Transgender campaigner Shon Faye is urging everyone to react how she did when faced with a horrific anti-trans message: tear it down.
On her way to work on Tuesday (September 4), Faye told PinkNews she was taken aback by a sticker in her train’s bathroom which said “women’s sex based rights are not for penises.”
The messages, which have popped up in various locations, follow the spread of “women don’t have penises” stickers around the UK earlier this month.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson pledged to remove the anti-trans signs after they were disseminated in his city, while India Willoughby condemned Katie Hopkins after the right-wing commenter supported the stickers.
The new batch uses Stonewall’s style, slogan and a doctored version of its logo, which reads: “Bonerwall.”
Faye told PinkNews that when she saw the sticker in the Bristol to Cardiff train’s unisex bathroom, before she tore it up and threw it in the bin, it gave her “a sinking feeling.”
“It was something that had previously only existed online for me, but this transphobia is creeping into everyday life,” she said. “It’s a s**tshow.”
She added: “To be honest, I feel less upset by it and more angry. These stickers – the penis ones and this one – they’re not what anti-trans feminists are saying they’re doing.
“They’re saying they’re trying to make the public aware of the issues, but these stickers are nonsensical.”
Faye, who earlier this year called on activists to “centre trans women” in a rallying speech as the host of Amnesty UK’s Women Making History festival, said that there were ulterior motives behind the signs.
She explained that “what it’s actually designed to do is harass trans people and trans women in particular.
“They’re meant to remind me there are people willing to resist me using female public spaces.
“I’m very lucky that I can pass and access women’s spaces, but that’s not true for everyone. This is about instilling paranoia and fear in trans women, which makes me really angry.”
The activist explained that she posted about the sticker on Twitter – in a series of posts which have attracted thousands of likes – because it was crucial to publicly stand up for trans rights.
“This is an intimidation tactic,” she said. “I’m not going so far as to say it’s a fascist tactic, but it is one that far-right groups use, to cause fear in a minority.
“It’s really important to openly resist, to say that this isn’t something that’s acceptable and to be defiant about that.”
Faye, who was part of a group of activists who turned anti-trans campaign #peaktrans into a beautiful pro-trans hashtag, added that “these stickers cross the line, and it’s important that people who aren’t very clued-up get that this is abuse.
“I wanted them to be able to relate to a trans person who saw this on their way to work, and also to show trans people that we should face this head-on.
“If anyone sees these, they should tear them down. We won’t stand for this if we see it in public.”
She also emphasised that there were more serious examples of anti-trans actions across the UK, saying: “I’ve had friends in the past week being locked in a cab by a taxi driver and another being heckled and having things thrown at her in the street.
“This helps to maintain a climate in which we’re already feeling very surveilled and defensive in public spaces, and whips up more fear.
“It invites people to see us as freakish and tells street harassers that their actions are okay, that in this climate they can reduce us to our bodies and use these tired tropes.”
A Stonewall spokesperson told PinkNews: “Trans people are facing horrific levels harassment and intimidation in their daily lives.
“Our 2018 Trans Report revealed that one in eight trans employees (12 per cent) have been physically attacked at work, while two in five trans people (41 per cent) have experienced a hate crime or incident in the last year.
“These are not just statistics, they represent the lives of trans people, which are only being made worse by increasingly frequent attacks in the media, online and in public spaces.”
The organisation recommended options for people seeking to push for trans equality, saying: “If we want to improve life for trans people we need more people and organisations to be visible, active allies.
“One way that you can show your support for trans equality is by responding to the government’s consultation on the Gender Recognition Act.
“Getting rid of a humiliating, dehumanising process to allow trans people to have their gender legally recognised would be a huge step forward towards equality.
“Now is the time to Come Out For Trans Equality.”
This article was amended to include the comments from Stonewall’s spokesperson.