“None of us are the same, and that’s okay—that’s what makes women beautiful and unique, the fact that we are all different.” That’s what Lucia Blayke, founder of London Trans Pride and the brains behind Harpies, the UK’s first LGBTQI+ strip club, first said when speaking to Screen Shot about International Women’s Day 2021.
To celebrate this year’s IWD as well as Women’s History Month, Screen Shot partnered with three inspiring women who, through their community, platform, and online presence have challenged gender inequality each in their own way. Among them is Lucia Blayke, a passionate trans activist and scene figure who’s made a name for herself not only through her impressive projects mentioned above, but also by constantly speaking up about the specific issues the transgender community faces on a daily basis.
When it comes to challenging gender inequality, fighting for transgender rights and against discrimination and violence against trans people regarding housing, employment, public accommodations, education, healthcare—and more—should be at the top of the list. Both should go hand in hand, regardless of what the likes of J.K. Rowling think.
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Through her work, Blayke aims to help trans people “feel so much stronger and comfortable in themselves,” by bringing the community together. But, as she explained herself, there is so much more that needs to be done. “To me, challenging gender inequality in 2021 means continuing to hold our government accountable for any transphobic changes to legislature. This includes deciphering the deliberately vague announcements and propaganda in the media, to analyse that and raise awareness on what the government is trying to sweep under the carpet.”
As trans and gender diversity has become a regular topic of public debate (and a favoured target of rightwing attacks), the UK government used the COVID-19 induced chaos as an additional distraction to help hide its transphobic actions. Public figures such as politicians or even high profile newspaper columnists have used the pandemic to further demonise trans people—be that in print or on air.
According to a 2020 research conducted by the LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop, in the last year alone in the UK, a quarter of trans people had experienced or been threatened with physical assault. Nearly one in five had experienced or been threatened with sexual assault.
The first step to start tackling transphobia is to recognise and understand transphobic hate crime. The second is to report such hate crimes. But along with those two necessary actions comes the need for more—the need for real support, for a community.
“My mission as the founder of London Trans Pride is to continue to show trans people everywhere that there is a community out there for them, that there is a place for them and that there are people that will love them and understand their struggles,” shared Blayke, adding that “it’s important now more than ever.”
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For International Women’s Day 2021, Blayke’s message to all women, but specifically to trans women, is one of self-love, unity and defiance, “Women come in so many different shapes and sizes, from so many different walks of life. How you know you are a woman comes from your intuition, not from society. It’s our patriarchal society’s messed up views that suppress women and trans people, and our unique power. But we’re still here, and we’re still shining bright. We cannot be erased, and that’s the most beautiful thing in the world.”
Challenging gender inequality in 2021 equals fighting for trans rights every day of the year. It means being courageous enough to speak up about injustice, even when you’re not the main target of it. And it also means taking part in the conversation and getting involved with Blayke’s movement in one way or another in order to promote the same message she does: “To all the trans women out there, keep your heads held high, be proud of who you are. Know that there’s a community out there that loves you and has your back.”