Trans Pride 2021: I Was Overjoyed and I Was Proud

Politics Editor and non-binary LGBTQIA+ community organiser Prishita Maheshwari-Aplin shares their experience of London Trans Pride 2021 and speaks with attendees.

PHOTOGRAPHY El Hogg

As the sea of brightly coloured hair, mesh tops, and witty placards marched from Wellington Arch, Hyde Park to Soho Square Gardens – past the pedestrians (some gawking, some cheering), the gay bars where many have had their first queer kiss, and the Fiorucci shop-front laced with the faces of countless queer legends, photographed by Denis Robinson – I was overwhelmed with pure queer joy. At a time when the mainstream UK media is over-saturated with transphobic rhetoric and the Home Office continues to deport LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers to hostile environments behind their rainbow-coloured façade – and after a year when LGBTQIA+ individuals have faced disproportionate hardship and housing instability – to be surrounded by those who inhabit a space outside of society’s boundaries was more than beautiful. It was healing.

Having attended the very first London Trans Pride in 2019 – organised by Lucia Blyke, Emily Crooked, and the trans-collective Transmissions – which was a true grassroots movement, it was clear just how much the community has grown and come into our power since. As we walked in our hundreds through the streets of London – stepping in the footprints of our queer and trans elders – we shouted, “What do we want? Trans rights. When do we want them? Now!” and “No Justice, No Peace!” My throat was sore, the soles of my feet throbbing, and my cheeks bore the dull ache of a permanent smile. But I was free. Even with the knowledge that this march was a protest, even after sobbing to the words of Jo Alloway, who honoured the life and work of trans activist and artist Sophie Williams – a dear collaborator who founded the We Exist healthcare fund and helped hundreds of trans people – I was overjoyed and I was proud.

To be surrounded by those who inhabit a space outside of society’s boundaries was more than beautiful. It was healing.

London Trans Pride founder Lucia Blayke speaks at Soho Square Gardens.

I was proud of the community that we have – the community that we have built through our literal blood, sweat, and tears. We’re brilliant. We’re resilient, we’re powerful, we’re creative. And we’re sexy as all hell. There is so much still for us to fight for. Trans people deserve affirming healthcare, safe and accessible housing, and a life free from hate and discrimination. But I looked around me on Saturday 26 June 2021, and I knew that we would, ultimately, win. For our purpose is rooted in love. Our community marches for a world where we can be completely ourselves, and one where others can do the same. When our existence is infinitely expansive, how can it be contained by those who are driven by fear?

With peace in my heart and a spring in my step, I asked some of my friends, chosen family, and wider community two questions: Why are you here today at Trans Pride? and What is something that you’d like the world to know about the joys of being trans?

CJ (they/them)

Why are you here today at Trans Pride?

Because I’m trans. And it’s very exciting to see other people for the first time in a while! I didn’t think that I could make it because I’m actually eight months pregnant right now. I thought that I would be hiding out because of it, but to be around other trans people [makes me think], “this is great. I can do that!”

What is something that you’d like the world to know about the joys of being trans?

Oh man, there’s nothing I’m prouder of than being trans. Honestly. I grew up in a really conservative place, and when I realised that I was trans, I was like, “okay, this is just something I’m gonna have to deal with.” But I didn’t realise it would be the thing that brings me the most joy. Sometimes, I’m just hanging with my friends or at an event like this and I think, I fucking love being trans. I love being queer!

Bimini Bon Boulash (they/them)

Why are you here today at Trans Pride?

I’m here today to support the march for the rights of trans people. I am a non-binary person myself, but we all need to come together as a community. No matter where you fall within the LGBTQ+ acronym – wherever you are – you need to come here and support.

What is something that you’d like the world to know about the joys of being trans and non-binary?

I think you need to realise that colonialism is an issue [when it comes to] gender politics. Around the world, there were many different cultures that were very inclusive of people that were gender non-conforming. And we’ve got to the point where we need to be having conversations to support [these] people, rather than demonising and dehumanising them, which is the current trend in the media.

Gartruche (they/them) and Loops (they/them)

Why are you here today at Trans Pride?

