Hundreds of people marched through Manchester city center on Thursday night in a transphobia protest.
The protest, organized by members of the Manchester Trans Rise Up group, was arranged to coincide with a conference being held by Woman’s Place UK, a feminist group focused on women’s sex-based rights and protections in the UK. They allege some of the viewpoints shared by Woman’s Place UK are ‘transphobic’ due to its campaigning for ‘single-sex’ spaces.
In a statement to the Manchester Evening News, Woman’s Place UK denied they were ‘transphobic’. They also said they welcomed those with opposing views to attend their events and ‘debate with us directly’.
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But on Thursday evening (March 24), protesters met outside St Peter’s Square for a demonstration before marching through the city. Protesters chanted outside the Mechanics Conference Center in the Gay Village, where the Woman’s Place UK conference was being held.
Catie and Jack were amongst those at the protest. Catie said: “We are protesting today against transphobia, which is something that is not welcome in Manchester. This is our home and it has an amazing LGBTQ+ community and that belief doesn’t represent the rest of us.
“We believe Woman’s Place UK is trying to make women-only spaces that exclude the existence of trans women. We feel that it’s important to stand up against that.”
One protester, who asked not to be named, said: “There are people who are campaigning against the legal protections for trans people which will make it so that trans people can’t be legally hate crimed against, which is f**** * up
“Trans people are disproportionate as it is – they are often victims of domestic abuse and other forms of assault and abuse. They are trying to make it more difficult for trans people.
“It’s really scary to be a trans person right now. There are groups trying to attack and take away people’s rights. Trans people live here and deserve autonomy and love and that’s all we’re asking for, really.”
Another protester said: “It is important that Manchester stands up against transphobia. We need to show that there are more on our side than not.”
A number of banners and placards supporting trans rights were on display throughout the march, with signs like ‘Black trans lives matter’ and ‘amongst a sea of trans flags.
One speaker, who stood up to address the crowd, said: “Our lives and communities are in disregard. Why are people so insistent on demanding autonomy over our bodies?”
Another said: “People have tried to push a narrative that trans women are predators and allowing trans woman into women’s spaces will result in a higher risk of assault or violence, which is just b*******.”
A Woman’s Place UK spokesperson said: “We are a grassroots women’s campaign. Accusations of transphobia are entirely unjustified and are often used as a tactic to shut down discussion which many women have valid concerns about – the retention of our right under the Equality Act 2010 to single sex spaces, services and sports.
“Our last meeting in Manchester was held in 2018, where Kristina Harrison, who is trans, spoke from the platform alongside Ruth Serwotka and Bea Campbell. Our events are public and we welcome people with opposing views to attend, listen to our concerns and debate with us directly.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.