As most of us were aspiring towards peace on Earth and goodwill to all over the festive season, Bristol band, Brasher were forced to take a hard ethical stance and cancel a show. They were left with the bitter taste of intolerance after their guitarist, Mel Pereira received a decidedly unsavoury reception at The Rockhouse in Andover, the venue they were due to play that night.
The incident began when the manager of the venue instructed Mel to not to use the women’s toilet and quizzed her as to whether she had had a full sex change. It concluded all three bands refusing to play and leaving the venue in a show of solidarity without playing a single note.
Citing Mel’s own contextualising words, from a Facebook post of 21st December, “Quick back story… I am transgender, I’ve lived as a woman publicly for at least two years and lived as gender fluid for a year before that. My legal name is Amelia, I am recognised as female by my employer. I have had no medical aid but have fully and socially transitioned to female. I use she or her pronouns.”
Make yourself a bracing drink, find a quiet spot and digest the entirety of Mel’s original, emotive, impactful Facebook post here.
As well as offering Brasher our unqualified admiration and support for their uncompromising actions, we wanted to catch up with Mel recently, to reflect on the aftermath of that night’s events. Here’s what she said (preceded by our questions, obvs):
Have you experienced the kind of attitude you came across in Andover before in any walk of life, not just at gigs?
This was the first time I’ve been in this sort of situation. I’ve been to so many venues as well other places like cafés, train stations or shopping centres and never experienced this before.
What feelings has the incident left you with?
Lots of mixed emotions. Some of me feels pride in standing up for my community and in the face of discrimination but I’ve been left with an underlying feeling of anxiety which I haven’t felt since before I came out. It takes quite a lot of courage for some trans people – myself included – to use certain bathrooms and this courage has currently, but hopefully only temporarily, been knocked out of me.
Has the venue been in touch since?
Not directly. They didn’t even issue an apology until the media backlash happened, but even then, the apology was edited into a previous status on their Facebook but subsequently deleted about an hour later. Nothing official has been released since!
What has the reaction been like from others?
I’ve received nothing but solidarity from friends and fans of Brasher. People who don’t fall into these categories however have been quite the opposite… the TERF community online have obviously loved this story and used it as an excuse to abuse me via our Facebook page and in the comments setion of other sites, including the venue’s Facebook. I’ve recieved threats of violence against me and also a death threat from some of these TERFs just for being alive and being me.
What’s the biggest positive thing you’ve been able to take from this?
Our message of trans inclusivity has been spread really far. Our original status about the incident went viral and loads of trans awareness/punk rock sites and internet threads have been sharing our message. We have had lots of humbling messages from members of the trans community thanking us for standing up and speaking out, which have all been really lovely to read and respond to.
It’s probably wishful to hope that, in a civilised, progressive world, this kind of shit might end, but while we wait, let’s hear Brasher’s ‘Fin De Merde’.