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I was attacked while trying to report on an anti-trans protest
Queer Gaze

I was attacked while trying to report on an anti-trans protest

Shivani Dave Broadcaster and journalist they/Them queer, non-binary, trans, South Asian/ Indian, bisexual

Just over a week ago, I was injured in an attack by the far right at Honor Oak in London.

I attended as a journalist to report on the anti-drag protests, but because I am trans, no one seemed to care when the far right came for me.

Injuries turned into a campaign of ongoing harassment - but the media remained silent.

On the morning of Saturday 24th June, the far right violently attacked members of the Lewisham community who had gathered to protect children attending a Drag Queen Story Hour event in Honor Oak Pub.

I was reporting when, to my horror, the far right decided to attack the queer counter-protesters, threatening to โ€œkick the fuck out ofโ€ them whilst I stood behind, scribbling down notes.

I ducked projectiles thrown towards me. I was crushed behind the counter-protesters as they were forced against the pub wall by their attackers, unable to retreat further.

This left me and others injured. Despite my utter terror, I continued to report.

Just because Iโ€™m trans, doesnโ€™t mean everything I do is activism Jess O'Thomson

A journalist being attacked by fascists whilst reporting, especially in a residential neighbourhood in London, is not a common occurrence. When journalists are attacked, it is usually widely reported, as seen with the attack on Yelena Milashina this week.

Despite this, I have had little support from those in the profession, and the media has remained relatively silent - even when I received threats of further violence for reporting.

One of the far-right groups involved in the attacks, Turning Point UK, have tried to paint me as a protester - despite their own images showing me in a pink tank top, not in โ€˜black blocโ€™ like the other protesters, and writing in a jotter.

When Women In Journalism spoke out against the attacks on me, Turning Point UK referred to me as a โ€˜maskedโ€™ protester and threatened legal action.

This is apparently because, as a disabled person, I was wearing a N95 covid mask.

Even PinkNews initially described Trans Safety Network as organising the protest rather than merely reporting. Yet, I was visibly there as a journalist and had even announced I would be in advance. This mistake furthered the far-right narrative against me, putting me in greater danger.

It is assumed that because I am trans, everything I do is activism. I am not impartial on trans rights - how could I be? But this inspires, not limits, my writing. Pretending trans people cannot report on trans movements or do anything else without it being framed as (unacceptable) 'activism' seeks to deny us our hard-won skills and expertise.

The attacks on me have been an attack on media freedom, designed to intimidate trans journalists from reporting on important stories.

Despite my awful experience, I wonโ€™t be stopping any time soon.

  A writer, legal researcher, and journalist - with a focus on trans and disabled human rights. Jess is a Director of Trans Safety Network, where they research and publish on anti-trans harm, including the far right.   trans, disabled, nonbinary woman   queer, working class / low-income  They/She Jess O'Thomson Writer, legal researcher, journalist
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