Last Saturday, thousands took to the streets of central London to celebrate Trans+ Pride. It was a joyous moment, with a parade marching from the Wellington Arch to finally gather in Soho Square.
Addressing the celebratory crowds, activist and model Munroe Bergdorf said: “No matter how isolated we have felt in our past, we are no longer silenced, we are no longer in the shadows, we are here. Take up this space. This space is yours!”
It was especially meaningful as the trans community in the UK are currenlty going through a particularly difficult time. A two-year political argument over a proposed update to 2004’s Gender Recognition Act, which intended to make it easier for people to legally change their identity, has been in the news a lot.
Research by the trans charity Mermaids, found that there were more than three and a half times the amount of articles written about trans people 2019 compared to 2012, and that the coverage was increasingly negative.
Some feminist groups have gained high-profile attention by seeking to exclude trans women too. During London’s Pride celebrations in 2018, anti-trans activists even disrupted the parade.
However, in the past few years, as debates within feminism have gained more attention in the media, plenty of activists and thinkers have underlined that feminism, a struggle for equality, is only truly liberatory if it is inclusive and intersectional.
There are plenty of feminist-orientated organisations and cultural spaces out there are that reject the views of those seeking to exclude trans people, are welcoming of trans and non-binary people, and fight gender inequality across all fronts. Here are some you can look out for.
Sisters Uncut are a direct action activist group with chapters all over the UK. They were founded in 2014 to fight against cuts to domestic violence services and call on the government to ring-fence funds to protect women from gender-based violence.
They have recently been leading a campaign against the government’s proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that seeks to place restrictions on protests.
Other actions they have taken include taking over an empty council home in east London in the summer of 2016 to highlight the lack of space being made available for women fleeing abuse, and they turned it into a community centre. They also protested cuts to domestic violence services on the red carpet at the London premiere of the film ‘Suffragette’, lying down with signs saying “dead women can’t vote.”
As a collective, Sisters Uncut is welcoming of cis women, trans women, non-binary people, and intersex people, and say they fight against “interconnecting and mutually reinforcing systems of oppression”, including transphobia.
So far they’ve got ITV2 to ban adverts for diet pills and plastic surgery while showing the reality show “Love Island” which has been criticised for affecting viewers’ body image. They also successfully campaigned for UK press regulators to issue guidelines about reporting on domestic violence more sensitively.
They are trans-inclusive and stood up for trans rights in the UK’s consultation on the Gender Recognition Act, which was exploring ways to make it easier for trans people to legally change their gender identity. They also campaigned for consent and LGBTQ+ experiences to be included in the UK’s sex and relationships curriculum in schools.
The Feminist Library
The Feminist Library is a large collection of women’s history research and literature based in London.
Set up in 1975 the library is entirely volunteer-run and serves as a community space holding exhibitions and events highlighting feminist works, as well as holding book clubs and workshops. It also contains an archive of feminist activist resources and campaign information going back decades.
The collective that runs the library says it has “evolved through different periods in the history and political landscape of feminism.” In 2021 they released a statement underlining that they are a trans-inclusive collective that stands in solidarity with trans people.
“We wish to reiterate as members of the collective that we believe that feminism is a political project that works in service of all of us,” the group wrote.
Grrrl Zine Fair
Grrrl Zine Fair is small team focused on the art of self-publishing zines that give space to modern political and cultural debates beyond the mainstream.
Set up by artist Lu Williams in 2015, they hold live events and practical workshops that celebrate contemporary feminism all over the country. Their published zines and events showcase the work of women, non-binary, and transgender artists and writers. Supported by donations they also keep a collection of over 500 zines in the feminist zine library.
Williams said in an interview in 2019 that the name is inspired by the 1990’s Riot Grrrl movement.
They added: “I cannot express how much, especially those of us who work in the arts, need to think about how we can include others and not act as gatekeepers.
“I don’t mean to sound flippant but it’s important to not forget about communities that are outside of the echo chamber.”
Launched in 2015, this ground-breaking media company sought to address the overwhelmingly white and male world of journalism by putting the stories of women of colour front and centre, with a policy of including all marginalised genders in their publishing output and events. People can support their work by subscribing.
Gal Dem has regularly covered issues affecting trans women in the UK, including a year-long investigation published in February about an increasing pattern of exclusion trans women have experienced when trying to access support from domestic violence shelters. Amid a lack of trans voices in the British press, Gal Dem has regularly published trans writers too and taken aim at bigger media outlets.
Girl Gang Manchester
With groups in Manchester, Sheffield, and Leeds, the almost entirely volunteer run Girl Gang collective run club nights, events, skill-sharing workshops, and even “speed-mating” sessions, aimed at women and nonbinary people looking to make friends.
Their projects, which also include art exhibitions and talks, often explore issues facing women today — from body image to racism, and they are open to all. They say: “Our strength lies in collaboration, skill sharing and generating new ideas.
“We aim to be an open and fluid collective of people of all genders, ages, races, sexualities and backgrounds.”