Transgender Day of Visibility was marked in beautiful sunshine by trans activists, their friends and allies on Friday, March 31 in New Steine Gardens.
An impressive lineup of speakers addressed the crowd including; Daniel Cheesman the new CEO of Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard, Joanna Rowland-Stuart the trans rep and volunteer at Brighton & Hove LGBT Community Safety Forum, Sgt Peter Allan, Hate Crime Sergeant and Trans Equality Advocate at Sussex Police and Labour Councillor, Lloyd Russell-Moyle who all highlighted the importance of trans people being visible and being supported when they are.
Broadcaster and trans activist Sophie Cook who hosted the event, brought the vigil to a close with a powerful motivational speech about her trans journey to date and the difficult decisions she had to take to be herself and live her life as she wants to.
Jeremy Corbyn MP leader of the Labour Party and Caroline Lucas MP for Brighton Pavilion and joint leader of the Green Party both sent messages of support.
Jeremy Corbyn said: “I would like to send you all a message of support on Transgender Day of Visibility.
Raising the visibility of transgender people and recognising their great contributions to society is crucial. People must feel safe to express their true gender identity free of fear.
Too often, transgender people face verbal and physical abuse and incidents of online bullying have increased over recent years.
Trans visibility has never been higher – and I’d like to thank you all for all your work to make that so. But, as you know, that increased visibility has led to a backlash from those determined to deny trans identities.
We need visibility to break down prejudice. Through education, awareness and the commitment of trans people to express their identities we will reduce bigotry and build an inclusive society for all.”
Caroline Lucas, MP, said: “I’m sorry not to be with you this afternoon. I received the invitation to join you yesterday evening, but unfortunately I’ve got long-standing commitments at the Green Party conference in Liverpool.
Whilst I’m not able to be with you in person, I wanted to send these few words. Firstly, just how immensely proud I am to be an MP in such a vibrant, understanding, and accepting city. But we should not be complacent.
Not whilst there is currently NO legal recognition for Trans youth under the age of 18; not whilst there is currently NO legal recognition for non-binary people; not whilst the Trans community in Britain, and elsewhere, continues to face violence and discrimination.
Mahatma Gandhi said: “make injustice visible”; and today, on International Transgender Day of Visibility it’s an opportunity to embrace his message, to celebrate the transgender community, and to challenge injustice when we encounter it.
The power of being visible is immense, it cannot be underestimated. It sends the message that we will not be ruled by fear and hate, and in Brighton and Hove we lead the way on spreading that message.
To all attending the event today – raising awareness of the discrimination experienced by the transgender community is vital. I hope this occasion is an opportunity to make some noise, to celebrate, and importantly, to be seen.
The event, organised at just 24 hours notice, brought an impressive group of speakers together with messages of support from national political leaders and should be added to the annual LGBT+ calendar of events in the city.