Call for trans community not to tolerate hate crime

The vicar of Lancaster the Rev Chris Newlands.

The vicar of Lancaster the Rev Chris Newlands.

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HATE crimes against people from the transgender community have seen a rise in reporting – but police chiefs know they are only the tip of the iceberg.

HATE crimes against people from the transgender community have seen a rise in reporting – but police chiefs know they are only the tip of the iceberg.

MODEL  RELEASED.    Domestic violence.  Silhouette of a woman protecting herself from a blow from her partner by holding her arms in front of her face.

MODEL RELEASED. Domestic violence. Silhouette of a woman protecting herself from a blow from her partner by holding her arms in front of her face.

During 2014/15, there were 15 hate crimes against transgender people reported to Lancashire Police. But this year, just from April to the end of August, there had already been 13 transgender hate crimes reported.

In the last five years, there have been 93 reported to Lancashire Police.

PC Ian Ashton, community cohesion officer at Lancashire Police overseeing hate crimes in West Division covering Blackpool and Lancaster, says: “The trans community are where the gay community were about 15 years ago.

“The trans community has always been there but it used to be very hidden for people.

Transgender series logo - series by Aasma Day - Logo designed by Phil Gorner

Transgender series logo - series by Aasma Day - Logo designed by Phil Gorner

“There is now a lot more information which is making people aware of the trans community and there are more people who are out and trans.

“Everyone is different and to target someone because they are trans or because of their gender identity is not acceptable.

“We would not want to see anyone targeted because of who they are.

“However, we know there is a reluctance for people to report transgender hate crimes to the police.

Plea to save Lancashire Constabulary from further cuts

Plea to save Lancashire Constabulary from further cuts

“This may be down to a fear of reprisals or because how they have been dealt with by the police in the past or because they do not want to be identified.

“We want people to come forward and report any hate crimes and incidents to us.

“A lot of people who are victims of hate crimes might not necessarily want to go to court. They just want it to stop.

“There are ways of us protecting people where they can remain anonymous. It is not just about arresting people and taking them to court.

“We want to break down barriers and allow people from the trans community to have the confidence to speak to us.

“EVERYONE is a child of God and we need to welcome everyone even if they might not fit into the boxes we like to put people into.”

Rev Chris Newlands, vicar of Lancaster, admits that a lot of clergy don’t know the first thing about gender dysphoria.

Rev Newlands, who is openly gay himself and in a long term same sex civil partnership, says the church has come a long way, but now it needs to take a lead on being welcoming to those who identify as trans.

The issue was highlighted to Rev Newlands, who is the vicar at Lancaster Priory, when he was approached by a man who had transitioned fully from female to male and wanted “God to know him as he was now” and be re-christened. After realising the church did not offer 
this, Rev Newlands created a special service for the man who had initially been baptised as a baby girl.

Rev Newlands explains: “This man felt God knew a little girl but not the man he was now. We created a service which allowed him to make his baptismal vows again but using his new name and ‘he’ instead of ‘she’. His family and friends were there and it was just a way of re-introducing him to God.

“He now feels part of the church and that God knows and loves him.”

Rev Newlands realised there was nothing within the church to give clergy guidance and he is taking the matter to the attention of the General Synod.

He says: “There are more and more people now who identify as trans and the church has to take a lead on being welcoming on God’s behalf. That’s why I took the decision to go through the process of the church as I feel there should be some national documents that clergy can turn to so they have the same information at their fingertips.

“It will go before the General Synod soon to discuss a formal way to recognise a person’s gender transition.”

Rev Newlands says everyone is different and it is important to listen to people’s stories and meet their needs.

He added: “If the church leads the way, hopefully it will encourage others to be welcoming and affirming. There are now a number of clergy around the country who are trans themselves so the church needs to understand the wider issues for the trans community and for families whose children are experiencing a non binary gender identity where they don’t see themselves as either a boy or a girl.

“Medical science has made huge advances and the church has got to catch up.”

A TRANS woman in her late 40s has revealed she experienced hate from her own family after revealing she wanted to live as a woman.

The woman, who lives in West Lancashire and does not want to be identified, explains: “When I was about 10, I realised something was seriously going wrong and I wasn’t shaping up to my expectations.

“I would go to bed every night and pray that I would wake up as a girl. But each morning, I would wake up seriously disappointed and devastated when that did not happen. My parents and society in general didn’t talk about it and when they did, it was treated with ridicule.

“Public perception has now changed and people now realise it is OK to be trans.

“It is better to be a fully functioning positive member of society after transition than it is to be a miserable and introverted person who is lying to themselves and the rest of the world.”

The woman only completed her transition a few years ago. However, she admits she faced hatred and abuse from her family who could not accept that she wanted to be a female.

She explains: “My family directly intervened to try to prevent my transition. I was hit, punched, restrained and locked in places.

“A lot of the abuse was mental and they were trying to destroy my resolve. I would be called a freak, a pantomime dame, a bloke in a dress, a weak excuse for a human being and that I would end up homeless, penniless and living in the gutter. I felt totally numb. The more I pushed towards transition, the more extreme their behaviour became.

“They weren’t interested in listening to my needs. They were just worried about what the neighbours and their friends would think of them if I had a public transition.

“I put up with it as long as I could, but I eventually sought help. The police are now far more aware of hate crime than they used to be and what they need to do to step in.

“There are all sorts of hate crimes, but in a modern society, it just isn’t on. It is just because people are different and this breeds insecurity and lack of knowledge and understanding. I could have gone to my grave lying to myself and everyone else, but that would have been so sad. It is never too late to transition.”