Counter-protest drowns out far-right anti-trans demo at New York City Hall
Police officers man the line to block trans advocates and anti-fascists demonstrating against an anti-trans protest. | Kei Kebreau / People's World

NEW YORK—On Nov. 14, just after 12 p.m. on the west border of City Hall Park, the sounds of pots, pans, noisemakers, and chanting rang through the air. Behind a set of crowd control barricades stood a combination of local police and private security, guarding no more than a dozen anti-trans protesters.

The bigots had gathered for the conclusion of the “Let Women Speak” tour organized by Standing For Women, an organization with unclear funding sources and legal status which headlines mainly Canadian and British women. Contrary to what titles like “Standing For Women” suggest, what these women stand to say is that women’s rights and trans rights are fundamentally opposed.

There were plenty of women there to counter them—trans and cisgender alike. Trans rights advocates, drawn together by WarmUp NYC, the Queens Club of the Communist Party USA, local anti-fascist groups, and others gathered opposite, ready for the event to begin at 1 p.m.

The TERFs—trans-exclusionary (so-called) radical feminists—held signs with familiar slogans, equating “woman” with “adult human female,” trans healthcare with mutilation and a lack of self-love, and a world without transgender people with reality. They also held signs stating, “Gender clinics are sterilizing our youth,” and “No puberty blockers” for trans youth, alongside conspiracy theories about vaccines and the World Economic Forum.

As more anti-fascist and feminist protesters arrived to counter the demonstration, tensions continued to heighten. Shouting matches continued as video cameras recorded events on both sides of the barricade. Not long after 12:30 p.m. multiple shoving matches broke out as cops struggled to push counter-protesters into the street using the barricade.

Kei Kebreau / People’s World

In the confusion, some protesters began to point out the line of police officers approaching from behind vans. One could make out an automated voice announcing over a loudspeaker the officers’ immediate intent: arrest anti-fascist and feminist counter-protesters for disorderly conduct.

It was nearly 1 p.m. when the police finally attacked and arrested several people. The overwhelming presence of police had temporarily instilled a relative quiet in the crowd, and under their protection, the transphobes tried to speak. This reporter was unable to hear much of what was said on the transphobe side over the constant clanging of cowbells, drums, and solidarity chants from counter-protest.

Ultimately, nine counter-protesters were arrested while the keynote speaker, Standing For Women founder Kellie-Jay Keen, remotely congratulated her fellow transphobes for “[h]elping NYPD hold the line.

It is bleakly ironic that multiple studies have indicated that police officers commit violence against their spouses and children at a rate of 40%, many times that of the general population. Keen herself was self-reportedly unable to attend the event, as the NYPD officer escorting her was “unwilling to risk [his] men” to get her through the line of protesters.

The multiple NYPD divisions present, including the Strategic Response Group, the Disorder Control Unit, and the Counterterrorism Bureau, found the will to arrest nine counter-protesters but could not escort one woman through a crowd to exercise her “free speech.”

With an increase in explicit fascist and anti-trans activity, as well as greater support of the system which upholds them, there is an increasing need to combat through mobilization. While fascists often lament the lack of “free speech,” they neglect to account for the consequences of speech. They cannot silence popular voices, and so they depend on the assistance of police violence to enforce their will.

On November 14, the people of New York made their voices heard loud and clear: Fascists are not welcome here.


Kei Kebreau
Kei Kebreau

Kei Kebreau is a young activist writing from New York.