Herts campaigner says recorded hate crimes on trans people 'massive underestimate'

PUBLISHED: 17:11 28 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:40 01 July 2019

Pride flag. Picture: Pixabay.

Pride flag. Picture: Pixabay.

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A transgender campaigner said the 28 reported hate crimes on trans people in Hertfordshire is a "massive underestimate" of the problem.

The figures, released by the BBC yesterday, show that hate crimes on transgender people increased by 25 per cent between the same period of 2017-18 and 2018-19.

This may be down to the reporting of these crimes increasing, with 21 in 2017-18 and 28 for the same period in 2018-19.

But North Herts-based trans campaigner Jane Fae says that the problem is getting worse, even as reporting is going up.

Ms Fae — who has worked with Herts police on the issue — said that some of what is missing in the statistics is the under-reporting by trans people of crimes against them.

"I can count three against me personally," she said.

"I have been harassed and stalked.

"So when you actually survey the trans community its 60-70 per cent, who have had something happen in the last year or two," she said.

"We just get it all the time."

"It's so commonplace it's difficult to do something about."

Some of the issue, she explains, is that hate instances — which are harassment and slurs being thrown at trans people on the street — are not something the police can do anything about.

"Often hate instances are committed before a hate crime happens," she said, and then it can be much worse for the person affected.

She said that she has heard from lots of trans people in Hertfordshire that are very upset by what they have experienced.

"Two hours ago I got a phone call from someone, who was afraid to leave their house," said Ms Fae when speaking to this newspaper yesterday.

"It's affecting people to the point they're afraid."

But trans women Vittoria Richard has said that she has experienced no mistreatment since moving to St Albans.

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"While living just two miles north in Luton I was spat upon, misgendered and labelled horrible names," said Ms Richard.

"I was terrified."

Michelle Maddison, from Transgender and Non-Binary Support Group Herts, explained the "hate" towards transgender people has always been there.

"The past five plus years has seen greater visibility and understanding due to highly visible representation by the likes of Caitlyn Jenner, Kellie Maloney and Munroe Bergdorf," said Ms Maddison, who is a trans woman.

"[But] with increased visibility comes increased exposure to bigotry and bias."

She added that this atmosphere is causing high rates of attempted suicide, at 47 per cent, and interactions with mental health service (at 80 per cent) among members of the transgender community.

"Things must change as currently the hate crimes and public attitude is literally costing lives," Ms Maddison said.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has welcomed the increase in reported hate crimes on transgender victims.

A spokesman for the force said: "We know that nationally hate crimes, including those committed against transgender people, often go unreported.

"So an increase in the numbers of reports is welcome as it shows that more victims and witnesses are having the confidence to come forward.

"We have worked over recent years to make it easier to report hate crimes, such as through third party reporting centres around the county.

"We want victims to know that if they come forward we can investigate the crime and they can receive support from one of our specialist hate crime officers.

"A hate crime is any criminal offence that is targeted at a person because of hostility or prejudice towards their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity."

If you have been affected by hate crimes or would like to learn more about what is being done in Hertfordshire please check out hertsagainsthate.org.

If you have been a victim of a hate crime, you can report it to police via 101 or at herts.police.uk/Report.

And if you want to do it anonymously or want it done through a third party there is hertsagainsthate.org and report-it.org.uk.

These third parties will pass on your report to police for you so it can be investigated, but in an emergency always dial 999.

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