Personal Security for transgender, transsexual and Crossdressers
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No one can ‘tell you’ what you should do, but you should be aware of risks and make an informed choice when you next go out.
Transgender people often – due to fears of being ‘found out’ – go out at night alone and travel long distances by car to remote clubs, pubs and hotels. The ‘link’ with the sex trade can also mean that transgender people can become victims of sexual assaults or worse!
However, transgender people can take some simple steps to reduce their chances of being a victim of crime:
Important initial steps!
- Check doors and windows are locked at night, when going out – this may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many transpeople can with all the excitement of ‘going out dressed’ forget the simplest things!
- Don’t walk home alone late at night. Think ahead and arrange to stay with a trusted friend or pre-book a taxi in advance.
- Never leave drinks unattended in pubs or clubs. If you suspect your drink has been spiked, contact a member of staff or tell a trusted friend!
- Don’t show off your cash, mobile phone, or leave them lying around.
- Always lock doors, windows, the boot and sunroof when leaving your car, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Imagine your car being stolen and being stranded miles from home crossdressed!
- Never leave belongings in your car – even an old coat could tempt a thief if they think there might be something valuable in the pockets.
Your chance of being a victim of crime is at its lowest level for more than 20 years, but transpeople should not be complacent. If they follow basic crime prevention advice they can reduce the chance of being marred by crime!
This is a contentious issue and arguably a rather delicate one to address!
At what point do you tell someone you meet that you are trans?
Do you wait until they develop a crush on you and then say something hoping by then it won’t matter?
Do you tell them straight away and risk the ‘cold-shoulder’?
Or do you flirt in a club and on the walk home explain?
This you can only decide for yourself, but it can be a very dangerous business! As the case study below well illustrates!
Gwen Araujo Memorial Transgender Education Fund
On the first anniversary of Gwen Araujo’s brutal murder in Newark, California, Horizons Foundation created a fund that would reduce the ignorance and hatred that caused this terrible hate-crime in the Bay Area.
On October 3, Gwen Araujo, an attractive 17-year-old with a radiant smile and a zest for life, went to a party in Newark, California. She drank a fair amount of beer. She flirted with 24-year-old Jose Merel, a boy she had something of a crush on. She had anal sex with him, and perhaps with Jose’s friend, 22-year-old Michael Magidson, as well. Maybe something about the sex suggested to Jose or to Michael that there was something different about Gwen. For some reason, Jose’s brother’s girlfriend, Nicole Brown, followed or took Gwen into the bathroom where she discovered that, biologically speaking, Gwen wasn’t a girl at all.
“It’s a man; let’s go!” Nicole called out… and all hell broke loose.”
Gwen was knocked to the floor, her skirt pulled up. Jose was the first to attack her, but Michael and 19-year-old Jaron Nabors quickly joined in. Someone asked for a knife and Jaron offered the knife from his pocket. Gwen was stabbed and gashed in the face. Jose and Michael then dragged semi-conscious Gwen into a garage where Gwen was strangled with a rope. The two boys later put Gwen’s body in the back of Michael’s truck and, together with Jaron, drove 150 miles into the Sierra Nevada foothills, where they dug a hole and buried Gwen’s body, still bound hand and foot and wrapped in a sheet.
For almost two weeks, no one at the party said anything to police about what had happened, although dark rumors circulated that eventually got back to Gwen’s frantic mother and aunt. On October 16, Jaron Nabors contacted Newark police and took them to where Gwen’s body was buried. Jose, Michael, and Jaron were arrested and charged with murder. Since California is one of five states that include gender identity as a hate crime category, the three were charged with committing a hate crime as well.
Risks when Driving
Ensure that you have sufficient petrol for the journey, and keep valuables out of sight. Don’t leave your handbag on the passenger seat where it can be snatched!
Plan your journey in advance, try not to ask for directions en route.
Keep car doors closed & locked, apart from the drivers door.
Avoid eye contact with other drivers at traffic lights or junctions. Leave space from the car in front so that you can get away if it breaks down, or is involved in an accident.
- If a car travels alongside at the same speed slow down slightly and let it pass.
- If a car pulls out in front of you and forces you to stop, lock the drivers door & reverse back as far as possible, turn on your hazard lights and sound your horn.
- Learn about defensive driving skills and use them to avoid the situation developing.
- Do not get out of the car. Lock the drivers door and ensure the window is closed, try to keep moving if at all possible.
- Do not match aggression with aggression. Try to diffuse the situation. Keep cool and calm, do not respond or answer back and avoid eye contact.
- If you have to stop leave as much space as possible between you and the car in front, so that you can still maneuver away should you be enclosed from behind.
- Before setting out back to the car ensure you have your keys handy.
- Always park in well lit areas – if it’s daylight think what the area will be like when it’s dark.
- Never park near a skip, a deep doorway, or alleyway. It’s the ideal place for a criminal to hide.
- Check out the car as you approach it, has it been tampered with? Is there anyone hiding on the back seat?
If you breakdown
- If on a motorway – Get onto the hard shoulder, and try to stop near a emergency phone. Even if you cannot speak or hear lift the handset anyway. Calls identify themselves at the response center .
- If using your own phone quote the number on the nearest 1/10 mile marker post, or if you can see one the reference number of an emergency phone. Be sure the person you are speaking to knows the direction you are (or were!) traveling in. If not on a motorway ensure they know where you are.
