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A mother of two spat on a trans woman in broad daylight in England

A mother of two spat on a trans woman in broad daylight in England

Fiona Wood | Picture: Twitter (@purpleprez)

A mother of two allegedly spat on a trans woman in broad daylight near the grounds of an English university campus.

Fiona Wood was just a few yards away from Staffordshire University campus when the woman spat of her in an act of ‘pure hatred,’ she described five years on from the incident.

The 57-year-old fled home in an attack that left her in ‘total shock,’ but one she looks back on today having recently been named Midlands Role Model of the Year by LGBTI charity Stonewall.

What happened?

Walking along Leek Road in the daytime, a bustling main road in Stoke-on-Trent, the midlands, Wood encountered the mother.

She told Gay Star News: ‘I was walking just outside the university grounds – having just finished working on my Masters – when, suddenly, this person just spat at me.

‘The police knew of them, it wasn’t just a person spitting at me. She had a background.

‘The total shock that it happened. That somebody could and did do that. To have that happen, you can’t help but ask, why?

‘That time afterwards I couldn’t stop asking myself why this happened to me and why they did it.

‘Then anger comes into it. You start retreating into yourself and put self-protection first by not leaving the house. There was no-one who got me out of the flat. It took me a while to realize it was ok to go outside.’

‘Talk to me. Get to know me.’

Five years on, and Wood is in a better place. But around her, a specter of hate crime statistics haunts her and the UK trans community, as hate crimes have tripled in the five years since.

If the woman who spat on her was in front of her today, Wood said she would simply ask them: ‘Why?

‘I wouldn’t be angry at them. “Why did you do that? Talk to me. Get to know me.”

‘It’s about understanding where they’re coming from. Anger is the wrong thing to have. Education is best.’

Stonewall ‘Role model of the year’

While hate crimes have ascended, so has Wood.

Since being a student five years ago, the Middleport local was this year named Midlands Role Model of the Year by Stonewall.

‘What happened to me is in the past,’ she said, ‘and I want to move on and be a role model for trans people.

‘I want to help them realize there is safety out there. That people do look after one another.’

‘We can’t simply feel, “Oh, what a shame that this [the attack] happened.” We need to know that people can and will get better out of these situations.

The former student union president and current photographer and was described in a Staff Union blog post as a ‘long time member’ the community.

In her premiership, she created pro-trans policies as the first trans president of a university students union and the first trans officer of the National Union of Students.

Today, she is finishing her Masters degree in fine art photography with gender studies, having been a photographer for over 40 years.

‘It can be dangerous [being LGBTI]’

Nevertheless, Wood’s work is not over. ‘Stoke-on-Trent isn’t always a nice place for the LGBTI community,’ she added.

‘It can be dangerous. Our first Pride had death threats.

‘We still cannot do a march in our town because of the way a lot of people there feel.’

In Stoke-on-Trent, support for the UK to withdraw from the European Union ran high. Around seven in 10 people voted to withdraw from the bloc, according to poll numbers.

And it’s this divide that is fracturing the nation, Wood feels. How can lawmakers curb escalating hate crimes, all the while anti-LGBTI protesters picket against queer lives being taught in schools in Birmingham?

‘Education is crucial. What’s happening in Birmingham… I’m behind the headteacher in not giving into anti-LGBTI pressure.

‘If we can teach people at a young age, it becomes acceptable.’

‘There is a lot of work to be done’

Current president of the Student Union Connor Bayliss, too, voiced their condemnation of what happened to Wood.

‘As a Students’ Union we do not condone any actions of hate, and proudly support our LGBT+ network – and this is why we run our #NoExcuse campaign to challenge these behaviours.

‘We’ve also been incredibly happy to work with the University to launch our first Trans Inclusion Policy and look forward to work such as this continuing.

‘Whilst we’re happy to have contributed in this way, we’re also aware there is a lot of work to be done, and will continue to work with the University and local community to make everyone feel welcome – regardless of religion, age, race, disability, gender or sexuality.’

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