Sunday, 18 October 2015

Putting a positive spin on hate crime

This week has been National Hate Crime Awareness Week in the UK. It started on Saturday 10th October and yesterday saw this come to a close. Recently I have been involved with Avon and Somerset Police with transgender awareness and because of this, I became involved in their celebrating diversity campaign.

It is hard to imagine how a positive aspect can be put on something so awful as hate crime but I really feel that a great deal has been achieved this week because of this campaign locally and nationally.

To start with, I was asked to contribute my story to the police website, which can be found here. I spoke to a lady last week and was asked to get my story and message into 300 words or less and this was no mean feat! There was much use of apostrophes and it was incredibly difficult, but I managed it. 

Not long after it went on the website, I was contacted by BBC Radio Somerset. They were particularly interested in my story and felt it would be good to run as an item on their breakfast show. Local radio is a far cry from my usual listening fare of Planet Rock but this felt a good opportunity to help spread awareness of hate crime.

The next day we were visited by a journalist, Rachel, and she had more than one idea in mind. Primarily there was the interview about my recent assault but also they are running an item next week about couples and how their relationships change with time. There can be no better story than a transitioning couple and we agreed to do an interview for that as well. 

We initially talked over the assault and then Rachel started the interview proper. I was surprised at how well I managed to hold up the conversation and together with some input from Mandy, we got more than 13 minutes of recording. We then proceeded to do the other interview and then spent more than an hour talking to Rachel. I think she was gathering information for future reference and I was happy to inform and educate. 

Soon after, Rachel emailed me and said they'd had to cut it a little as 13 minutes was too long. This made me a little apprehensive, was I going to be misrepresented? I was also told it would be aired at 7.05 and 8.05 the next morning. 

Wednesday came and I listened in for the first segment. It was very strange to hear my voice, which can still trigger an element of dysphoria, but I do not think I was too bad. They seemed a little keen to cling on to the physical aspect of transitioning such as mentioning my GRS in January but that was just a side thing. The media do seem hung up on the GRS and birth sex issue, but hey ho, this will change. They broadcast a shortened version initially with another interview from the hate crime lead at Avon and Somerset Police. An hour later was a longer version that went into much more depth. You can find the two broadcasts here and skip to 0.36.00 for the short one with the longer one at 1.36.00. This link stays active until the 12th November 2015.

The typical audience of this station is more mature and this makes interesting thinking as to who it would benefit. Age is of course no barrier to transitioning but the average age is reducing with many more younger people coming forward. However, there will still be older people who may be feeling that they want to deal with their gender issues and if this interview was listened to one single person and helped them, then it would have achieved something. It did have an effect on two people and that was the lady who delivers talking books for Mandy. She had heard it and not even realised it was me until Mandy had started speaking! Her husband had also been moved by it and she expressed that he was not usually an emotional person. She had not even known I was Trans either, so something for the confidence there.

It has also led to that other interview and I am led to believe that the media is starting to move to our side when it comes to representing Trans people properly. It is ironic that this week, Channel 4 have broadcast two awful programs that were wholly obsessed with genitalia and the sexual side of being Trans. This has led to an uproar amongst activists but I am also heartened by all the positive portrayals we have had with this awareness week. I know of several people that have done their own interviews across the country and I am convinced they have far outweighed the damage Channel 4 have done. 

When Rachel left us, she told me to keep in touch. Anything else that I feel may be of use to them, then I am to let her know. I will definitely keep that in mind and will pursue that avenue when I feel it is advantageous to Trans people. Both Mandy and myself have also agreed to do something with them when we get close to the wedding. 

Hate crime is not a nice thing when it happens to you, especially when it gets physical. But this week has shown that it can open doors to new opportunities. Past occurrences have led to me becoming closely involved with the police, and now media sources. By being involved it has also led to coming into contact with other diverse groups who experience the same type of crime. This has helped me be more empathic and respectful of other groups as well as not feeling so alone. It has been a very busy, long and tiring week but I have gained more experiences and possibly new contacts. It can end positively.