While many magazines and blogs are calling 2014 a massive step forward for transgender rights and visibility, eleven police forces have announced a massive spike in transphobic hate crimes in the UK.
The Metropolitan Police saw that crimes directed at transgender individuals were up by 44% in 2014. There were reports of 95 crimes this year, as opposed to 66 in 2013. They break down into 53 harassment offences, 17 common assaults, seven counts of grievous bodily harm and seven assaults with injury. There were also reports of rape, robbery, burglary and criminal damage. Other forces have recorded incidents varying from verbal abuse and transphobic graffiti to battery and assault.
‘As much as 80% of transphobia is not reported,’ said Serge Nicholson, a member of the charity Galop, which supports LGBT+ people. ‘So the rise in transphobic police recording can be viewed as encouraging, though it leaves us with mixed feelings. One transphobic hate crime is one too many.’
The situation of transgender and other non-binary individuals has come to the attention of the mainstream due to shows like Transparent or Orange is the New Black, the very public cases of Chelsea Manning and CeCe McDonald, as well as the presence of activists like Janet Mock and the late Leslie Feinberg. But many transgender individuals still face discrimination from legal agencies as well as their fellow citizens.
‘A third of trans people in the UK go through transphobic abuse every year,’ Nicholson said. ‘That’s the second highest of any EU country. Yet only a few hundred transphobic crimes get recorded by the police each year. That has got to be a tiny fraction of the true number.’