VIDEO: What’s a Quiltbag? Policeman talks transgender issues

  • Peter Allan is the hate crime sergeant and trans* equality advocate for Sussex Police
  • He plans to set up a group for the transgender community to ‘test, challenge and inform’ police policies
  • He hopes that more discussion of transgender issues will help people ‘see others as individuals’

Quiltbag doesn’t sound like an alternative acronym for LGBT – but for Peter Allan it is one more way the police can improve their relationship with the gay community.

Peter is the hate crime sergeant and trans* equality advocate for Sussex Police, and in his line of work he comes across many different words and phrases in what he describes as the gay ‘lexicon’.

Peter Allan, the hate crime sergeant and trans* equality advocate for Sussex Police

Peter Allan, the hate crime sergeant and trans* equality advocate for Sussex Police

The star in his title, which is designed to encompass the wide spectrum of transgender identities, and the footer of his email, which says ‘My pronouns are he/him/his’ are two examples of how the police force is trying to broaden people’s horizons.

To this end, Peter aims to set up an external reference group for transgender people so that they can be critical friends of the force and their policies.

Peter said: “We all need to be better at realising that people aren’t just men or women, and people aren’t just trans men or trans women either. It could be that today they are more one than the other.

“I think there is much more transgender visibility in the mainstream – on television and in the media.

I hope comes out of people wondering about this stuff is that it makes people see others as individuals and not see them in a one-dimensional way

Peter Allan

“There are many more trans people in the community than I had been aware of and many more conversations about it now.

“Increasing this visibility so that it is seen as individuals wanting to live their lives like the rest of us do – that will make any barriers that have been there be reduced.”

The aim of the group is to ‘test, challenge and inform’ the force’s policies to make sure they treat transgender people fairly.

An example he used as an area of improvement was the police’s system for inputting people’s titles, which meant that a transgender woman complaining about transphobic abuse was recently sent a letter of response addressed to ‘Mr’.

Their systems are being reviewed to prevent this happening again – and now include ‘Mx’, an option for people who do not identify themselves as either male or female. He said ‘he can see how people can become confused’ with these titles and alternative pronouns like ‘they, their or theirs’, but hopes it will encourage discussion.

“I can see how people can become confused when you are talking about Quiltbag, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, gender binary, but what I hope comes out of people wondering about this stuff is that it makes people see others as individuals and not see them in a one-dimensional way.”

As part of his job, Peter also ensures that transgender equality is promoted within Sussex Police. Part of this includes making sure that new police buildings are built with gender-neutral toilets and in existing ones they are adapted where possible, and that when employing staff transgender candidates are given equal opportunities.

He recognised that hate crimes against the transgender community are on the rise – 67 crimes were reported between April 1 2015 and March 31 this year, 19 more than the previous 12-month period – but believed this was because more transgender people felt comfortable in speaking to the police.

For further information about the proposed trans* external reference group, contact diversity@sussex.pnn.police.uk.