As Manchester Pride celebrations came to an end on Sunday 28 August, the national Trans memorial for the UK was set ablaze.
The beautiful memorial based in Manchester city’s Sackville Gardens took the form of large detailed butterflies carved into a tall sycamore tree, decorated by plaques dedicated to victims of transphobia and transphobic hate crimes.
Sparkle – The National Transgender Charity is saddened to report that the National Trans Memorial, the first of its kind in the UK, was irreparably damaged last night, and is now structurally unsound.
— Claire the giraffe (@clairegreen66) August 29, 2022
“It’s important to stress that no one knows if the fire was a deliberate act of vandalism,” said Vicki Mulligan, chair of the board of trustees for the national Trans charity, Sparkle.
“What is clear though from reports is that Manchester Pride’s nominated security weren’t aware of the memorial and the importance it holds with trans, non-binary and gender expansive communities,” Mulligan continued, “and were allowing visitors to the Manchester Pride Big Weekend to urinate against it, an act of criminal damage in itself, and perhaps representative of the ignorance and abuse our community faces daily.”
At Manchester Pride this weekend, the national transgender memorial was pissed on and then set on fire and if that isn't a good comparison to how the UK is treating trans people, I dunno what is.
— Papa Tran ⚧ (@Tranimus85) August 30, 2022
An events organiser at the same charity, Jay Crawford, told Manchester Evening News that the fire may have been ignited when a cigarette was left against the tree and had “gone into a gap and bellowed out from the middle”.
A candlelit vigil was set to take place at the memorial on Monday 29 August, just a day after the “deeply upsetting” incident. The vigil, dedicated to those who lost their lives to HIV and AIDS, went ahead as planned but attendees could not pay their respects next to the memorial.
“Sparkle will be working with Manchester Pride to ascertain the circumstances behind the damage to the memorial, and exploring how it can be replaced by a lasting and resilient monument that reflects the rich diversity of the trans, non-binary and gender expansive communities,” the charity wrote on Facebook.
The national Trans memorial was the first of its kind in the UK, according to Sparkle, and is the site of a yearly vigil to cap Trans Awareness Week. Following the devastation left by the fire, a group of volunteers spent hours trying to clean up and preserve the site.
The National Trans Memorial, which is the first of its kind in the UK, caught fire on Sunday night
— Manchester News MEN (@MENnewsdesk) August 31, 2022
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