Stonewall was a riot

November 6, 2008

Stonewall Awards protest, November 20089.30pm Thursday: Home from the Stonewall protest, this is very quick and sketchy; I’m sure that Sarah will write the definitive report, she’s a good writer and was at the front so probably saw way more than me…

So Sarah was there, obviously, also the_local_echo, Zoe Imogen, Natacha, Roz Kaveney, Michael Tgo, Col Cruise (the Trans Film Fest organizer) and loads of folks I recognized but couldn’t name – think I saw Denise A… Some Trans Youth Network people from London and a couple from Manchester… oh, a few faces from the FAF workshop… and I can’t leave out my friend Youngsook, postgrad student extraordinaire…

Zoe early on reckoned we were at least 90 in number so there’s an excellent chance we hit the 100 mark at least – think I heard someone say we were probably the largest protest by trans people in Britain ever, yay history in the making…

JB Fan Club (according to Zoe) numbered 12. Yes, twelve. And they left as soon as JB had gone inside. She was there early and walked straight past, whoosh gone – so I’m told, I didn’t see her.

And as far as I know, no sign of the rumoured third protest (anti-gay religious right)

But a good natured crowd, it was interesting to see our diversity… Saw loads of anti-Stonewall posters and no JB posters… Much noisy chanting but no violence (well duh) so the maybe 15 or so police officers were quite underemployed.

A few independent photographers but none from any recognized press or radio/television… The woman from AbsolutQueer says her photos will be up on her site later for use by the trans community – she said she wanted to record it separately in case any other less representative images turn up… I hope there are better pics than my blurry dark cellphone ones… Think Zoe took millions so watch out for those too.



Previous, related posts on this blog:


ETA, Friday morning 7 November: I’m hurriedly trying to catch up on stuff from last night, so this is a bit of a stream-of-consciousness interim post (another one!) between First Coffee and work… I’ll try and update later on…

There’s no mention of the protest that I could see in this morning’s Metro (free paper), and Google has only turned up this Pink News piece… Seems like Ms Bindel didn’t even win, after all that. (Miriam Stoppard, for the record).

So where does that leave the trans community? Ms Pessimistic here, I know, but as far as I can see, we’re in much the same place we were before, really. I’m not saying the protest was worthless, far from it – we needed the Stonewall people to see a lively, protesting trans presence to drive home the point, and we did that, no question – but otherwise?…

Can I start thinking in terms of First and Second Wave trans women? Not sure where trans men are in this for all the usual historical reasons, but it seems that trans women are split into two factions one of which is, effectively, the trans establishment – or would like to see themselves as such – eg daft quotes from people along the lines of “I thought I spoke for all trans people” – well duh! actually, no, you don’t – we speak for ourselves and join together for the big stuff. It’s called diversity, I think you’ll find. And equality. It includes, like, acceptance of each other for who we are, not who an unrepresentative minority would like us to be.

The other strand is, I think – well, at least, for me – very well outlined in the essay Where did we go wrong? Feminism and trans theory – two teams on the same side (written by a younger and, arguably, less complacent Stephen Whittle, several years ago). It’s primarily about how trans people and feminists can find areas to agree on and it’s become really important to me. He says some really good things, principles that could be easily applied in the Stonewall context, particularly when you remember that Ms Bindel identifies as a feminist. (Also Julia Serano’s Rethinking Sexism: How Trans Women Challenge Feminism is well worth re-reading. As is Cedar’s excellent essay, Beyond Inclusion: Trans Women as Equal Partners in Feminism)

The difference in attitudes between what Stephen Whittle, Julia Serano and Cedar say, and the Christine Burns incident really sums up these two very different viewpoints within the trans community.

