Thursday, May 7, 2009

Copping Out

Recently it has come to my attention that some of our SA girls are still having difficulties with transphobia. Yes, I know - it isnt exactly a new thing. Like homophobic hate crimes, transphobia (fear or loathing of transgender people) still exists and inspires hate crimes of its own. However, it seems people exposed to transphobia are either keeping quiet about it or the authorities are refusing to do something about it.

Yesterday a girl, let's call her Sheila, told me that last saturday some bloke in the street accosted her and gruffly asked if she was a man or a woman. Apparently he was standing at the door of a pub she was passing and drinking cooldrink out of a tin. When she couldn't give him an answer he liked, the conversation turned ugly and as she left, he threw the tin at her. It struck her on her back.

When asked if she reported the incident, she asked me who would take it seriously - the cops refused to open a docket the last time such a thing happened to her. Now this seems to be a common occurence in SA, one of the reasons why there are no hate crime statistics for GLBTI focused crimes. People are too afraid that the cops will ignore their trauma - or even turn to abusing the victims further.

Next time this brave "man" may decide to use a brick or a knife because, hey - he got away with it last time, didn't he - and 'who cares, it's only a tranny and nobody takes a tranny seriously'?

This is simply unacceptable.

Today I came across the following news article: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-12292.html

This enterprising transwoman has taken it upon herself to assist her local police department by educating them in trans matters, including transphobia. Granted, that is in the considerably more civilized UK, but the principle is the same.

She says "“Do you know how many transgender crimes and incidents were recorded by Dyfed Powys Police in 2006/ 07? None. That’s because there is no box to tick, people don’t necessarily want to say they are trans and it’s a very sensitive issue. Statistics say a third of trans people attempt suicide one or more times – if I can stop one person committing suicide then that’s worth it.”

Now the question I am asking is, why has nobody else thought of doing something like this here in SA yet?

Another question I am asking is, now that we have seen this bold and impressive example, who among us will take the iniative to approach their local police departments and offer their services to provide education to police officers on matters relating to transphobia and homophobia?

Surely the gains won by such an initiative would by far outweigh the losses to the individual in terms of anonymity and time sacrificed?

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