- Use your hazard lights, at night do not leave your headlights on, just side lights.
- Always keep away from the offside of the vehicle, keep to the nearside as much as possible.
- If the car is in danger of being hit do not stand in a position where it can be shunted & hit you too. Turn the front wheels slightly into the curb.
Don’t leave the keys in the car, ensure that you leave the drivers door unlocked, so that you can get back in quickly if you need to.
When help arrives, check that they know your name. Some breakdown operators drive up and down looking for private customers.
- Try to leave any venue with friends.
- If you leave with someone you’ve just met – introduce them to someone you know or staff.
- Make sure the person you’re leaving with knows others are aware you are leaving together.
- Trust your instincts. If you think something is wrong, remove yourself from the situation.
- Stay alert – awareness is your best self- defence. Know what and who is around you at all times, especially if walking in unfamiliar streets.
- Project confidence – walk as if you know where you’re going. Don’t walk alone – especially if you are upset, drunk or high.
- Be aware of potentially dangerous places – badly lit streets, dense bushes, alleyways, hidden doorways etc.
- Attackers expect a passive victim – carry a personal attack alarm. Keep it accessible and use it if you encounter trouble. Try to attract attention.
- What would you do if trouble occurred? Preparing for all possibilities could provide a split second advantage.
- If you feel threatened or unsafe, trust you’re instincts and leave.
- If you see someone being harassed or hear a personal attack alarm, respond – help them or call for help.
- Be bold – don’t hesitate to shout. Attract attention.
- Harassment is often a prelude to assault. If you decide to answer back, be prepared for any consequences that may happen.
- Stay calm and try do de-escalate the situation.
- If all attempts to de-escalate or escape fail – remember you are your most important person. Only you can decide whether to fight back. A person who is being attacked has every right to defend him/herself using reasonable force. An umbrella, car keys, a comb are examples of items carried which could be used against an attacker. The law doesn’t, however, allow items to be carried especially for self-defence, such as knives, clubs or customised objects.
- If you’re harassed in any way – verbal insults, vandalism, physical assault, etc., record the details of the incident and report it to any police station.
- If you receive abusive or obscene telephone calls – hang up immediately. Don’t say anything; an emotional reaction is what the caller wants. Consider reporting the matter to the police or seek advice from the phone company advice line.
If you hear a personal attack alarm or calls for help, determine where the sound is coming from. Dial 999 and, if you’re in sight of the attack, use your own personal attack alarm and yell. The purpose is not to physically intervene but to scare off attackers.
Think about everything you are witnessing for the police report. Make notes if you can.
- If you’re the victim of an incident, call the police – dial 999 and report the incident. It’s vital to report quickly what has happened and you can do this in complete confidence. Don’t be afraid to contact the police. They need your help to track down the perpetrator as soon as possible and stop them claiming more victims.
- If you want to pass on info, but don’t want police contact, a remote reporting unit can be a confidential go-between. If you’ve been assaulted – don’t shower, wash or change your clothes. If you do you may be destroying vital evidence.
- Don’t drink alcohol or take other drugs. You’ll need to give a clear account.
- Try to put down on paper a description of the attacker(s) and the incident. If your keys are stolen, with I.D. of where you live – don’t return home alone.
- If you share your house, call home and let them know. Replace your front door locks.
- Consider asking a friend to be with you.
Call Victim Support – they can help with referral to counselling, confidential documenting of the assault, legal advice and the police.
Victim Support is the independent charity which helps people cope with the effects of crime. We provide free and confidential support and information to help you deal with your experience.
As the laws and systems affecting victims and witnesses differ across the UK and Ireland, there are separate Victim Support websites for:
Transgender Zone’s Top 12 Points for you to remember!!!
KNOW THE RISK
Most muggings and assaults happen outside pubs and clubs, between 10pm and 6am. When you’re out on the town – especially if you’re having a big night – be careful.
MIND YOUR MOBILE
When you’re on the street – especially if you’re texting – be alert and make it brief. Keep your phone off the table in cafes and bars too. If your phone is stolen, immobilise it (call your network or 08701 123 123).
CAREFUL AT CASHPOINTS
There are many scams and techniques, so always be aware of who’s around you. Try not to use cashpoints at night, but if you must, go with a friend, and avoid deserted or poorly-lit areas. And don’t hang about once you’ve got your money out. NEVER write down your PIN
Robbers look for easy targets. If you are returning home late at night, walk in a group or take a taxi. If you go out together, come home together.
WALK ON BY
Avoid confrontation. It’s better – and safer – to walk away if you’re being hassled or provoked.
If you regularly go jogging or cycling, stick to well-lit roads and consider varying your routine. If you wear a personal stereo, remember that you can’t hear traffic, or somebody approaching from behind you.WATCH YOUR BAG
Carry your bag close to you with the clasp facing inwards or strap it over your shoulder. If someone grabs your bag, let it go. Your safety is more important than your property.
Have your keys ready well before you reach the door. And carry them on you, if possible, not in your bag.
If you think you’re being followed, cross the road to see if they follow. If you are still worried, go to the nearest public place and call the police.
MAKE A FUSS
Consider carrying a personal attack alarm.
CALL THE POLICE!
If you are attacked, call 999 immediately. By attending the scene quickly, the police are more likely to catch your assailants, and possibly stop them from hurting others. Remember the police have GLBT trained liaison officers!
Citation: Transgender Zone and Lothian & Borders Police