TransLondon, the largest trans org in London, voted a week ago to boycott Pride in that city. Apparently, the pride organization thought this would be a good way to have a trans float in the parade:
The 2009 pride participation is, so we are told, to consist of a float at the very back of the parade which would pander to the most tired and inaccurate media stereotypes of trans people. Trans women would, in Pride's vision, be dressed in sequins, high heels and fairy wings and, apparently as an afterthought, a few trans men would be invited to pose in football strips. The Pride representative explained that the trans float would complement a float at the front of the march with members of the cast of the West End musical, "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert". In her vision, onlookers would be delighted to see "Priscilla at the front and Priscilla at the back". As a coup de grace, a visible cordon of security stewards would surround the trans float, ostensibly "for our own protection".
They also say that the process was undemocratic:
During the meeting on May 19th 2009, members heard how the democratic and transparent structure used in 2008 to co-ordinate participation of trans groups and the funds made available for transgender attendees, through the elected Trans@Pride committee, has been abolished by Pride London for 2009. Instead, Pride London have imposed their own unelected "representative" for the trans strand. Furthermore, requests for information about funding, how decisions were made and who participated in the decision-making process, have been rebuffed.
Last year, the elected Trans@Pride Committee consulted repeatedly with over a dozen groups and hundreds of individuals over before arranging travel bursaries for trans people to attend from around the country, hosting a breakfast for marchers on the day, commissioning artwork from a local queer artist as a rallying point for trans marchers, producing banners and bunting, arranging trans performers for all of the Pride stages including the main stage in Trafalgar Square and publicising the arrangements widely. In stark contrast, the meeting heard of how Pride London's appointed trans "representative" for 2009 has simply imposed Pride's vision for trans participation in the march and rally.
I think that speaks for itself. The chair of Pride London responded:
A lot of this is misdirected. Christina [Alley, co-organiser of TransLondon and elected member of Trans@Pride 2008] is unhappy about the direction of this year's Pride in terms of funding.[...]
Regarding the objection to the float, the idea for it came from the trans community. What Christina said is a grotesque parody of what the float actually is. It's diminishing the hard work put in by the trans community.
Since I haven't seen the float, I don't know whose description is closer. But since 65% of people at the TransLondon meeting voted to boycott and another 31% voted to pull out and march independently, it seems rather inaccurate to pin this all on Christina Alley.
They also apparently had a bathroom incident last year at Pride London, which should be completely unacceptable at an LGBT event:
Official stewards who were running the toilets at Trafalgar Square announced that I, and any other transgender or transsexual woman, had to use the disabled toilets and was not allowed to use the regular women's toilets. I pointed out to the stewards that I transitioned and had surgery before they were born; I was more polite than a polite thing. No dice.
I went and fetched a posse of transwomen and transmen and we made a collective fuss. Their response - and remember these were official stewards AT PRIDE - was to radio in "we're being attacked by a mob of trannies! send backup". They were joined by a policeman, who was a LGBT liaison officer, who claimed that we had to be able to show our Gender Recognition Certificates if we wanted to use the women's loos and got quite upset when I explained to him that I had been involved in drafting the Act and that it did not take away rights that existed before it. At one point he threatened to arrest us for demonstrating on private property - those loos belong to Westminster Council, so you are not allowed to make a fuss there.
At one point it was claimed that they had instituted this policy a few minutes earlier because a man had attacked a woman; at another they said it was official Health and Safety policy. I don't think it was particularly to do with how much I do or don't pass - I think I got read in part because I am so tall and turned up in the queue among a particularly short group of lesbians.
The Pride committee responded that security was subcontracted and that they were wrong, but this seems like the sort of thing that they should have discussed in advance with their subcontractors. Not everyone they hire is going to be up to speed on being respectful to trans people, but the Pride organizers, who definitely know that throughout the day someone who's trans will want to use the bathroom, can definitely see it coming.
This sort of thing shouldn't happen in this day and age, but, well, here we are. Maybe their near-unanimous vote to protest in some way will change things for next year. Or maybe the gays who run Pride London will just be happy that the trans folk aren't showing up.