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Police come up tops at Transgender Day of Remembrance

Lee Rhiannon 21 Nov 2011

Blog post by Senator Lee Rhiannon

A number of police were present at this year's Transgender Day of Remembrance. While abuse and violence still mar the lives of many transgender people, the presence of the police in a supportive role is an indication of a significant change in official police policy.

I have been attending this day for the past few years. It is an occasion that I find both informative and enjoyable hearing the stories of many community members.  It is also very sombre as we are honouring the memories of transgender people who have been murdered, assaulted and abused.

Chief Superintendent Donna Adney, Corporate Spokesperson on Sexuality and Gender Diversity for the NSW Police Force was the guest speaker. It was a very frank contribution detailing the evidence that transgender people frequently become victims of violence, discrimination and abuse because of their transgender identity.

NSW Police have set up the Trans-Gender Anti-Violence Project.  Promoting their work under the slogan "Talk to us, report violence" there is a commitment from the police to reduce the violence and work with the community.

It is understandable that many in the community have had an uneasy relationship with police, as they have not always been innocent bystanders in this abuse. Refreshingly this is now a positive relationship in some jurisdictions, as demonstrated at this year's Remembrance Day.

Speakers from the community gave a number of excellent contributions. Roberta Perkins spoke of the history of organising support and safe places for transgender people. Some of the history is set out on the Gender Centre website.

Roberta also detailed her work with transgender women gaoled at Long Bay, a male prison, where they were exposed to violent attacks. Interestingly she described how the then Governor of this gaol established a protection unit for transgender prisoners as he recognised the need to provide a safe environment.

Other speakers described their journeys and while there is much to celebrate, the fact that stories of violence continue to shape the lives of so many is deeply troubling.

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