Bender Defenders is a community martial arts training movement, led by and for the queer and trans community in East London, with a focus on Tower Hamlets and Hackney. We are currently an unconstituted organisation.
The organisation was born out of Queer Night Pride demonstrations, which were organised in 2019 to reclaim the streets for LGBT+ people after a rise in hate crime.
UK Home Office figures show that the number of LGBTQ+ hate crimes reported has grown at twice the rate of other hate crimes over the past two years. According to Galop’s 2021 hate crime report, 3 in 5 LGBT+ people who experience hate crimes want and need help, but only 1 in 5 can access support. The cumulative impact of hate crime on the wellbeing of the queer and trans community is huge.
Bender Defenders is the answer to this – a space for queer and trans people to feel the benefits of training a martial art. Our founders wanted to do something regular and integrated to encourage queer and trans people to connect with their bodies and each other, instead of being left feeling angry, hopeless and scared.
We currently run 2 weekly classes in East London, on Tuesdays and Saturdays. More information can be found on our website.