Posts tagged hate crime

Paddy Power: the real bill arrives

So the Paddy Power ad campaign is all just a bit of fun? Just for laughs?

Sadly, the evidence already beginning to come in is just the opposite – and pretty much in line with fears expressed at the supposedly more “alarmist” end of the spectrum. Read the rest of this entry »

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The day it changes…

T-day. Transition day. The day it all changes. After today nothing will be the same. Even if, on the surface, all is still the same.

Because today is the day when the UK’s press and media will finally, forcefully, be asked to face up to their awful responsibility for the hate and bigotry they foment on a daily basis. Read the rest of this entry »

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Difficult issues: “special treatment” over trans hate crime

I know this is going to be controversial.

Its going to be controversial because some folk don’t much distinguish between writing ABOUT something and taking a stance on the issue. And OK: i guess i do have views on some of the issues i am planning to raise.

But equally, the point of these posts is not so much to argue one or other side as to highlight the fact that an issue exists and to look for ways of tapping a political consensus around it.

Because (whisper it low) i’m a practical sort of girl: and i am as much – more – interested in making a series of incremental gains as holding out for utopia.

The trans issue

There is a quote – i’m sure i’ve got this not quite right – allegedly attributed to Gandhi, which goes roughly like this: “First they ignore: then they mock; then they attack; and finally, we win”.

(Winning, in that sense, is more than just “getting one’s way”: it is really about reaching that point where some spin, some questions are beyond respectable expression…like slavery, or the idea that women belong in the home).

Give or take a few stages, that feels not bad as analysis of how change comes about.

For a long time, trans hovered between the first two of those categories: either studiously ignored, or simply the butt of lewd and crude humour.

Over the last decade, that’s changed. We’re in the news Far more than ever before. There’s a fair bit of crudity still around. But equally there is the beginning of realisation, in some quarters, that that humour is no longer acceptable.

So a moment of choice has been reached: and some papers are now beginning to exhibit a grudging respect – while others are taking refuge in an ever more strident trans hatefest. Oh: never explicit: but spinning, questioning, positioning so that trans folk look to be receiving special treatment.

What do we do when the haters have a point?

A major problem in this respect turns up when there is a genuine question to be asked about some claim or gain. Not every challenge to a presumed legal or political advance is motivated by outright bigotry. Indeed, where this finds an echo in the general public, it is essential that minority groups engage with the debate – and not simply dismiss it as enmity.

For that reason (and i do this with some trepidation) i want to enumerate some of the difficult issues: not to resolve them; but to spark debate within the trans community and to get some sense of whether it is possible to find common ground with critics.

Extra sentences for trans crime?

For openers, i’ll toss in the recent announcement of additional sentencing for trans hate crime.

From the local playground, where i chat often to mums and therefore get to take the temperature of one segment of society on topical issues, i can report that this does not, immediately, do the trans community much good.

There is a definite sense of special treatment and, while most mums buy into the idea that trans folk suffer appalling abuse and violence, they still don’t see why there should be different treatment in law.

The press release that sets this trail in motion states explicitly that there should be no tolerance for hate crime: and then, by implication, allows different tariffs for different sorts of hate crimes.

I have argued elsewhere that anti-discrimination laws based on specific protected characteristics are a bad idea: divisive and discriminatory, as opposed to hepful.

In this instance, there is a danger that the approach could create he very antagonism it seeks to end. Is there an alternative?

In the scheme of things, how inmportant is different sentencing for perpetrators of trans hate crimes.

Over to you.


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why “trannies” shouldn’t apologise

Now here’s a chilling thought, as the trans community prepares to commemorate our not inconsiderable roll call of dead – murdered, mostly, by fuckwits who can’ t see beyond the label – on our own day of remembrance: the very last word a victim will have heard, out of all the words in the dictionary, is more likely to have been “tranny” than any other.

Can I “prove” that? Of course not! It just happens that early in my transition, when I was so much more obviously trans, the word i heard most often as ordinary everyday term of abuse was “tranny”. On about half the occasions when the threat level escalated to the point where i felt in real danger of violence, the ‘bon mot’ of choice by the aggressor was “tranny”.

Talking to trans friends in the UK the picture is much the same. It may be “just a word” for 99% of the population: but for us it is something else. I don’t think it exaggeration to suggest it is to the trans community what the swastika is to Jews, the uniform of the KKK to the black American community.

That’s why we object to it. More: that’s why there is a sense of community “ownership” of the word. Why, to the irritation of not a few non-trans commenters, we both condemn its use…then spray it around on programmes like trans summer.

Worse: when called on our supposed inconsistency, we bloody trannies have the effrontery to assert that its “our” word. That only WE get to decide when to use it, when its offensive.

Huh? Unreasonable? Much. But very understandable. There is a very real sense that we have paid – many times over – in blood for that word.

It’s a bit like…oh, imagine if u will, a bunch of town planners wanting to relocate a battlefield war monument. They may have every reasonable reason for doing so. But I suspect all the reasonableness in the world wouldn’t go far to impress the vets who fought there, whose comrades died there…

It’s a shame. Without the history, “tranny” is quite a nice word: rhythmically light, ever so slightly cuddly. That’s why many trans folk still use it, with friends, when they can be sure its not abuse, threat or harbinger of danger.

Which is why it confuses the broader public. Why, in general, we fight and fight to exclude it from disrespectful media headlines…then go home and laugh about it. Why, too, its use continues to divide.

That’s a pity. As Sarah from TMW said yesterday: surely we have better things to argue about? Er, yes. And no.

As hate token, it remains something worth fighting against. But for all that, I suspect the battle is lost and – unexpected consequence of trans summer – we will have to accept now its wider use?

why? Because the terms of debate have shifted. Subtly. But shifted all the same. The perspective has changed, the focus on a different question, which is not “why use the t-word, when it causes so much grief”, but “why can’t we use the word when you do all the time?”

The answer, as above, is pretty clear. But I think now its distraction. Sometimes, the mark of the good strategist is to know when to abandon a particular fight as not worth the aggro.

We may just have reached that point over “tranny”.


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