A trans woman subjected to regular vile abuse is calling for the police to step up their efforts to tackle hate crime targeted towards the community.
Kelsey Russell has experienced both physical and verbal altercations and wants to see changes to the way LGBTQ+-related cases are dealt with.
Trans woman Kelsey Russell talks about the abuse she has experienced
The 27-year-old is calling on the force to set up its own LGBTQ+ department to address rising levels of hate crime.
It comes after a recent incident in which Kelsey says she and a friend, Miley, who is also trans, were asked to leave a pub.
She said the pair experienced a torrent of abuse and believes they were asked to leave because they were both trans.
Kelsey, who lives in Chatham, described how they had been sat in a beer garden when some drunk men started shouting abuse at them.
She said: "They were shouting 'that's a man' and 'get your ***** out'. One guy told his friend to hold his pint glass and said he was going to hit my friend."
Kelsey and her friend were able to calm the situation but the abuse did not stop.
The two of them were then approached by another drunk man but when the women rejected his advances he reacted badly and taunted them both.
She said: "He said he was going to kick me in the ****. He got his foot and kicked me in the ****."
Both Kelsey and her friend were then accused of starting the trouble and asked to leave by the landlord, who she says said: "I don't have this drama in this pub. You two have come in and you two have caused the drama."
"It was easier for her to kick us out of the pub than a punter who she already knows," Kelsey added.
The business owner, who is taking time out of work to focus on her transition, says she was also recently followed when she left a nightclub with her mother, Sharon.
Kelsey described how she was waiting for an Uber opposite the club when she was approached.
She said: "We arrived at our house and a guy came out of nowhere. It was the guy from the club – he had followed us home. It was really scary.
"I was thinking 'this person now knows where I live' and my mum and I were scared to go out on our own after that."
Since starting her transition earlier this year, Kelsey said that she has experienced people staring and shouting transphobic abuse at her in the street, as well as physical abuse.
"A lot of guys think it's okay to touch us, or they grab our hands to put them on their private area."
The 27-year-old added: "A lot of guys think it's okay to touch us, or they grab our hands to put them on their private area."
The live streamer, who has nearly 4,000 followers on TikTok, said she has reported several incidents of transphobic abuse since she began transitioning.
And although police have listened to her claims, she believes more can be done to put a stop to abuse targeting trans people.
She said: "I think we need better laws, not just for trans people, but for the LGBTQ+ community too.
"Personally, I think we need our own department, so that things can be dealt with more efficiently. There's a lot more that the police could do."
Kelsey also wants people to understand what it's like to be trans and aims to set up a support group to help others in the community.
She said: "It's not about fighting with each other, because that's not going to solve the issue.
"It's about working with people that don't understand the trans community.
"I think if we can educate people on why we are trans and why our lives have changed, I think people might understand and that might stop the abuse."
Over the last financial year, police recorded 814 hate crimes linked to a person’s sexual orientation, an increase of 266 from the same period a year prior.
A further 136 hate crimes were recorded against transgender victims, which is up by 43.
Chief Superintendent Amanda Tillotson, head of diversity and inclusion at Kent Police, said crimes motivated by hate based on a protected characteristic were "completely unacceptable".
She said the force takes such incidents very seriously and welcomes feedback from victims as to how it can improve its service.
"Whilst one report is one too many, we know hate crimes remain under-reported and we therefore welcome these increases as it demonstrates an improved confidence among victims to come forward," she said.
"This is a direct result of the work we carry out to build and maintain relationships with LGBT+ communities, for example by attending events including local Pride festivals, arranging third-party reporting mechanisms and educational workshops with support from organisations including Galop and The BeYou Project, and employing community liaison officers to provide an enhanced service to victims.
"It is also important to note that a number of officers and staff from the diversity and inclusion team are also members of the LGBT+ community and are therefore well-placed to offer further specialist advice and support to victims.
"Every person in Kent should feel safe to go about their daily business without being subjected to prejudicial behaviour, and we at Kent Police will continue to play our part in providing support to victims, protecting them from harm and bringing offenders to justice."