors claiming "gender ideology harms lesbians" as they lead Manchester Pride. (WhovianKate/Twitter)

Anti-trans protestors ‘led’ the Manchester Pride parade after they hijacked the front of the march, leaving some trans women fearing for their safety.

The group of between 10 and 14 protestors – mostly lesbians – gatecrashed the front of the march on Saturday, August 24, carrying banners reading “lesbians don’t have penises” and “gender ideology harms lesbians”.

The protest was organised by anti-trans body GetTheLOut, the same group that hijacked the front of Pride in London’s parade in 2018.

Tara Hewitt, a trans woman and co-founder of Trans Equality Legal Initiative, told PinkNews that she was left concerned for her safety after she went to watch the Manchester Pride parade for the first time with her partner, who is also a transgender woman.

“We were both upset to see, just before the front of the main parade got to where we were standing, a small group of angry anti-trans extremists with banners opposing trans inclusion and calling for trans people to be removed from ‘LGBT’ – campaigning against our rights and handing out their literature,” she said.

“They were being allowed to lead the parade and being calmly escorted by both the police and [Manchester] Pride security along the road in front of the tens of thousands of people lining the streets for the parade.”

Hewitt said that she began booing at the protestors and questioned police after nobody said anything to challenge the protestors near where she and her partner were stood.

Trans women left feeling unsafe by protestors and anti-trans leaflets.

One of the leaflets handed out to revellers at Manchester Pride. (GetTheLOut)

The protestors also handed out leaflets claiming that “transactivism erases lesbians” and citing support from other anti-trans campaigns, including ReSistersUnited, whose regional groups have staged various publicity stunts in protest against the government’s proposed reforms of the Gender Recognition Act.

“Quite quickly the leaflets were shared online and that, on top of seeing how the police seemed to be helping them participate by leading them along the route, again made my partner and myself feeling really worried about our own safety in and around the city centre,” said Hewitt.

“Would we be confronted for nothing more than being two openly trans women in a relationship? Could we use a toilet if we needed without fear of abuse?”

Tara Hewitt (left) and her partner on the tram during Manchester Pride. (Tara Hewitt)

She said that her day, which she had wanted to be about “standing in solidarity” with the thousands lining the streets to say that “LGBTQ+ rights are human rights”, was “turned into one of anxiety and disappointment that yet again those in power had decide our safety was not something that should be prioritised”.

Hewitt added that she was in “in disbelief that what happened at London Pride in 2018 was repeating itself at Manchester Pride… One of our biggest and most well funded prides with one of UK’s biggest police forces”.

Following the anti-trans protest at Pride in London in 2018, a  group including  trans-inclusive lesbians led this year’s march carrying a banner that read”#LWithTheT” as a show of solidarity with the transgender community.

[It] made my partner and myself feel really worried about our own safety in and around the city centre.

Greater Manchester Police told PinkNews that no criminal offences were committed so no arrests were made.

A spokesperson added: “We respect any individual’s right to freedom of expression and their right to protest peacefully; and with that comes a degree of responsibility.

“During events of this nature the police, as well as the event organisers, will seek to engage with people protesting, in an effort to facilitate this in a peaceful manner. Where someone is found to be committing a criminal offence during a public demonstration they risk being prosecuted.”

Manchester Pride did not return PinkNews‘ request for comment.

Statement from GetTheLOut.

GetTheLOut ‘leading’ the front of Manchester Pride’s parade. (GetTheLOut)

An organiser from GetTheLOut, who does not want to be named, told PinkNews that, alongside lesbians, the group was made up of “lesbian-allies, detransitioners and cotton ceiling rape survivors, with the support and participation of ReSistersUnited, Object ! and MakeMoreNoise”.

She said that the group “marched together in the face of the constant hostility, violent anti-lesbianism and rape threat of the GBT movement, to raise awareness about the transitioning, the raping, the appropriation and the erasure of lesbians”.

The organiser continued: “The GBT movement, feminists and lesbian allies should be horrified about the exponential transitioning of lesbians and the enforcement of heterosexuality on us through grooming, rape and sexual violence.

“The lives of real lesbians are on the line and our issues are urgent and real.”

She added: “We will not be silenced and we will keep fighting for lesbian’s rights, visibility and liberation.”

Elsewhere at Manchester Pride, some revellers have complained after they were unable to get in to the festival, where last entry was at 7pm, to watch a 30-minute set by Ariana Grande.

More: GetTheLOut, Manchester Pride, Trans

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