Town carnival apologies over ‘transphobic’ float where men dressed as female athletes

The float has been slammed for “mocking trans athletes” during the Great Torrington Mayfair and Carnival in Devon

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A town carnival has apologised over a “transphobic” float where men dressed as female athletes.

The float, which featured at the Great Torrington Mayfair and Carnival in Devon in May, was slammed for “mocking trans athletes”.

Signs on the float read: “Of course we're women, we sit down to pee” and “Olympics 2024 woman's 100m final”.

The signs referred to world’s swimming governing body, FINA’s decision to ban transgender athletes from female events.

Great Torrington, Devon
Great Torrington, Devon

Three men dressed in sports bras, speedos and wigs were seen running behind the float, while five women also ran alongside them.

The festival has since issued an apology over the float, adding that they have identified a person involved in the incident.

A statement from Great Torrington Mayfair & Carnival Committee said: "We held our committee meeting on Tuesday, May 17 2022 where the chairperson discussed the situation and we were able to establish that the float did not submit a carnival entry form and did not enter for judging.

“If they had done so, the judges and stewards would have refused their entry/float. It appears that the float joined the procession out of sight of anyone on the committee as it moved off and we assume, with the signage covered over, with this being unveiled further along the route.

FINA decided to ban transgender athletes from female swimming events
FINA decided to ban transgender athletes from female swimming events

“The committee discussed at length what we can do to prevent this from happening in the future. It became clear that we need to have better controls in place to ensure such a situation does not happen again. Looking forward to next year we plan to have more steward presence on the Commons and surrounding areas and also equip judges with improved training and guidance.

“We have managed to confirm an individual who was part of this entry and Councillor Doug Smith the chairperson will visit them to discuss inappropriate of the entry and feedback perception from the wider community. We will make it clear that this entry was unacceptable, and the committee will do their utmost to ensure they do not enter again with anything that is likely to cause similar offence.

“Overall, the committee are disappointed this has happened and in no way whatsoever promote or encourage an attitude of hate.

“The committee are very sorry for how this has made people feel and very much hopes that all concerned are assured of our best intentions and have addressed the issues raised appropriately with improved plans for future years.”

It comes after the float was branded “transphobic” by trans comedian Donna Landy, who attended the event.

Landy said: “First float I see at Torrington Carnival is a bunch of blokes in drag and a sign saying 'of course we are female we sit down to pee.

“Bare naked transphobia. OK, not *completely* naked, they had shorts and singlets on.”

Landy added to Devon Live: “I was going to the Torrington Carnival to see my daughters, who were in the parade. I got there a bit late and was just catching up with the procession when I came across this float, the last one in the parade, and was a bit puzzled.

“There were clearly some men in drag, along with some women in proper athletic gear, and every now and again they ran a short sprint to catch up with their float. When I caught up with the float and read the sign my heart sank, it was clearly mocking trans athletes in sport and by extension all trans people, really.

“I suppose the fact that they accepted it so readily shows how little awareness there is of trans issues in our local community. At the time I was shocked, angry, sad - and afraid. I started to wonder, what if people noticed I was trans and started mocking me, or worse?

“I could get jostled, or attacked. Perhaps it sounds far-fetched but I have trans friends who have been ridiculed in public and physically assaulted just for being trans, so who's to say it couldn't happen here?”