Speaking Out

If someone had said to me five, maybe even three years ago, that I would attend two ‘wider community’ police functions in 24 hours as an openly trans woman, I think I would have replied, “You’ve had one too many, please blow into the bag”.

However, in the last few days, I definitely have attended two such functions (alcohol-free so everyone was definitely sober!).

The two functions were the Victoria Police reception with the Jewish community and the launch of the strategy in relation to prejudice-motivated crime. To see people from a range of communities at these functions, including a diverse range of Jewish people at the reception, was a reminder that people can value and celebrate difference.

Understandably, given historical events, many in the Jewish community have fears of those in uniform and to hear about the cooperation of police and the Jewish community on a range of issues was heartening.

Certainly we need more progress combating hate crimes equally across all Victorian communities. I was saddened and shocked last year at the community consultation for the Eames report into hate crimes to hear of other groups, e.g. Islamic, people from the Horn of Africa, who also face hate crimes, yet seemed to be enjoying less support. I hope the launch of the strategy regarding prejudice-motivated crimes can redress that imbalance as part of improvement for all.

It seems only a short while ago that transgender women plucking up the courage to come out would ring TransGender Victoria and ask, “If I go out dressed as a woman will I get arrested? Will the police harass me?” Those questions don’t come up any more.

The good work of the GLLO team and community partners such as the Anti-Violence Project has seen a major change, of which the GLBT community is increasingly aware.

The AVP now also has great links with Jewish and Indian communities. I would really like to see these links broadened and formalised across a range of communities so information can be shared and ideas adapted from one community to the other. A prejudice-motivated crime against one person damages all of society, regardless of the specific attribute being attacked.

Having police working with the GLBT and other diverse communities sends a strong message that prejudice-motivated crime is unacceptable. It can do more — it can be a factor in helping GLBT people feel safe about coming out. That keeps people happier, healthier — and maybe even alive. Let’s do that for everyone.

INFO: Sally Goldner is VGLRL treasurer and TransGender Victoria spokesperson.

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