Sophie Cook: Take pride in the police

Sophie Cook together with officers from Surrey Police at a recent transgender awareness training event
Sophie Cook together with officers from Surrey Police at a recent transgender awareness training event

I was deeply disappointed to see that the National Union of Students transgender conference recently voted to try to block police from attending Pride events.

I’m disappointed in the ‘No Pride in the Police’ motion on a number of levels. Firstly I’m disappointed that the delegates felt the need for this divisive motion rather than working towards a solution.

Secondly, I’m disappointed that people still feel marginalised by the police and that the support I see in the forces I work with isn’t filtering down to the public. There’s obviously more work to be done to win back hearts and minds.

As someone that is old enough to remember the bad old days when I was terrified of leaving the house as my true self, not because of attacks by the public but because of the fear that any interaction with the police would lead to me being outed, I know how bad the relationship between the police and the trans community has been.

But that was 20 years ago, times change, society has changed and so, I believe, have the police.

I’ve worked with a number of police forces including Sussex, Surrey and Bedfordshire to raise awareness of trans identities and issues and I have met nothing but honesty and support from the officers and staff that I’ve had the honour to work with.

Of course there are still a small minority of officers with bigoted views, the police are part of society and reflect the diversity that exists on our streets, both good and bad. But the overriding impression that I get from the police I meet is of the need to support minority groups and to work together to make society a safer place for everyone.

The world improves when people work together to combat injustices, not when we fight those whose roles are to protect us. The way forward is conversation and inclusivity, not censure and exclusion.

Sophie Cook was the first transgender newscaster on European terrestrial TV for Brighton’s Latest TV. Sophie is now the head of Latest LGBT+ TV. Sophie is also a hate crime ambassador for Sussex Police and regularly speaks at conferences about LGBT issues and consults with a number of major companies about inclusion and diversity.