12. Transphobic abuse, harassment and bullying

Many trans people and those who do not conform to gender norms report experiencing discrimination. This may be because of deliberate and overt treatment, or it may be the result of insensitivity and ignorance. Discrimination has a serious impact, not only on a person’s health and happiness, but also on their performance in study and at work.  Some people may experience discrimination on multiple grounds, for example on the basis of their ethnicity as well as their gender identity.

People whose appearance does not conform to binary gender norms may be more vulnerable to harassment than those who successfully ‘pass’ as male or female. Persistently ‘accidentally’ addressing an individual with the wrong name or pronoun might be experienced as harassment by the person concerned. People who are perceived to be transgender, including those who are intersex, are protected from bullying and harassment, whether or not the perception is true.

A person associated with someone who undergoes gender reassignment (e.g. a partner or friend) is protected against discrimination on the grounds of that association.

The University recognises the right of every individual to choose whether to be open about their gender identity and history. Any unlawful discriminatory behaviour, including transphobic harassment or bullying by individuals or groups, will be regarded extremely seriously and could be grounds for disciplinary action, which may include expulsion or dismissal. Such behaviour will be dealt with under the University Policy on Harassment and Bullying: www.admin.ox.ac.uk/eop/harassmentadvice.

Transphobia

Transphobia is discrimination, harassment and bullying or hate crime experienced by trans people (or those associated with them) on the grounds of their gender identity and/or expression.

To ‘out’ someone – whether staff or student – without their permission is a form of harassment and possibly a criminal offence. 

Transphobia includes transmisogyny, a term used for prejudice, discrimination and violence directed at trans women and transfeminine people due both to their trans status and their womanhood or femininity.

Examples of transphobia include:

  • Making derogatory jokes;
  • Unacceptable or unwanted behaviour;
  • Asking intrusive questions: “So what surgery have you had?”
  • Deliberately ignoring someone’s preferred pronoun: “He/she/whatever …”, or failing to use “they” when asked to do so by someone who is non-binary;
  • Speculating openly about their gender: “Is that a man or woman?”
  • Unlawfully disclosing their trans history: “Oh, yes, he used to be a woman”;

Misuse of information about gender transition contravenes the University Policy on Data Protection and may be a criminal offence under the Gender Recognition Act.

Reporting transphobia within the University

Speaking to a Harassment Advisor is a good place to start. The University has a network of approximately 370 Harassment Advisors in departments and colleges, including six who are LGB. Talking through the events and your feelings with the advisor will help you decide on the best way to address the behaviour and clarify the options open to you.

See: www.admin.ox.ac.uk/eop/harassmentadvice

Further information on the Harassment Advisor Network, including the names of LGB Advisors: www.admin.ox.ac.uk/eop/harassmentadvice/advisornetwork

Reporting transphobic hate crime outside the University

If you experience or witness transphobic hate crime in the local community, it is important to report this. You may do so anonymously. Reporting incidents helps the Police, local councils and housing associations, for example, to build up a picture of your local community and take action to prevent abuse. You will also be able to get the help and support you need.

Police The Thames Valley Police have a number of police officers who have had special training in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, the LAGLOs (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Liaison Officers).  You can call 101 and ask to speak to a LAGLO, or ask for one to be informed and to assist you.  Some LAGLOs have also had training on domestic abuse:
  • Dial 101
  • In an emergency, dial 999
Hate Crime Network  Victims and witnesses of a hate crime who don’t feel comfortable reporting it to the Police can report it to the Hate Crime Network:
True Vision  Report it to True Vision, a national hate crime reporting website:http://report-it.org.uk/homophobic_and_transphobic_hate_crime

Domestic abuse in the LGBT community

Domestic abuse in the LGBT community may be inadequately recognised and reported. It is often hard for abuse victims to seek support since they may not wish to reveal their gender identity or sexuality to police or other organisations.

Further information is available from:

Reducing the Risk www.reducingtherisk.org.uk/cms/content/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-community 
LGBT+ Oxfordshire www.lgbtoxon.uk/domestic-abuse
Stonewall Housing For LGBT people who are at risk of forced marriage: www.stonewallhousing.org/insights/post/article.120.html