Friday, 1 October 2010

Exemplifying the Problem

From Transgender Europe:
The 3rd European Transgender Council, organized by Transgender Europe in conjunction with a local organizing team in Malmoe brings together more than 200 activists from 35 different countries.

The largest European Human rights event on transgender issues deals among other topics with hate crimes and violence faced by gender variant people. In the last 30 months 33 transgender people were reported of being murdered in Europe according to TGEU's TvT-project. 79% of trans people are subject to negative comments, harassment, physical and sexual abuse and violence according to the European Hate Crime Study published by Press for Change last year.
Yes, well, statistics are suspect. Surely the problem can't be that severe?
In the night of September 30th two delegates from Turkey of the Third European Transgender Council were attacked by a group of five to seven people when leaving a restaurant. The trans activists have been harassed verbally and subject to physical violence.

“There is no safe space for transgender people in Europe. Last night's attack showed once more that transphobia and racism are not only a problem of certain countries in Europe. Transphobia is everywhere”, says TGEU Vice chair Julia Ehrt.
Ah. Maybe it is.

I don't identify as an "Activist". But as one woman said to me, as we were discussing my appearance on a Radio show, "You're forced to be". For yourself. And, it must be said, for the children now being born, so they don't face the same kind of used food that you did.

Things are better now. But they need to be better still. I can't help the girl I was back in the 70's - she survived alright, did pretty well all things considered, in fact; but she hurt. And many like her did not survive, let alone prosper.

So here am I, a conservative, prim, and in many ways a private person, not given to rocking the boat, certainly not involved with anything remotely outre or unusual - and I have to help. Not out of altruism, I have too much insight into myself to think I'm saintly. But for the girl I was. An Activist for the working day, if only to dry her tears, and tell her that things are going to be alright.

Maybe a little altruism too. She was always like that, you see.

UPDATE via Bird of Paradox, an account by one of the victims:
we were entering a restaurant when this group of guys started harrassing us worbaly [sic], we couldnt really understand what they were saying as they were speaking swedish. but they kepted shooting [sic] and making hand signs when we entered the restaurant. it was really obvious that they were disturbed that we were trans and foreigners. we didnt really give any attention to them, and after a few more minutes of shouting they left. we left the restaurant after 15-20 min, and found out that they were waiting for us outside by the next building.
they kepts shouting, the only word we could understand was “sexy”. then they throw an egg to Selay, and another egg to Sema, hitting her in the face really hard. one guy picked the broken egg from the floor and put it again in Selay’s face. then the guys run away going in different streets.

we asked the market guy to call the police, and he refused. 2 girls passing by called the police, and the police came around in half an hour. 2 other girls which we saw before in the party were telling us that “malmö is not like this” which didnt really made sense right after what we have lived.

we told the police what happened and also told them that we want this to be recorded as a transphoobic and a xenophobic attack.

the police droped [sic] us in the hotel, and for now we are fine.
It could have been a lot worse. For many, it is. But think about it - for those readers of this blog who are not, well, weird like me. How many of you would have an initial reaction to having someone you know - a friend, a colleague - waiting outside a restaurant to attack them as being "well, it could be worse"? How many would expect as a matter of course that the proprietor would refuse to call the police?

I have to remind myself sometimes that this is not "normal" for most people. That what happens to us in incidents like this is not natural, or inevitable - or acceptable - just because so much worse happens sometimes.

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