Sheffield’s Women of Steel become symbol of trans solidarity amid rise in hate crimes
Sheffield's iconic 'Women of Steel' have become a symbol of solidarity for trans women in the city and around the world amid a rise in hate crimes.
Campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) said two of its LGBTQ members had made allies with the sculpture by dressing it in corsages displaying the pink and blue colours of Trans Pride last week.
In addition, rosettes that read 'LGBTQ Solidarity Forever' and 'Trans Women are Women' could also be seen on their chests in a strong message of solidarity.
The event comes after the sculpture was used during Trans Pride week by women in Sheffield who, the group said, hold "so-called gender critical views" to express their opinion that trans women should not be able to access all-women spaces, a right that transgender women have under the UK law.
Organiser Jennifer Jones said: “I’m a bisexual woman and also a women’s rights activist. A couple of weeks’ ago when I saw ‘Women’s Rights’ colours on this statue I thought it was really cute.
"Until I saw the ‘TERF-y’ signs that had been put along with it. It’s absolutely deplorable of anybody to make trans women feel that they are not welcome in their own city and trans people and the wider trans community feel unwelcome in their city.
"We’ve come down today to show solidarity and to cleanse the space, to take it back. I’ll make sure that everyone knows that all women are welcome in Sheffield. All women are valued in Sheffield.“
Co-organiser David Hayes said: "I’m here as a gay man who knows what it’s like to experience homophobia, especially in the 1980s.
"Needless vitriol, name-calling, made to feel uncomfortable in various kinds of settings. This is happening again to trans people and especially trans women in the UK and around the world.
"The LGBTQ community need to fight against it because the united LGBTQ fight was begun by trans women."
The action comes amidst a rise in trans hate crimes across the UK. In 2020, LGBTQ+ anti-violence charity ‘Galop' reported that four out of every five transgender people in the UK experienced a form of trans hate crime over the previous 12 months.