Some 25 years ago, Fr Chris writes, I was appointed as a Community Safety Officer by the Centre for HIV and Sexual Health in Sheffield with funding released from South Yorkshire Police (SYP). I had a small budget to run some workshops and to promote safety in the LGBT Community. Most of the work centred around being safe on the streets, avoiding “gay-bashers”, being confident. SYP had seen an increase in the number of gay men who were being targeted for their sexuality. As is so often the case the “T” for Trans got lost in services being developed.
So 25 years later – as things have progressed and society has become more tolerant – we might expect to see a fall in Hate Crime, and attacks on LGBT Community. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Year on year there has been a substantial rise in the number of Transgender Women and Men who have been attacked – and killed.
In 2020-2021 there were 2,630 recorded crimes against people who identify as transgender. This means that nearly 3000 people were targeted for attack, abuse, arson etc simply because they are different, because they do not conform to someone else’s norm, because they make others feel embarrassed. 80% of Trans people in the UK have been the victim of Hate Crime. Some have died, and some have been murdered. (Official figures do not exist but reliable sources state that there were 369 “reported murders of trans and gender-diverse people between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018” around the world.) There were 9 trans people murdered 2009-2017 in the UK.
Those in authority sometimes seem to dismiss the higher number of recorded crimes against our Trans Community saying that people “now feel able to report crime easily”. This doesn’t sit well with me – the powers that be should always have been enabling people to report crime, and it seems to vilify those who didn’t report crime as somehow being weak.
Wikipedia defines Transphobia as “Transphobia can include fear, aversion, hatred, violence, anger, or discomfort felt or expressed towards people who do not conform to social gender expectations….Transphobia is a type of prejudice and discrimination, similar to racism and sexism, and transgender people of colour are often subjected to all three forms of discrimination at once.”
Fear, discomfort and even embarrassment can cause people to behave in uncharacteristic and extreme ways – but, that does not excuse violence, intimidation and murder.
As a church we pride ourselves at St Chrysostom’s in striving or working towards inclusion at all levels – and that must include EVERYONE including those who might cause us to question what our own social gender expectations are!
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed annually on November 20th.