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Conor Clark for GAY TIMES

Hundreds protested outside the gates of Downing Street earlier this week in response to the anti-trans comments made by Rishi Sunak and his government during the Conservative Party Conference.

Those in attendance on 11 October carried placards with messages such as, “Don’t use me to justify your prejudice” and, “Stop bullying trans people” written on them.

During a speech, Sunak alleged that the British public are being “bullied” into having a belief that “people can be any sex they want to be.”

“A man is a man, and a woman is a woman,” the Prime Minister continued. “That’s just common sense.”

Jaxon Feeley, an LGBTQIA+ activist, told GAY TIMES he was motivated to organise the demonstration after “seeing the pain and the panic” in his family’s eyes over the rhetoric being perpetuated by Sunak.

“For me, this is the next step in me serving my country and continuing to do that because it’s what I do anyway, but if I can do it on a scale that actually makes people feel so much better, then that’s all I want to do,” he explained. “Just give someone that little bit of hope where they don’t give up because there are people that would have given up hearing his words – so I just don’t want people to give up anymore.”

In a passionate speech to the crowd, Feeley shared that he would have been happy if only 12 to 15 people had shown up and was overwhelmed to see hundreds in attendance.

Lady Jessica, a trans singer-songwriter who has been actively involved with the UK’s LGBTQIA+ scene for decades, was among those who addressed the crowd.

Speaking to GAY TIMES after her speech, they said: “We felt like we were moving forward, but unfortunately it feels like we’re moving backwards and, actually, I feel a bit more turbulence now than what I ever did in the ‘90s.

“Like I said in my speech a minute ago, I was actually attacked on a train on the way to a gig the other day and, in general when I’m out and about, I get a lot worse rhetoric…It just seems to be on the rise more so in the last year or so, for sure.”


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Another protester, Claire, added that she was motivated to attend because of feeling “fed up” by the government “ignoring our existence”.

“I’ve been protesting year after year and we need to just make sure that our trans youth know that we’re here for them,” she continued.

“We are not going to give up the fight and we want the government to talk to trans people – they don’t seem to be having any conversations and, we can protest all we like, but we need to have conversations and they need to respect our existence. So, that’s why I’m here today.”

Dozens of attendees addressed the crowd and explained their reasoning for showing up at the protest, including someone named Cassie: “My cousin, who was 17 and intersex, as well as trans, completed suicide in December and they wrote a letter and said that the reason why they couldn’t go on is because society didn’t accept them,” they said.

“When I see Rishi Sunak and these people in the government go up on TV and they say these things, like ‘a woman is a woman’ and ‘a man is a man’ – which is complete bull***t – they don’t realise what they’re doing and that it could affect people close to them that don’t feel able to come out yet.”

Conor Clark for GAY TIMES

Another detailed their experiences growing up against the backdrop of Section 28.

“We weren’t allowed to discuss or learn anything about being gay,” they told onlookers. “So, I grew up on that backdrop as a young gay kid, thinking and not really knowing anything about being gay.

“Then, of course, we came off the back of the HIV and AIDS era and, again, government adverts were absolutely abhorrent – they were f***ing awful and petrifying.

“So this isn’t our first time at the rodeo, that they’re using a minority within a minority, but be under no illusion that it will stop with trans people. This is why we need to come together and we need to support each other. He will come, they will come for every single minority group. We are just the start.

“But we are here and we need to show a united front, we need to show that we are not violent and we are not aggressive, we are actually just normal people who are trying our very best to live our lives.”