The UK trans community is under attack — and the mainstream media has blood on its hands
Apparently it is all about free speech: tell that to the trans woman who ends her evening out battered and bloodied
The last three years have seen an unprecedented level of vicious, sensationalist, misleading and outright untrue stories in the press and broadcast media painting trans people as abnormal and a threat. Little wonder that we are now seeing that work its way through into actual physical attacks on trans people going about their lawful business in public.
TW/CW: Extreme violence against trans people. Transmisogyny.
This is not going to be an easy piece to write. Not easy to read either and, seriously, if you are of a sensitive disposition, or just reeling from the hostility of the anti-trans campaigns over the last few years, just don’t!
The sorry truth, though, is that attacks on trans people are on the up. Or, before the transphobes and bigots get to work pushing their alternative agenda, which all too often boils down to “they were asking for it”, reported violent crime against trans people, and trans women in particular, is up across the board in the UK.
Hate by numbers
Let’s start with the overall picture: some basic numbers. Last year, it was reported, that transphobic hate crime had risen by 10%.
This year, the increase has been 16%, to 2,540
There’s been a quadrupling of hate crime and attacks on trans people in the last five years. Or an “81% rise” in the number of transgender hate crimes recorded by police forces in England, Scotland and Wales since 2017
Then there are local hotspots. Like Swindon, where transphobic hate crime has increased by a factor of ten — 1000% — in five years.
And that is just the crime reported to police. According to Stonewall: two in five trans people have experienced a hate crime or incident in the past year.
Hate in denial
Whatever way you look at it, the figures are bad and getting worse. But no, according to the hate apologists, in anti-trans organisations and across the UK media. People are just reporting more hate crimes. Police are getting better at recording them. Absolutely nothing to see here!
The energy that is put into dismantling these figures would power a small city for several months. And it is pathetic: hateful nonsense! Yes, it seems likely that there has been an uptick in reporting. But as Galop makes clear, only about one in seven trans victims of crime will report it to the police. And that, as I know from taking part in this research myself, represents a mix of continuing distrust in the police together with a shrug and a “why bother?”.
Stonewall, too, reports that the number of crimes they are picking up on is on the rise — and that only a proportion of these are reported.
…there are people out there whose entire raison d’être appears to involve minimising any hurt suffered by the trans community. Any reason to question the figures is leapt upon gleefully.
I know the feeling well. I’ve been subject to several potential hate crimes over the past three years. But I have restricted myself to reporting only the most dangerous: the ones that I judged might result in actual harm to myself, or my family.
At the same time, there are people out there whose entire raison d’être appears to involve minimising any hurt suffered by the trans community. Any reason to question the figures is leapt upon gleefully.
These same ghouls were incensed when the BBC’s LGBT correspondent, Ben Hunte had the temerity to report on transphobic hate crime. The attention-seekers turned up to derail and complain about him focussing on this issue. Why hadn’t he reported on LGB hate crime? Except, he had!
Hate is real
But hate crimes are about more than numbers.
I keep an eye on trans and trans-related news for Trans Media Watch and I have been greatly concerned by the slow but steady increase in cases of trans people being assaulted while going about their everyday business. Sometimes there is some obvious prelude. Other times, not.
Trans woman Anna Montgomery assaulted while out for drinks with her boyfriend
Transgender woman speaks out after being attacked in Belfast city centre
Police are treating an alleged assault on a woman in Belfast city centre as a hate crime. Anna Montgomery, who is…
(this is an embedded image taken from sources in which Anna appears to have spoken voluntarily: if anyone knows Anna and she would rather her photo not be used, please contact)
For instance, transgender woman Anna Montgomery, 20, of Newtownards, County Down was just out for the evening with her boyfriend when, she told local press: “…while we were having a few drinks I was assaulted at my table. I was suddenly hit in the face.”
In Southampton, police reports that without any provocation, a man spat on and punched a transgender woman after hurling verbal abuse at her.
In Sandy, just a few miles down the road from where I live, a trans man was verbally abused and threatened with a knife in a transphobic attack.
In Manchester, a transgender woman and her friends were subject to a transphobic attack in the middle of Manchester city centre. A male friend who attempted to intervene was assaulted.
Hate has consequences
I could go on. And if I did, what then from the transphobes? No doubt they’d claim it is coincidence. Perhaps local papers have just decided to start reporting on this stuff. Because, strangely, while the national press cannot wait to publish any story that shows trans people in a bad light, most of these stories never find their way outside the local circuit where they first appear.
…I am very sensitive to the pace and frequency of this stuff. I know it is on the rise. And I know too that hate crime has an impact that must be measured in far more than broken bones.
But doing the work I do, I am very sensitive to the pace and frequency of this stuff. I know it is on the rise. And I know too that hate crime has an impact that must be measured in far more than broken bones. Here, I fear, I must “weaponise” suicide, as the transphobes would have it. And of course, no suicide is down to just one thing.
Still, I lost a good friend, a trans guy, to suicide last Christmas. He took his life following a series of bad events in his life. But talking to people who knew him well, a consensus emerged: that following an assault as he returned home one night, he had not been the same. He had become fearful. Withdrawn. And in the end, they concluded, those things weighed heavily in his decision to end it.
The press has much to answer for
And I do blame the press and the haters who spend their days playing nice as pie when invited on to “debate” what they call trans “issues” (never transphobic issues, or trans people). I have commented before on one group, regularly entertained by the BBC, whose members proudly went out on the streets of Manchester urging bikers and taxi drivers to stand up for women and the “safety” of “little girls” against trans people.
I mean, I’d like to think that if I were part of a group that was as careless of my rhetoric around black or gay people, or women, our premier broadcaster would be a little bit more wary of platforming me. But when it comes to trans people, there is, seemingly, no issue.
But you don’t have to get out on to the streets to find this sort of rhetoric. Not when papers like the Times are running opinion pieces that talk of children “sacrificed” to the trans lobby. Or implying that trans and LGB folks are just that bit soft when it comes to safeguarding. Paedophile? Heaven forfend! As if anyone would presume to make such an allegation directly.
just as anti-gay campaigners did back in the 80s and 90s, the narrative being actively peddled by a range of writers is clear: “we’re not saying that trans folks ARE perverts and abusers. We just have ‘concerns’.
“Surely, no one can object to us having concerns?”
Well, perhaps Rod Liddle might: for here he is in the Spectator back in 2015, writing about a trans guy: “One day the chill wind of Odin will blow down from the icy north and cleanse our nation of all purulence and disease.”. Excuse my naivety, but that looks very like wishing harm on trans folk, couched in far right imagery.
But just as anti-gay campaigners did back in the 80s and 90s, the narrative being actively peddled by a range of writers is clear: “we’re not saying that trans folks ARE perverts and abusers. We just have ‘concerns’.
Surely, no one can object to us having concerns?”
Except, concern, when it is founded on little more than a desire to stir hatred, has consequences. It enrages and emboldens. It gives to those less subtle in their hatred a license to go out and do harm. And they do so, in ever greater numbers.
For which reason, it is no exaggeration to talk of mainstream media having blood on their hands. Trans people are being hurt this week, today, the length and breadth of the UK. And a small but vocal bunch of journalists have a lot to answer for.
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