For those who take issue with some of my more robust comments on my Facebook page and in my blogs on certain matters like Islam and LGBT rights, that can give rise to hate crime allegations, the fact that I am a “hate crime ambassador” might come as rather rich. I had this out recently with the police officer who coordinates the scheme in my town and offered to stand down given my views, but given my assurance (which I believe I can back up in my practice as a community activist) that I will use my influence to combat what I see as real hate rather than soft soap when people merely feel they are being opposed because of their beliefs (as opposed to who they are as people), I felt able to continue in that not particularly onerous role, in a world where there is hate that needs to be combated.
Funnily enough, the matter of hate crime and that it has become a priority in policing has been a subject of exchanges with other police officers who believe the emphasis is misplaced given what should be more pressing police priorities, especially given limited resources. For some the fact they see something as a hate crime may be enough for it to be treated as such. It seems to me one bone of contention is differentiating between what truly is hate and people being upset by the words and actions of those who make them feel uncomfortable, if not physically or psychologically threatened. Given my more controversial stance on certain matters, I have been subject to abuse, mainly verbal, and if I stopped to think about it some of which is hateful. But I don’t recall ever reporting those incidents as hate crimes and usually find myself taking steps to deflect the vitriol or just living with it, recognizing freedom of speech, even for those who are not particularly kind in their comments to me personally, is too important to raise unnecessary restrictions.
These thoughts crossed my mind when I read an article titled: “Misgendering is not a crime – End the politicisation of the police” and some of the comments that followed after I shared it on Facebook. The article began: “A British journalist was under investigation by the police. Her apparent crime was the “misgendering” of a woman’s child as her “son” rather than her “daughter”. The investigation has now been dropped”. The article gave a number of examples when one person “misgendering” of a boy who wants to be treated as a girl, or vice versa, had got them into trouble with the authorities, concluding this is a waste police time and is unfair to the “perpetrator” who is merely stating what he/she views as facts and without any intention of malice (although the “victim” might argue that is a moot point).
Regarding the transgender issue, I am clear that except in extremely rare cases a person is either male or female and will remain so throughout life, although some will argue that surgery can nigh fully affect the transition between sexes. While I accept a small minority (which sadly had increased in recent years) may wish to transition and may even feel the need to do so, spurred on by trans leaning ideology, and providing they are compos mentis adults, and do so at their own expense, they should be allowed to do as they choose if it doesn’t harm others, but none of this alters the biological facts. I also believe if a “he” wishes to be treated as a “she”, within limits (and I don’t believe a man should not use a lady’s bathroom in a public space or compete as a woman in a woman only sporting event) we should extend that courtesy but not enforce it (unless there is a hate motive). I am also clear that allowing children to transition or feeding the idea that to do so is perfectly ok, is tantamount to child abuse, and it bothers me that in expressing such thoughts could in today’s politically correct charged environment lay oneself open to accusations of transphobia. I agree with the argument laid out by Focus on the Family: “Male and Female He Created Them: Genesis and God’s Design of Two Sexes” and regret when arguing this could get us into trouble.
But back to comments on my Facebook page when I shared the misgendering article (without comment) … One dissenting response was: “Hate crime is victim focused in the UK, so if somebody believes that an incident has taken place because of their gender or sexual orientation then it is recorded as such. This has less to do with politicising the police and more to do with making reporting systems accessible to marginalised communities (reporting rates are / have been horrendously low in the LGBT+ community for lots of reasons, but that’s a post of its own and I don’t want to derail your thread)! That aside, deliberate misgendering causes significant harm and my personal view is that we can’t justify psychological harm on account of a political viewpoint”. A different response was: “If someone suffers with gender identity disorder then the psychological harm existed in them long before anyone ever “misgendered” them. Calling someone something they are not is never going to reverse that pre-existing psychological damage”. I recognize those who read my writings could fall into either camp. While I recognize, as with gay folk when that was the issue of the hour, transgender folk may rightly feel aggrieved when they are detrimentally dealt with because of how they identify sexually, I also believe a right balance and perspective is needed, including allowing freedom of conscience when it comes to viewing sexuality, and fear that society is heading in the wrong direction.