Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to remember those who have been killed for simply being themselves. It serves as a call to action for others to speak out against discrimination and prejudice.
“Today we honour and remember those brave people who have dared to be themselves and had the courage to stand up and express who they are,” said Equalities Minister Jo Swinson.
“Shamefully, transgender people continue to face discrimination and inequality and sometimes even violence here in the UK and abroad. This is simply unacceptable in the twenty first century. Everyone should be treated equally regardless of who they are, and we all have a part to play in working towards a future free from ignorance and prejudice.”
The government launched Advancing transgender equality: a plan for action, the first ever transgender action plan, last year. A key commitment was the introduction of an amendment to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to provide for sentences to be made more severe where any offence is shown to be motivated by hostility towards the victim because they are transgender. The amendment, which received Royal Assent in May 2012 also provides for a 30-year sentence as a starting point for murders motivated by hostility towards the victim because they are transgender.
In March 2012, Challenge it, Report it, Stop it, a cross-government action plan to tackle all forms of hate crime was launched to look at a range of issues from tackling school bullying, challenging negative stereotypes and addressing racial, religious, disability, homophobic and transgender hate crimes. It also covers improving data, sharing good practice among local areas and issuing new guidance for police officers.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is now working closely with the transgender community to develop guidance for CPS prosecutors. The guidance will be used to help prosecutors when dealing with cases of hate crime involving transgender victims.