2018 marks ERCC’s 40th anniversary of supporting survivors of sexual violence and importantly too our 10th year of being a trans inclusive service. We support all members of the trans community, and recognise that trans people experience high levels of sexual violence but also additional barriers in accessing support. The number of trans survivors who access our service remains small, and addressing the additional barriers faced in accessing support is a crucial and ongoing part of our work.
We aim to be a pro-actively trans inclusive service. This involves specialist training for all our staff, ongoing partnership work with Scottish Trans Alliance, and regular reviews of all our resources and service provision to identify and address additional barriers that exist for trans people wanting to access support. We recognise that many trans people will have experienced discrimination and transphobia in their experiences of accessing services. We are committed to reducing barriers to our service, and will continue our work on this as we begin the process of working towards an LGBT Charter Mark throughout 2018.
Sexual violence can affect trans people in unique and specific ways, and we aim to ensure this understanding is embedded at the core of our service. Increasing this understanding means our support can be tailored, accessible and effective for trans people who need it. We recognise that trans people are specifically targeted for hate crime, often in the form of sexual harassment or sexual assault, because of their identity. Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre has recently undergone training to work towards being able to operate as a third-party reporting centre for all incidents of hate crime. We hope that the process of becoming a third-party reporting centre will increase routes into support for trans people.
This month we have submitted a response to the government consultation on the Gender Recognition Act, open until March 1st. We support the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act and are hopeful this consultation leads to legislation that reflects the inclusivity we aim for in our own practice. In light of some wider concerns around gender based violence services and specifically self-declaration, we would like to emphasise our support of this as practice for legal gender recognition. We currently provide support on the basis of self-identification and have done so for 10 years. Our centre has women-only times and spaces and we recognise that trans women - and trans women on the basis of self-declaration - are women, and are therefore included in those spaces. We believe that the safety of our spaces is dependent on our routine risk assessment, practice and policy, and not on the identities of the people who are in them.
As a service that has supported trans survivors on the basis of self-identification for a decade, we are confident that it is best practice, and practice representative of the feminism and ethos of our organisation.
Striving for a safe, accessible and inclusive sexual violence service is always ongoing and it is work ERCC look forward to continuing in 2018.
1978-2018: 40 Years of Specialist Support for Survivors of Sexual Violence