Fun run investigated over ‘hate crime’ claim

The poster advertising the event
The poster advertising the event

A FUNDRAISING run organised by a children’s hospice near Wigan is being investigated by Lancashire Police as a possible hate crime against transsexuals.

The probe follows a complaint by an outraged transsexual group which says the run – in which men will dress as women – is “dehumanising”.

Dehumanising us this way gives carte blanche to those that would do us physical harm, much like the gay bashers of old

Steph Holmes

Derian House Children’s Hospice in Chorley plans to stage the 5k event – called Dames on the Run – in October.

But Chrysalis Transsexual Support Groups wants it stopped and has alerted police.

The run, set to take place in Chorley’s Astley Park, is to raise money for the hospice, which cares for sick and terminally ill children.

Steph Holmes, of Chrysalis, said: “We get enough confusion with the word transgender, which mixes us up with transvestites.

“Transvestites certainly don’t dress for comic purposes and I don’t get up in the morning and think ‘what can I put on today to give people a laugh?’

“This race pokes fun at cross-dressing and, by association, us, reducing us to objects to be laughed at.

“Dehumanising us this way gives carte blanche to those that would do us physical harm, much like the gay bashers of old.”

She added: “It’s a small step from ridicule to persecution. The current stats suggest a 34 per cent chance of beaten up, raped or killed for being trans. We do not need to give the bigots any more ammunition.

“I am sure that Derian House didn’t intend to give offence. The very fact that it’s a children’s hospice should make them sensitive to potential bad publicity and the effect that this has on young trans people.”

Derian House said: “As a children’s hospice, we deal with highly sensitive and emotive issues all the time and would never have considered organising a fundraising event that might cause upset or offence.

“Dames on the Run was conceived as a fun event, drawing on the much-loved Pantomime Dame character that is part of our theatrical heritage and supported by hundreds of thousands of people every year. It was intended appeal to the fathers of desperately sick children, who do so much to hold their family together in the face of their child’s devastating illness and who ask for very little support in return.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for them to participate in a fun-packed event and encourage other men to show their support and raise vitally needed funds for the hospice.

“We were shocked to receive a complaint, and our chief executive wrote immediately to apologise for any offence caused and assure her that none was intended.

“She has accepted an invitation to visit the hospice on Monday.”

Lancashire Police said: “We are aware of and investigating an incident that was reported to us as a hate crime on Thursday.”