Friday, 4 June 2010

Speaking Out in Queensland

From the ABC:
Majority of harassed gays suffer in silence
Especially if they're not Gay, but Trans.
A new study has found persecution of those who do not fit the heterosexual norm is rife in Queensland.

A survey of 1,100 homosexual, bisexual and transgendered people found the overwhelming majority had been harassed or abused and most are suffering in silence.
The gay-hate study found abusers are usually young men who do not know their victim and 75 per cent of victims do not report the incidents to authorities.

Dr Berman says people suffer in silence for a host of reasons.

"Sixteen per cent do not believe their report would be dealt with fairly, 9 per cent feared further violence or discrimination and 8 per cent feared being outed," he said.

Even though the latest study examines Queensland, Dr Berman says gay hate crimes are common Australia-wide.

He says smaller studies in Victoria and New South Wales delivered similar results and it is time the matter is taken seriously.

Key survey results:

Received verbal abuse:

  • 76 per cent of males
  • 69 per cent of females
  • 92 per cent transgender male to female
  • 55 per cent transgender female to male

Physical assault without a weapon:

  • 32 per cent of male
  • 15 per cent of females
  • 46 per cent transgender male to female
  • 45 per cent transgender female to male

Physical attack with a weapon, knife, bottle or stone:

  • 12 per cent of males
  • 6 per cent of females
  • 38 per cent transgender male to female
  • 9 per cent transgender female to male
  • 12 per cent other

Source - AAP/Speaking Out: Stopping Homophobic and Transphobic Abuse in Queensland.

Think about that. Can anyone imagine any other minority group in a civilised, western country where 38% - over one in three - have been physically assaulted - usually be strangers - "with a weapon, knife, bottle or stone"? And nearly half having been assaulted using punches and kicks? Can anyone imagine this not being front-page news if it was revealed?

It's reasonable to say that the sample size is small: but then, so is the Universal Set, the set of all MtoF people in Queensland.

The saddest thing? Australia is one of the more trans-friendly countries in the world. Most other places are worse.

As for me... I've not been a victim of an attack, verbal or otherwise. Well, not in the FtoM category, anyway. The trigger for me deciding to abandon any further attempts to retain a male social role was in July, 2005. When I was accosted by some drunks on my way to work from where I'd parked the car. They called me a "Butch Dyke" and a "Drag King", and threatened to "Convert" me.

So I'd be in the 69% of "gay" females enduring verbal abuse instead.

While I might not identify as "transgendered", and certainly not "gay" or even "lesbian"... I don't have the privilege of deciding that. Not even in books describing how those like me are attacked.

It helps to have a sense of humour about such things. And to be prepared to use a carkey to put an attacker's eyes out. To be afraid enough to be safe, but not so terrified as to stop living a reasonably normal life.

Looking back on it... I should have reported it to the Police, shouldn't I? It never occurred to me to do so. What would I say? "Hi, I appear to be in the middle of a natural change from male to female that no-one understands and..."

I'd do that today. But I was so disorientated, going through Hormone Hell, not knowing what was happening or if this was survivable, my whole life turning upside-down, that I wasn't thinking clearly. It didn't seem that way, but obviously I was trying to retain some shred of sanity in a Universe gone crazy, and I just didn't have time for trivia like that.

Trans and Intersexed people are too accepting too. Usually since childhood, we have to face the fact that that's the way things are. We have no standard for comparison, we don't realise (except as more than an intellectual abstraction) that this is not normal. All of us being attacked or threatened verbally? Well yes, of course, you can't be thin-skinned about that or you'd kill yourself (but half of us do, don't we?). Nearly half of us attacked, often with weaponry? Well, you just have to be careful, don't you. Besides which, how many women get raped? (But comparatively few by random strangers using weapons)

It's sometimes difficult to realise that not everyone is in this situation. That to many, there's a credibility gap, they don't believe that in a normal, civilised society, anyone could be treated this way.

Believe it.


Nicole said...

With respect to why many of these crimes go unreported, my mind always instantly thinks of the Surry Hills Police in Sydney and the two officers that thought it would be amusing to inform a man in custody that his girlfriend was really a guy and a NSW Politician supporting that action that lead to that woman's bashing.

A couple of things thought, I've been the recipient of verbal abuse, I'm still not sure how bad it would have to be to report it to the Police, but it's only now that I am comfortable with the knowledge that I'm transsexual that I would approach the Police and follow through with any complaints of harassment, discrimination, vilification or violence. I've seen many trans people in earlier stages of transition not want to report things because they were trying to live in stealth. If only they knew that extremely few of us really are. So maybe it's only when you are of the understanding that you are transsexual and are comfortable with that, that you might report these crimes?

Also, you have to look at who you are reporting this to. My partner and I recently realised how many conservatively non-thinking people that we knew that were school teachers. We realised it was a profession that attracted conservative people because it is clearly a job with a lot of rules to follow, and it involves enforcing rules on other people. It involved being controlled yourself and also an element of controlling others. We began thinking of other professions that would also attract conservative people and quickly came up with the Police.

The point being that if Police Officers were a bit more progressive, perhaps we'd feel comfortable talking to them?

Hazumu Osaragi said...

The other thing is that the people I spend the most time with, the people at work, don't want the world to be that way. And as they're not beating me up or shouting epithets or snubbing me or sabotaging my work (let's not start on microagressions or microinsults or microerasure,) then it must not be happening so what am I worrying about. So you can't even *begin* to have a conversation about it.

Anonymous said...

Considering all the violence we are subjected to and the hyper vigilance needed I am surprissed that so many of us are bashed. I would expect more of us to be capable of defending ourselves.

Not going to be a victim.