by Trans State Watch, UK
Trans State Watch UK is a trans-led organisation looking to monitor state violence against trans, nonbinary, intersex and/or gender nonconforming people, collecting, organising, and analysing data based on individual submissions in order to create a clearer picture of the nature of such violence in the United Kingdom. The organisation was formed in response to a lack of formal recognition of, and response to, the specific ways in which state violence operates to oppress trans and gender nonconforming people, through policing and healthcare to name a few.
We felt that it was necessary for such violence to be recorded since transness and gender nonconformity are one of the many ways in which a person can be significantly more vulnerable to the power of the state; in interactions with the police, when trans people are often violated and misgendered; in attempts to access healthcare, which encompasses not only access to gender-affirming hormones and/or surgery but also day-to-day medical needs; in mental health services, where transness is pathologised and belittled, often treated as a symptom or even a manifestation of other mental health problems, preventing a trans person both from having their gender treated with dignity and from receiving the help that they need. The given examples are just a small selection of the many ways in which state violence works to attack both trans and gender-nonconforming individuals, and the very fact of transness and gender nonconformity as a whole.
As far as we are able, we take an approach to understanding transphobic state violence in relation to other vectors of oppression; a person’s race, gender, class, disability, etc. may play as significant a role in shaping their interaction with the state as their transness will, and we aim to account for these as far as we are able to in our work. We do not demand that people disclose any of these factors as we prioritise the safety of those who submit their experiences to us and trust the individual to determine whether or not such a disclosure is worthwhile.
At the same time, one of the aims of the project is to understand not only the fact that transness is related to other vectors of oppression, but the nature of those relationships in the UK context – what forms of state violence are different trans people impacted by, and what are the factors that shape that? It is only when we understand this kind of nuance to transphobic state violence, textured by a variety of power structures and other social factors, that we can begin to address it.
Our policy for data collection is that people can disclose as much or as little information as they prefer, at their own discretion, in order to preserve the individual’s right to anonymity and security. We use the information that we collect to consolidate a firmer understanding of how and why transphobic state violence takes place in the UK, ultimately in order to be better able to combat it.
We can be found at @TSW_UK on Twitter and Trans State Watch UK on Facebook, and contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in volunteering with us, our policy is that we are run exclusively by trans people.