Greater Manchester Police in north-west England have made a groundbreaking decision on hate crime that could cultivate greater respect for diversity as a whole.
From now, crimes motivated by hate against people from various music subcultures – emos, goths and punks – will be recorded as such.
If other police forces follow their lead it could benefit not just goths and punks but also the trans community.
I remember well the senseless murder of Sophie Lancaster back in 2007, a 20-year-old girl who was beaten to death in a park in Lancashire simply because she was a goth. It was her death that eventually sparked this move.
I was appalled at Sophie’s murder and at the reaction of someone I knew at the time who was standing as a Labour candidate for their local council and who said to me that Sophie and her boyfriend were asking for trouble because of the way they dressed.
Sadly that kind of attitude is all too typical as if the way you dress, or cut your hair, or wear make-up or any number of other things should be some kind of excuse for people to commit hate crimes.
Yes being an emo, goth or punk is a lifestyle choice, just like being a member of a religion – and those choices shouldn’t be above criticism. But making a choice like that shouldn’t mean you are subjected to discrimination and abuse, let alone violence. That is a hate crime.
And, unlike many religious people, goths and punks generally don’t try to push others to follow their lifestyle or judge them for not doing so. In fact they are pretty open-minded to the lifestyle choices of others or the identities people happen to be born with, such as being gay or transgender.
Of course some might ask what do goths, punks and emos have to do with the trans community? Well other then me being a being transwoman and a punk, many transwomen either camouflage themselves as goths or genuinely are part of these cultural communities. And aside of that, I believe cultivating greater respect for all types of difference, like these, will help lead greater respect for diversity as a whole and the trans community has a lot to gain from that.
I’m a fan of diversity. If you want to worship some mystical sky daddy, I’ll defend your right to do so. If you want to be a vegetarian, that should be your choice. If you want tattoos or want to be a nomad wandering the land in a caravan, you should have that freedom. I might not agree in the choices you make in your life but I ultimately I defend personal liberty.
My battle not to conform started when I was at school – I wanted to grow my hair long and have piercings and tattoos. And that battle still continues for me within the transgender community.
I’d not say I’ve not been subjected to out and out bigotry in the trans community for being a punk, but I’ve certainly had trans people be hostile towards me for being punk rock, some of which has been abusive.
In the past I’ve had other trans people exclude me from various functions for being punk rock in appearance. I’ve endured this because I understood that from their perspective there was a difference between being trans and punk rock. But I still find it a bit hypocritical of trans people for making that disctinction when they’re themselves being discriminated against, partly because of the way they look.
Greater Manchester Police are heading in the right direction – helping to generate greater respect for diversity in society. But even in our own transgender community, there is still much work to be done.