A Welsh police force has taken on a trans woman to help train officers about hate crimes.
Michelle Douglas contacted Dyfed Powys Police last year to ask if she could help educate officers about transphobia.
She was then invited to take part in training 48 newly-appointed hate crime support officers.
Speaking to Walesonline.com, she said: “The first question the police always want to ask is if I’ve had anything cut off! I tell them there are around 5,000 trans people in the UK who have surgery and another 50,000 who haven’t and who don’t want it. Right now, I’m one of those.
“I get a real buzz from doing the course, I’m in my comfort zone. The police are fine to work with. One section involves getting them to look at pictures of a load of people and they have to guess which ones are transgender – it’s funny when the men are surprised when they realise an attractive woman was born a man.
“Do you know how many transgender crimes and incidents were recorded by Dyfed Powys Police in 2006/ 07? None.
“That’s because there is no box to tick, people don’t necessarily want to say they are trans and it’s a very sensitive issue. Statistics say a third of trans people attempt suicide one or more times – if I can stop one person committing suicide then that’s worth it.”
Michelle said she realised she was supposed to be female 14 years ago, while she was still known as Mark.
As a man, Mark had been married twice and had two children with his second wife. Michelle decided she was ready to live openly as a woman 14 years ago and the couple are still together.
“My wife is very supportive now, the kids call me dad but I’d have no problem if they called me mum. One reason I’m speaking out is for my children. Our daughter would be bullied, people would ask, ‘Are your two mums coming to parents’ evening?’
“I told her to say, ‘Hell, yes!’. I told her, ‘If kids at school give you grief, you’re allowed to deck them’. Nobody’s got the right to bully them and if decking them is the way we get to highlight bullying then so be it.”
One living in a small rural town, she said: “There are lots of different ethnicities around and sexualities. I’ve had the odd noise made to me when I walk past kids but there’s only been one single person who’s been seriously negative to me.”