The Queer Endurance / Defiance group had organised this rally for trans acceptance and reproductive rights as soon as they heard Posie Parker planned to come to Wellington. And while the anti-trans campaigner never ended up making it to the nation’s capital after her failed Auckland event, around 3,000 members of the rainbow community and their supporters still met on the steps of Civic Square today, in what organisers believe could be the largest demonstration for trans rights in Aotearoa’s history.
The first speaker of the day admitted when they put the event together, they only expected a couple hundred of supporters. Instead, speeches had to be paused part way through to reorient the speakers for all the additional attendees who were also occupying the City to Sea Bridge.
Speakers spoke of their own experiences as trans people, of religious trauma, of sexual violence, their struggles to access health care and of the power of collective action. They spoke of the love and freedom of self expression that saved them. They encouraged attendees to vote in support of trans rights this election year.
They were joined by spokespeople from Fired Up Stilettos, the group of strippers organising for better treatment at work and by a foundational member of Victoria University’s Women’s Liberation group from the 1970s. Her speech reminding folks that their original feminist actions were about breaking up, not protecting, exclusive spaces.
There were three dissenting voices that attempted to speak over the women talking. In each case, the organisers sent wardens to them, ensuring their safety as they were drowned out by chants of “Love not hate”. As the formalities concluded, the organisers let the music play and trans folk and their supporters danced and mingled before being sent safely home.