Monday, 20 July 2009

Sparkle 09 … Pictures and Policemen

8:30 am and the alarm sounds.





Stockings, bra, panties.


A dress.

Foundation. Powder. Shadow. Liner. Mascara. Rouge. Lipstick. Gloss.



Earrings. Rings.

It’s 10:00 by the time we’re ready for breakfast.

Actually. It’s 10:00 by the time Andrea is ready.

The breakfast is excellent.

Tina decides to wear boots for the morning.

I stick with the low heels.

I like the high ones a lot better. But I remember Sparkle 2008 and the sore feet that accompanied it.

Part way along Portland Street we are reminded of Billie …



At Sackville Park things are beginning to happen.

There’s the volleyball.


And we bump into Cindy … who I met at a Trans Femme party a year ago.

Jae, Tina, Andrea and Cindy:


And the police presence:






And all kinds of girls:





Then back to Canal Street for a little walk:


A couple of girls get up from their seats and ask if they can have a picture taken with us. There’s a whole family group … out relaxing on their dad’s 50th birthday.

This is them … and us:



Really sweet, friendly people. We chat a while.

Then a coffee and we head for the “Self Defence & Staying safe  when out as a Trans Person” session at the Shang Hi Restaurant on Whitworth Street.

In fact, this was mainly Jae’s idea and I wasn’t so interested.

But, I have to admit, it was a really worthwhile hour.

A police trainer from Merseyside police force was leading the discussion, together with an officer from the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) force.

The police in the UK have had a lot of bad press recently.

But not all policemen are the same.

I know ….it’s obvious. But it’s easy to forget.

As the man from Merseyside said … a lot of it is obvious.

Be wary.

Avoid dangerous situations.

Given a choice … ignore people that have nothing better to do then hurl verbal abuse around.

Cross the street.

He says that the best defence most people have is their voice.

Shout enough and most potential attackers will decide to find something else to do.

However … shouting “Fire” really loudly is more likely to attract attention than shouting “Help”.

We learn a sure fire 100% guaranteed way of escaping from a wrist lock. It’s all about toes and nose.

There were many things that were said during the hour that encouraged me a lot. Some of the snippets:

  • A tgirl mentioned that having been verbally abused by people one time, she had mentioned it to a policeman. The response was … “well what do you expect if you dress like that”. The GMP view is that this kind of comment from a police officer is not acceptable. People have no right to verbally abuse transgendered individuals in this way. Police officers that think otherwise need to get better informed.
  • Recently some guys were arrested in Greater Manchester because they verbally abused a guy in a dress. They were astounded that they could be arrested for that and extremely surprised to spend a night in a cell. The Crown Prosecution Service didn’t think the guys had been sufficiently abusive to warrant charges being made against them, but GMP have expressed their own view that this behaviour is totally unacceptable and that charges should be brought against people in these circumstances.
  • Last year GMP only had a couple of incidents of “trans-phobia” reported to them,. However, they know that many more incidents happen and that people just live with it (I remember at sparkle 2008, the piece of banana that was thrown at me … I said nothing to the police). GMP want transgendered people to report any and all incidents of trans-phobia. They view the behaviour as being unacceptable. It is possible to report incidents without having to give personal details . They need to know the scale of the problem and the places where it happens.
  • It isn’t only GMP that take this view … police forces throughout the country have similar policies and aims.

I know, there are people in the world who would say that GMP are too worried about political correctness … that they should be investing more time in solving burglaries than with dealing with weirdo’s. There was a time when I might have thought this.

But, right at this moment, it means a lot to me that the police force are interested in protecting the right of people to be who they feel that they are. And really, that’s all that we want. Just to be ourselves.

I remember sitting at the meeting and being very moved. I felt that these people cared about people and that they wanted to make things change. And that in a situation where a transgendered individual is subject to abuse because of nothing other than their transgendered nature, the police will take the side of the transgendered person. This isn’t about political correctness. It’s about letting people live.

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