Are we (trans people) having this discussion online anywhere? If so, please can somebody link me? (Later edit: see this post by Sophia Siedlberg on the OII website). And if not – is it because I’m miles off course and just talking rubbish? Likewise – if so, please can somebody tell me? ;)


Anyway, I’m heartened by Zoe’s comment below – she reckons over 150 of us were there last night, which is really great to know, in ways that go far beyond the protest itself – I’m thinking of the networking that went on, the friends that were made – this is community building as it should be, and it can only benefit us all by helping to bring us together.

I forget who said (online somewhere) that one of the defining characteristics of the trans community is that it’s very decentralized – we don’t really hang out together in clubs and bars, etc, like, for example, the sterotype of the gay community… Now I’m going to go one further and say that another defining feature is the way we use electronic comms like the internet/blogs/email, etc, to organize, if that’s not too pretentious.


Egomaniac’s corner – I was also amazed how many people knew this blog. Not especially me particularly (which is fine) but I got a number of supportive remarks on the lines of “Oh! You’re Bird Of Paradox? Oh wow!” – I genuinely had no idea; I figured that it was pretty much just a few random people stopped by. Nice to be remembered for something I enjoy doing!


Oh and sorry for my ignorance but I’ve only just found out that the JB Fan Club = London Feminist Network. I also know that LFN are closely linked to the Reclaim The Night march; and any organization’s proclamations of being women only brings out my cautious side these days, especially when they’re silent on the subject of whether of not they include trans women in their definition.

So-o-o-o… is it unreasonable, then, to assume that, an organization like LFN – which advertises on its website a protest to support a writer of many transphobic pieces – is also likely to be in agreement with the substance of Ms Bindel’s views about trans people? And if LFN does agree with Ms Bindel’s remarks, then how is LFN any different from Stonewall, apart from in the degree of support offered? Stonewall wanted to honour Ms Bindel with an award for her hate speech, LFN asked its members to show support for Ms Bindel. But if LFN disagrees with Ms Bindel’s transphobic writings, then one can only wonder why they ran the advert. I’d love to know how that all works, but I’m not holding my breath for an answer.

I dunno, maybe I misunderstood, but I thought that feminism was about ending the oppression of women, all women, not perpetuating it. Oh wait! I forgot! Trans women aren’t real women, are we? Nope, we’re just men in dresses. How silly of me to forget that. I’m such an uppity tranny, aren’t I, not knowing my place an’ all.

…*le sigh*…

Second ETA, Friday morning 7 November: Roz has posted some photos here

Third ETA, Friday evening 7 November: Additional report at Pink News. Seems like we had quite a bit of support from some of the attendees.

onequeerone’s Stonewall protest photos

YouTube vid – footage by Zoe, edited by the_local_echo (and also at her LJ).


6 Responses to “Stonewall was a riot”

  1. 150+ people… largest trans rights demo ever in the UK, as far as we know.

  2. Elly Says:

    That looks pretty a cool demonstration, congratulations to the organizers and participants :o

  3. Helen G Says:

    Zoe: Thanks for the update, it’s much appreciated. It was great to be there; hopefully we’ve at least got through to Stonewall. Of course, whether they actually do anything to try and repair the damage they’ve done to the already fragile relationship with the trans community remains to be seen…

    Elly: Hello! And thanks for stopping by! Yes indeed, full marks to the organizers, as far as I know it all went smoothly, very good-natured at the same time as making a serious point, no violence, no fighting, I have only positive things to say.

    As for Stonewall, though – well, whether they choose now to try and engage or continue to be seen to support those who use transphobic hate speech, well, that’s up to them to decide.

    But I know that I, for one, will watch with interest any further words/actions from them.

  4. Katie Says:

    I was at the front of the demo and can happily say I’m sure Julie Bindel’s Fanclub didn’t actually gather more than 10 at any point before they got bored and went home.

  5. […] Sarah Brown posts about the Stonewall demo. So does Zoe O’Connell. So does Roz Kaveney. So does Helen G. […]

  6. […] Bird of Paradox attended the protest outside the Stonewall awards and covers the event in her blog. […]

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