Because I am transsexual I have experienced hate before.
But one day last year was different – this was a direct in my face incident.
I was supporting someone with a learning disability to go to the dentist and as we were about to leave the surgery car park we got blocked in by another car.
I beeped the horn to let them know we were trying to leave.
What happened next was truly shocking!
A young woman came to my window screaming at me for having the audacity to beep her. As she got closer she became confused about my gender.
“What are you? I don’t know what you are!” were some of the transphobic comments she made.
She returned to her car, only to reappear with her phone, still screaming abuse at me.
She filmed me while calling me a “man woman thing” and saying she was going to put it all over Facebook.
The abuse didn’t stop. “How does that make you feel?” She screamed at me.
Well how do you think? I was shaken and tearful, my confidence had been knocked. This was a targeted and aggressive attack.
It also came a year after my reassignment operation so I was slightly surprised as I’m a lot more natural in looks now. I blend in to the background much better.
I got back to my workplace and took some time out to reflect on what had happened. I took courage from my boss who advised me to report the incident, she believed I shouldn’t let my abuser get away with it.
I went and found a quiet spot and made the call to the police.
The next day I went to Greyfriars with my partner to make a statement. I was treated very sensitively and left feeling valued as a person.
As a transsexual woman.
And as a victim of a hate crime.
A few days later I got a call from the police who informed me that the woman had been arrested, interviewed, cautioned and charged with section 4a public order offence and bailed to appear in court in a month’s time.
Suddenly I felt lifted a little, knowing that whatever happened now, the woman responsible for that ghastly incident would face some justice – even if she somehow managed to avoid a conviction.
She didn’t. She was convicted, fined and collected a criminal record.
When I reported transphobic abuse to police in 2010 it seemed to me as though knowledge, understanding and even a desire to act by individual officers was lagging behind the actual law. But this time was different.
I have also helped the police recently with tailoring their policy on interacting with transgender people – as a witness, victim or perpetrator of crime.
Obviously there are questions that need to be asked, but there are sensitive and insensitive ways to ask questions, and my role there was to give them the words and phrases that were soft and sensitive enough to elicit a positive outcome in gaining the right information.
I guess that also played a large part in my decision to report this incident as I had no fear of talking to the police and even thought it would be interesting to see how much change there had been in recent years.
I want to send a message to all transgender and transsexual people – the police are on the side of victims, and treat trans people sensitively and value their need for justice just as much as everyone else. Please have the confidence – Abuse! There’s no excuse.