Gartruche: We’re here to protest and to demand that non-binary is a legally recognised gender. It’s really important for people to be able to be actually legally non binary, so that if people are incarcerated or if people are sent to court, they can represent themselves in the gender that they want to be.

What is something that you’d like the world to know about the joys of being non-binary?

Loops: You can play with gender so much outside of this binary system and binary confines. You understand new things [about yourself] – and it’s so playful, joyful and exciting. I think everyone’s differences are what make the world beautiful.

Radam Ridwan (they/them)

Why are you here today at Trans Pride?

Because trans people deserve to be celebrated, to be told they’re fucking awesome, beautiful amazing, talented, and we deserve to take over the fucking world. So, cis people can get the fuck out.

What is something that you’d like the world to know about the joys of being non-binary?

There are so many rules imposed on people growing up and in life. So to be able to just say that the rule of gender is not something that applies to me, and to be able to express myself in the ways that I want to, is something that I hope to share with everyone in the world.

Aries Moross (they/them)

Why are you here today at Trans Pride?

I’m here to see and spend as much time with other trans people as possible.

What is something that you’d like the world to know about the joys of being trans and non-binary?

The world’s the problem, not the trans people.

Cash (he/they) and Chelsea (they/them)

Why are you here today at Trans Pride?

Cash: We’re here to celebrate trans liberation. As you’re seeing everywhere, trans rights are human rights and trans people don’t get enough protection, don’t get enough care. We don’t get the love that we deserve. We don’t get the recognition that we deserve. And we’re here today to celebrate ourselves; to show up in these numbers to show that we deserve a place and we deserve to be seen and to be respected and loved.

What is something that you’d like the world to know about the joys of being trans and non-binary?

Cash: It’s freedom – it’s freedom of expression, freedom of self. You don’t exist within the binary; you don’t exist within the lines or in any box. You are just you, and everyone should have the opportunity to exist as themselves. 

Chelsea: And that we don’t owe anyone androgyny. We don’t owe anybody anything. I think just existing as non-binary people or trans people in this world is hard enough. Just leave us alone, basically!

Jason Kwan (he/him)

Why are you here today at Trans Pride?

I’m here to celebrate myself and to celebrate my community who I’ve missed for so long. And to remind everyone that we need trans rights and we need them now.

What is something that you’d like the world to know about the joys of being trans and non-binary?

That the trans umbrella is diverse; it’s huge. There are so many different types of beauty that exist within it, and I want us to experience all of the joy [that it brings].

Zoe (they/she) and Izzy (they/them)

Why are you here today at Trans Pride?

To fight for trans and intersex rights, and to celebrate trans and intersex people!

What is something that you’d like the world to know about the joys of being trans and intersex?

Izzy: You get to live as who you are, and just be sexy!

Zoe: Just let everyone live the way they want to; it’s really not that hard. It’s the bare minimum.

Tajah (they/them)

Why are you here today at Trans Pride?

I’m a non-binary person, and there’s no way I wouldn’t be, to be honest.

What is something that you’d like the world to know about the joys of being non-binary?

It just feels like there are no limitations to anything. You can dress how you want, talk how you want – it doesn’t matter. There are so many ways of being non-binary. It’s just limitless.

Ted Lavis Coward (they/them)

Why are you here today at Trans Pride?

I think it’s more important than ever to reclaim our narrative, and to show people what we’re actually fighting for. So that’s healthcare and a life free of violence, hate, and discrimination. 

What is something that you’d like the world to know about the joys of being non-binary?

Anything goes – we refuse to accept what’s assigned to us. It just opens up a world full of possibilities!

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Prishita Maheshwari-Aplin
Prishita Maheshwari-Aplin

Our Politics Editor, Prishita Maheshwari-Aplin (they/she) is an LGBTIQA+ community organiser and Trustee with the direct action group, Voices4 London, and on the Advisory Board for the social enterprise, Split Banana, who are helping redesign and deliver inclusive relationship and sex-ed.

Prishita’s words have been published in METAL, gal-dem, and Dazed, amongst others. They also recently featured in ‘Soul of a Movement’, a new documentary by British creative directors Carson McColl and Gareth Pugh that documents some of the British LGBTIQ+ activists, artists and allies carrying the revolutionary fire of the Stonewall Uprising today.

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