Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Met forgets that trans people are people.

The issue of the transphobic sexual assault of a trans person by the Met as they tried to protect Wills and kate from unarmed demonstrators more than a mile away from the Royal Wedding has caused outrage amongst trans people.

There appear to be serious problems relating to diversity training for police officers, yet the issue is much deeper than this. The apparent open sexual assault of a trans person was not simply down to training and diversity. It is an issue of how trans people are perceived. The manner of the assault was something which would never have happened to a cisgender individual, no police officer of either gender would considering doing what was done by the squad in Soho Sq yesterday, to a cisgender man or woman. Yet it happened, in effect without thought, because the individual concerned was considered to be transgender.

As such this represents an issue of humanity. It has often been argued that being intelligble as either male of female (by no less a person than Judith Butler amongst others), is a prerequisite to being considered human. In other words, people in our culture generally appear not to accept as a human being, anyone who does not appear to be gendered either male or female. This is probably the root cause of yesterday's assault. The perception that trans people are not people.

This is an issue which goes beyond policing, it is the reason journalists, "comedians", some psychiatrists and even teachers discriminate against trans people; because they do not see trans people as people. In my opinion it is the theme running through Trans Media Watch's Memorandum of Understanding; the desire for trans people to be accorded the respect that is due any human being. It is the reason why some psychiatrists think they can force us to conform, as though they are training a dog or a performing seal, it is one of the reasons why some Rad Fems incite violence and hatred against us. As the Nazis succeeded in doing in the 1930s, dehumanisation carries with it enormous consequences; once a group of people is considered less than human, any treatment becomes possible.

The issue here is about much more than sexual assault. It is about our humanity, a humanity which is still denied to us by a hostile and institutionally transphobic culture.


  1. When we showed TMW's MoU to broadcasters and editors, we found they fell into two groups: those who said they found it all very confusing and those who said "Of course, any reasonable person would agree with all of this." I suspect you have just outlined the reason why. To the latter group it was obvious that trans people, being human, deserved to be treated like any other humans. Many in the former group were trying to get things right but, having failed to grok that humanity, were left flailing around with what felt to them like a disjointed set of rules and principles.

  2. With you all the way on this, Natacha, except for one proviso. I am gradually, er, plodding along on this...talking to those involved, trying to nail down facts and when and where and who.

    Am talking to the Met...and they are having difficulties nailing this internally. I don't think they are fibbing: i think we need to be 100% on board, facts-wise...and if you have spoken to the person(s) assaulted, then fair enough.

    As and when i have further evidence to add, i will. Meanwhile, here's my most up to date info on this:


  3. oh. thought i'd already added this:

  4. Talking with an acquaintance one day trying to explain to her about transsexuality she saw a picture of a trans man in the TG magazine "Frock". She said oh he's so handsome is he a real person? Oh course as soon as she said it she gasped in horror at the words that escaped her mouth.

    Love we are all real people.