The hashtag #LWithTheT began trending after controversial events at Pride in London.
Cisgender lesbian women have been posting messages of solidarity with the trans community on social media after Pride in London was disrupted by anti-trans activists.
Around 10 members of the anti-trans campaign group Get the L Out forced their way to the front of the Pride in London parade on Saturday (7 July). The group, which describes itself as being made up of “lesbian and feminist individuals and organisations”, opposes what it sees as “the increasingly anti-lesbian and misogynistic LBGT movement and the erasure of lesbians”.
At the march on Saturday, members of Get the L Out carried banners and flyers claiming that “transactivism erases lesbians” and denouncing the trans movement as “anti-lesbianism”, according to The Independent. The protesters were permitted to lead the parade until it reached Trafalgar Square, and later stood on a rainbow flag and lay down in front of the march.
Get the L Out members believe that LGBT+ organisations and publications should not be allowed to use the letter ‘L’ if they are not working or reporting on issues directly related to lesbians. The group developed this stance after unsuccessfully petitioning for organisations to drop the letter ‘T’ in conversations about LGBT+ rights.
In a statement posted on their website two days before Pride in London, the group said: “We believe that lesbian rights are under attack by the trans movement and we encourage lesbians everywhere to leave the LGBT and form their own independent movement”.
The group also calls on cisgender lesbian women to “to be vocal and take action against the proposed changes to the GRA [Gender Recognition Act 2004].” Women and equalities minister Penny Mordaunt recently launched a public consultation into the GRA and said she hopes to make it easier for transgender people to legally register their new identities, something Get the L Out opposes.
In response to Get the L Out’s protest at Pride on Saturday, hundreds of cisgender lesbian women have now taken to Twitter to reject their message and show solidarity with the trans community, using the hashtag #LWithTheT.
Cis female lesbians are standing with our trans family. Make your own version of this video and use the hashtags #LWithTheT and #NotADebate 🌈✨ “I’m a cis female lesbian and I support trans rights. Trans women do not erase me. Keep the L with the T” pic.twitter.com/HGrKtgXVeB— Lottie 🌈 (@Lottie_Lamour) July 7, 2018
One woman cited the story of Marsha P Johnson, a transgender woman who was pivotal in creating the first Pride parade in New York, to highlight that trans people cannot and should not be excluded from the LGBT+ rights movement.
Several trans women sent messages of thanks in response to the #LWithTheT hashtag.
I mean the only upshot of this has been the wonderful, vocal support from the many cis lesbian woman who are sick of having words put in their mouths. I so so so appreciate your support ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️— Juno Dawson (@junodawson) July 8, 2018
Police and security did not intervene to stop the Get the L Out protesters leading the parade on Saturday, which was supposed to be led by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and NHS staff. Initially, a Pride in London spokesperson responded to questions about why the group had been permitted to lead the march by citing a recent survey showing that 24% of LGBT+ people view Pride as a protest.
“We are pleased that the parade set off as planned and that hundreds of thousands of Londoners are demonstrating that Pride still matters,” the spokesperson said.
A later statement from Pride in London claimed the Get the L Out protesters had been moved to the front of the parade because of “the hot weather” and in interests of safety.
But in a statement released on Sunday (9 July), the event organisers said they were sorry that the group – which was not registered to take part in the march – had been allowed to walk at the front.
In this later explanation, Pride in London said the Get the L Out protesters had been sent to walk at the front in an attempt to distance them from the official parade. The women had originally demanded to walk behind the rainbow flag with other registered groups, the organisers said, a request that was denied as Pride in London “did not want to legitimise them or their message”.
Pride in London said it did not have the right to remove the protesters from the parade as their demonstration was not illegal. However, it unequivocally denounced the group’s message.
“Their behaviour was shocking and disgusting, and we condemn it completely,” read the statement.
“The protest group showed a level of bigotry, ignorance and hate that is unacceptable. We reject what this group stands for. They do not share our values, which are about inclusion and respect and support for the most marginalised parts of our community.”
At a time when trans people’s right to exist is still seen as a debatable issue, it’s encouraging to see so many cisgender women standing up for their trans sisters. As Juno Dawson recently wrote in an essay for stylist.co.uk: “These transphobic voices are saying, ‘this is how all women feel,’ so if you don’t feel like that, it’s important to speak out, and speak up. Don’t let prejudiced voices speak for you.”
Main image: Getty Images