Celebrating International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia – 17th May 2018.
Let’s start by defining what we mean by homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. What we are talking about here are a range of negative attitudes, feelings or actions directed towards homosexual, bisexual, transgender and non-binary people, or those perceived to be gay, bisexual, trans or non-binary.
Interphobia relates to negative attitudes, feelings or actions directed towards people who are believed to possess biological sex traits that are not typically male or female.
How Does It Show Up?
If you’re like the majority of the population, chances are you will Google this. And when you do Google it, you will come across 2 different phrases.
- Hate Incidents
- Hate Crime
Examples of Hate Incidents
- Verbal abuse (such as name-calling)
- Physical abuse, violence and attacks (includes hitting, punching, pushing, spitting etc)
- Threatening behaviour and threats of violence
- Intimidation and harassment causing fear or discomfort for the person on the receiving end
- Online abuse and cyber bullying (including through social media channels)
- Harm or damage to your possessions (such as your home, pet, vehicle), graffiti and arson
- Hoax calls, abusive phone or text messages
- Hate mail
These are all examples of hate incidents.
Get the idea?
What Is Hate Crime?
Hate incidents are classed by the police as a hate-crime when a criminal offence has taken place.
Did You Know…?
- 1 in 5 LGBT people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the last 12 months.
- 2 in 5 trans people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months.
- 4 in 5 LGBT people who have experienced a hate crime or incident didn’t report it to the police.
Taken from LGBT in Britain – Hate Crime (2017)
- 1 in 5 LGB employees have experienced verbal bullying from colleagues, customers or service users because of their sexual orientation in the last five years.
- 1 in 8 LGB employees would not feel confident reporting homophobic bullying in their workplace.
- 1 in 4 of LGB workers are not at all open to colleagues about their sexual orientation.
Taken from Gay in Britain (2013)
My Hate Incident Experience
I have been on the receiving end of hate incidents on many occasions. Sometimes when I am with my partner, sometimes when out with our friends but mostly when I am alone.
I want to talk to you about a series of hate incidents I experienced at work.
I experienced a significant period of bullying whilst I was employed in a Further Education College as a teacher. It was so significant it impacted dramatically on my physical health, which in turn affected my performance at work.
The stress that I felt as a result of the hate incidents on a daily basis, resulted in me having IBS – irritable bowel syndrome.
If you have heard me speak or read my first book, you will have heard me talk about this situation. A situation that led me to not be able to teach classes in the mornings. Whoever heard of a teacher that can’t teach in the morning? Crazy ey?!
I experienced daily harassment, bullying, intimidation, online abuse and teasing. All from my manager.
I was only able to teach afternoon and evening classes because my IBS symptoms were so severe in the mornings; the time where my manager was in ‘full swing’.
Did I report this?
Initially, no. I was too afraid to ‘out’ myself to the leadership team. I would have had to explain the context of the bullying and show the emails. As soon as I did that – they would know I was gay. And I didn’t want anyone else at work to know that.
Eventually, I reported it and her behaviour.
The woman involved was promoted.
I was told to not progress the case any further because it would highlight my sexual orientation to my colleagues and peers. Even though I had documented a year of incidents, emails, communications and had witnesses.
Take note. How not to deal with a homophobic incident.
What To Do When You Experience Homophobic, Biphobic, Transphobic or Interphobic Abuse
If you are experiencing any form of hate incident or hate crime there are a number of ways to report it.
- In an emergency always dial 999.
- At other times you can contact your local police force by dialling 101.
- Through the power of the internet, you can report crime anonymously through the police website – True Vision.
Note: it is really important that when you report the incident or crime if you think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on your sexual orientation or gender identity – you must tell them.
Homophobic, Biphobic, Transphobic or Interphobic Abuse At Work
If you have or are experiencing acts of hostility or harassment because of sexual orientation or gender identity, speak up.
Have a conversation with your manager, HR, Equality and Inclusion Team or other appropriate representative.
Be sure to document the incident(s) in as much detail as you can too.
