The protesters pushing to ban trans conversion therapy
As the UK Government attempts to leave trans people out of the conversion therapy ban, Jody Evans photographs those taking to the streets in protest.
Photography Jody Evans
Nearly four years ago, Theresa May’s government promised the UK LGBTQ+ community they would ban the harmful practice of conversion therapy — a currently legal, pseudoscientific process where religious organisations, doctors or parents attempt to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity, sometimes through torturous means. Since then, the ban has been stalled many times; the promise only really being reaffirmed by Boris Johnson as a way to soften criticism when putting in place other anti-trans legislation such as cancelling Gender Recognition reform in 2020.
After an extended 14-week government consultation on conversion therapy, and the prime minister’s proclamation that the practice is “abhorent”, briefing documents leaked last week declared that Boris would not be moving forward with the ban after all. A senior government source later shared that the prime minister had backtracked, promising to once again go forward with the legislation but excluding the transgender community.
In response, at 1pm on 10 April 2022, thousands of LGBTQ+ people and allies of the community took to London’s Downing Street to stand in solidarity with trans people and call for their inclusion in the proposed conversion therapy ban. Survivors of the practice shared personal stories of their harrowing experiences whilst crowds chanted “shame”, “trans power” and “LGB with the T” in the direction of the Cabinet Office.
We went down to the protest to meet those in attendance, get a sense of why they felt compelled to take to the streets, and find out what keeps them optimistic.
Izémrasen, 24, London
What do you do? Uni student and multidisciplinary artist. Why are you out protesting today? For trans rights reform and for trans to be included in the banning of conversion therapy. What makes you feel hopeful? Seeing all the BIPOC trans people and friends today. @izeneko_
Maria, 23, Romania
What do you do? Charity worker. Why are you out protesting today? To protect my community, I’m non-binary. What makes you feel hopeful? Seeing so many beautiful people gathered together. @maria7mt
Rudy, 34, London
What do you do? Artist. Why are you out protesting today? Conversion therapy is violence. There is nothing wrong or shameful in being trans. No trans person should feel like there’s something wrong with them because of their gender. What makes you feel hopeful? It almost made me cry when I saw how many people were here to fight against conversion therapy. @rudyloewe
Keith, Vicky, Ashleigh, Angus, Abbie and James, Peterborough
What do you do? We’re a social group for LGBTQIAA+ and straight friends. Why are you out protesting today? Because we believe in trans rights. Because conversion therapy is wrong. Because no one tortures my son. Because Boris is a knob. What makes you feel hopeful? This crowd, elections and Stonewall’s support. @inclusive_peterborough
Isadora, 26, Brighton
What do you do? Human rights law. Why are you out protesting today? Protect trans people. What makes you feel hopeful? The LGBTQIA+ community and the younger generation. @littl_iz
Reece, 28, London
What do you do? Writer and performer. Why are you out protesting today? To support my trans siblings. And, fuck the tories. What makes you feel hopeful? Seeing the community show up for each other like this. @reececonnolly
Joshua, 26, London
What do you do? Drag. Why are you out protesting today? To stand in solidarity with trans folk. Ban conversion therapy now! What makes you feel hopeful? Big shows of solidarity from allies. @carrotdrag
Sal, 27, Nottingham
What do you do? Comedian and writer. Why are you out protesting today? To show up for my trans siblings and stand up in queer solidarity. What makes you feel hopeful? The determination, hope and beauty of our community. @sal.morton
Omar, 30, London
What do you do? I am a bartender. Why are you out protesting today? Because the ban does not involve trans people, who suffer most from conversion therapy. What makes you feel hopeful? That a lot of people are fighting for trans rights. @o.theseaa
Jennifer, 57, Greenwich
What do you do? Accountant. Why are you out protesting today? I’m tired of being ignored, people hating on me for no reason and strangers debating my existence. I’m tired of people talking about a trans ideology when it’s the haters who have the ideology, I’m just being me. The government are using us as a wedge in a culture war. What makes you feel hopeful? Peter bloody Tatchell being here! Also all the [LGBTQ+ and HIV] groups that pulled out of the government’s hypocritical #safetobeme event [in response].
James, 20, Blackburn
What do you do? Dance student. Why are you out protesting today? Ban conversion therapy for all. What makes you feel hopeful? Solidarity. We get by together. @jammismith
Jesamyn, 22, Wanstead
What do you do? Art student. Why are you out protesting today? Ban conversion therapy for all. What makes you feel hopeful? Meeting people in the community. @jesamynpannell
B, 21, London
What do you do? Student. Why are you out protesting today? Because trans rights are human rights <3. What makes you feel hopeful? My supportive queer and trans friends, and how much love I can still find for myself, despite being told all my life that I am wrong. @bauer
Ri, 24, London
What do you do? Digital creator and retail manager. Why are you out protesting today? I am a Black non-binary queer person tired of losing my siblings. We exist, we are beautiful and we are wild! What makes you feel hopeful? To see so many people fighting and using their love and joy as well. We deserve the rights others have. It’s not a debate! @they.them.ri
Bobby, 24, Wales
What do you do? I work with non-verbal autistic people. I want to be a speech and language therapist. Why are you out protesting today? The Conservative government does not care about trans people. Boris Johnson has been very public about his opinions that are very misinformed. Conversion therapy doesn’t work. It is torture. They want to erase us because they recognise our power. If it weren’t for trans BIPOC, we wouldn’t have the trans and gay rights we do. What makes you feel hopeful? The trans community. Cis people that care and sign petitions, email MPs and turn up to protests. Keep fighting for us!
Photography Jody Evans