In conjunction with Galop and Gaydar Girls, the Metropolitan Police in London have launched a survey on women’s experience of transphobia and homophobia. You may be asked to fill this in if you are visiting an LGBT venue: it is entirely voluntary of course. It is also possible to download the survey and send it in by email – as explained here.
While worthy, the idea of a survey to discover why women don’t report hate crimes seems somewhat strange. If people don’t feel comfortable reporting a crime, are they likely to volunteer to complete a survey? While this may make sense within the lesbian community, it seems to demonstrate somewhat poor understanding of the trans community in which so many are either in the closet or in stealth. Indeed, the whole idea of a gendered survery will be objectionable to many in the trans community. These flaws are compounded by presenting trans in terms of MTF or FTM, terms which only apply to those transsexual people undergoing gender reassignment and wouldn’t, for instance, apply to a TV who experiences transphobia while out as a woman? This feels like a survey that was designed within the LGB community and extended to cover transphobia without real understanding of trans issues. It could reduce the likelihood of trans people reporting crimes to the police and that would be unfortunate as the police are generally more trans aware than this flawed survey suggests.
There are further problems. The question “Are you a disabled person?” is difficult within the trans community. Legally anybody who has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria is disabled according to the definition in the Disability and Discrimination Act, but many TS people do not feel themselves to be disabled. For the trans community the question should therefore have been asked as “Do you consider yourself to be disabled?”
The question, “To what extent are you ‘out’ as a lesbian/gay or bi woman or trans. person?” is also somewhat insensitive. It is one of the key differences between many trans people and lesbians. A non-passing trans person has no choice about being out. An FTM who is awaiting top surgery and still has a large chest may find it impossible to be anything other than out, as may an MTF with a masculine face and heavy beard growth.
The survery isn’t transphobic. There is an intention to do the right thing. But it does forcibly demonstrate a very poor understanding of trans issues. As he intention is to help, it may still be worth completing the survey, but if you feel that the many flaws are evidence of the problem, you may wish to contact the survey organiser to register a complaint – Susan Paterson of the Metropolitan Police at 11th Floor Empress State Building, Lillie Road, London SW6 1TR.