You may have a discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010. Under the Equality Act 2010 harassment refers to “unwanted conduct which violates someone’s dignity or creates an intimidating, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.” The Equality Act states that an employer is responsible for the behaviour of its employees. This means they need to take reasonable steps to challenge and prevent harassment. They can only do this if you report it…
You can get further support from Stop Hate UK and be sure to look for support groups in your local area. There are lots of them around. Research on the internet, have a look and see what resonates with you.
Good Practice In The Workplace
- Promote a culture of inclusion. LIVE your diversity and inclusion strategy. Demonstrate every day how you are an inclusive employer. For example: do you have gender-neutral toilets? Toilets without a sex assigned to the door are a clear sign that gender is a non-issue.
- Communicate clearly with your staff. Let people know how to report inappropriate behaviour and the steps that will be taken to ensure they are safe and happy at work.
- Education is key. Provide regular LGBT+ training and workshops for your employees, management and senior executives.
- Provide training for your LGBT+ allies: those who are cis-gendered and/or heterosexual that want to support and be more vocal for the organisations LGBT+ employees.
- If you don’t already have one, create an LGBT+ network. This is a safe space where your LGBT+ colleagues can go to discuss LGBT+ successes and issues, receive support, guidance, peer mentoring etc.
Homophobic, Biphobic, Transphobic or Interphobic Abuse At Home
If you are experiencing incidents near or at your home, you may be able to get your local authority or landlord to take action under their anti-social behaviour powers.
Homophobic, Biphobic, Transphobic or Interphobic Abuse At School
If you are at school or your kids are experiencing any form of bullying around your sexual orientation or gender identity, the school should deal with it under their behaviour policy. Speak to them. Don’t keep quiet, speak to them about it. They should also co-operate with the police and social services if they become involved. They may not need to – but them may have to.
NOW. Most people stop here.
They don’t do what I am going to tell you next. However, this next bit is VITAL.
You need to process it. Are you listening? You need to process what happened to you.
If not, it will have a negative impact on you and your health and it will become ingrained in your subconscious mind. You really don’t want that to happen.
Here Are 3 Fundamental Things You Must Do, After You Have Reported It.
- Journal about the incident.
What I am talking about here is writing down what you experienced. Write down how it made you feel, how you responded – both in the moment and after the occasion (physically, mentally and emotionally). Get it all out on paper.
By doing this you are processing the experience – and through that process you will strip away the emotion and story you have attached to it.
- Once you no longer feel the emotional charge when you think about the event, look at it from another perspective.
What could have been going on for that person? What might be happening in their life to make them do what they did?
You will never know if this is true or real – but it will get you thinking about it – and it will take YOU out of the equation.
After all, this experience wasn’t about you. It was about what was going on inside the other person at that moment in time.
- Release the emotion and story you have attached to it.
There are many ways you can do this.
Write a letter to the person saying everything you want to say to them. Then burn it.
Talk to someone else about it. Someone objective – like a coach, mentor, colleague or LGBT+ professional. Let them work with you to raise your awareness on what happened in that situation, release ALL the emotion you have attached to it and explore how you can regain your confidence, self-esteem and mojo!
When you hold on to old words, judgements, criticisms or hate, it dramatically affects how you show up in the world. In your relationships with your kids, significant other, parents, grandparents, with your colleagues, managers, peers. It affects the work you produce, your creativity and your confidence in your abilities. It affects your health – physical, mental and emotional.
You shut off a part of yourself and in doing so you end up wearing a ‘mask’ to prevent yourself from getting hurt or attacked again in any way.
This results in you NOT showing up as authentic, real and true to who you are. When that happens you become increasingly unhappy, isolated and lonely. Listen to me when I say this, I have been there. It is not a nice place to be.
By following the 3 steps detailed above you will ensure you don’t hold on to the experience: consciously or subconsciously. This is vital for your health and well-being. If you hold on to it, it has the potential to manifest itself as ill health or even worse further down the road. You don’t want that.
Please take the time to process what you experienced. It will make a significant difference to your life, work and confidence going forwards.
For more information about the work Gina does with individuals visit https://www.ginabattye.com/individuals/.
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