Students come together on Transgender Day of Remembrance


Durham Constabulary’s Police and Crime commissioner released a letter, last week, congratulating the LGBT+ community on a successful Transgender Day of remembrance whilst emphasising the importance of both the police and the wider community in supporting the LGBT community.

Police and Crime commissioner, Ron Hogg, was keen to express his support for the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which was held on Friday 20th November 2015, in a letter sent to Durham Pride.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance saw attendees playing musical instruments, singing songs and reading poetry. A butterfly displays a list of names of all the transgender individuals who had been killed this year.

President of Durham University LGBT+a, Joanna Gower, told Palatinate:

“It was so heart-warming to see so many people, both LGBTQ+ and allies, going out of their way to pay their respects to such a marginalised and persecuted group.

“The service was beautiful.”

The LGBT+a community is an umbrella term for a variety of groups, not just for those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, but also including those who are genderqueer, pangender and asexual, among many others.

Commissioner Hogg also emphasised his desire for the Durham police department to do as much as it could to support the LGBT community, prevent “hate crime” and “increase confidence for individuals to report these appalling crimes before it was too late, instead of suffering in silence.”

He suggested the introduction of an LGBT helpline, working alongside voluntary sector organisers to ensure that people who are victims of hate crimes can feel confident about feeling supported.

In response to  Commisioner Hogg’s letter, told Palatinate: “Outward displays of support for the trans community are so rare it was reassuring to see that Durham police were aware of the situation of the trans community and were publicly showing that they do not accept transphobia and violence in County Durham.”

LGBT officer for Josephine Butler college, Max Healey, argued that an LGBT helpline may be a possible solution in encouraging members of the LGBT community, who have been victims of hate crime, to speak out.

He told Palatinate: “A LGBT helpline or an LGBT branch of Nightline may possibly increase rates of people coming forward because it is highly likely that members of the LGBT+ community would feel more at ease talking to someone who may empathise more, rather than, for example, a police officer who may not be as sensitive to the situation.”

Joanna conceded that although a helpline would have benefits for the victims of hate in the LGBT community, it would need to be well publicised .

She said: “To reduce the rates of homophobic and transphobic violence there will need to be a lot more education in schools about different types of relationships and an embracing and respecting of people’s differences.

“(The LGBT helpline) has not been publicised to students to the best of my knowledge.”

Alongside initiatives provided by Durham Police and voluntary organisations to encourage victims in the LGBT+ community, Max Healey also said that the role of LGBT+ officers at Durham University colleges provides a fundamental platform of support for the communities which they serve.

He told Palatinate: “LGBT+ reps between colleges collaborate with each other and plan inter-collegiate mixers, which may provide an opportunity to socialise on a less intimidating level, and we all share our ideas for any kind of new events, such as LGBT+ film nights.

“It is important to show an LGBT presence as well, so that members of this community feel represented, and that there is someone who can give you advice or someone you can talk to about anything from Durham’s scene to coming out.”

As a member of the LGBT community himself, Max said that he had personally felt a welcoming environment since being at Durham University.

“I personally was pleasantly surprised at how little discrimination or prejudice I have encountered here.

“I  have had no problems at all and I think the more I go through life, the more I realise that, actually, people only really care about you for you and whether you are in fact L, G, B, T or + becomes irrelevant.”

Photograph: George Larcher – Creative Commons

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