Penicuik transgender woman “shaken” after assault

A Penicuik woman who recently came out as transgender has spoken of how a recent verbal and physical assault has left her scared to leave her house.

Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 2:49 pm
Sapphire Abigail Winters from Penicuik, pictured before and after coming out as transgender.

Sapphire Abigail Winters took the brave decision earlier this year to change her name from Christopher De Burgh and live as a woman, after years of suppressing her feelings.

Initially the 59-year-old former bus driver was delighted with the local response to her life-changing decision, with friends and strangers praising her. However, that changed on November 11 when Sapphire was physically assaulted outside the Tesco Penicuik store by a man, moments after receiving verbal abuse from two children on her appearance.

Recalling the incident, she told the Advertiser: “A man grabbed me really tightly and started verbally abusing me, calling me all sorts, right outside Tesco where the cash points are.

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“The man kept asking me why I was talking to young girls. But the young girl there had just been asking me if I was okay after I received verbal abuse from two young lads, and I was responding to her.

“The man then tried to stop me from pulling away and said ‘you better get the hell out of Penicuik because I will stab you’. Eventually he pushed me aside nearly causing me to fall over.

“I was shocked but managed to call the police later. They showed me a lot of care and support.

“The incident left me shocked inside and I feel really anxious. I’ve not really been out since. It’s left me mentally and emotionally exhausted.”

Despite this incident, Sapphire was full of praise for the local community in its response to her coming out.

“In general it’s not been too difficult to get people to understand and accept me for who I actually am. Which obviously I’m thankful for.

“It’s much more acceptable now than what it would have been 20/30 years ago.

“On the day I actually came out I began to tell friends who I knew I could trust and they were full of acceptance and love. Gradually I started letting more people know and the more folk I told the more accepting everyone was.

“At that point I was working for a local bus company and every single one of my colleagues were totally accepting of me.

“The local community were totally accepting of it. From then on I had been happy to be who I am. I dress as I choose to dress. I have had some really lovely comments from a lot of people. Even those I didn’t know.

“But then one or two people started to be nasty, coming from mostly children who can’t accept it or just wont accept it. I have been called a ‘he/she’, which is the wrong term and a hate crime.

“With some children it’s down to the parents.

“Within the school curriculum I feel the kids should be taught a small amount about the LGBT community, and that there are people out there who are different and deserve respect regardless of who they are.

“It’s a lack of education about transgender people. Kids should be taught about it at school I feel.”

Sapphire is still glad she came out, after suppressing her true feelings for so long.

“It was a very long time. From an early age I had these thoughts and feelings in my head, but I just dismissed them as at that age I couldn’t really understand them.

“As I got older those feelings came back again but I just pushed them to the back of my mind. It was a relief eventually. It had got to the point where I spoke to my doctor and she eventually diagnosed me with gender dysphoria.

“From that point I let everyone know and they have been totally accepting. It wasn’t a big deal for a lot of people.

“As far as being transgender, with a fully legal new name, I would like readers to know that yes the process can take some time, it doesn’t just happen overnight, but people can choose to live their lives as they want to.

“As long as people can accept a transgender person transitioning from male to female or female to male, then that’s not a problem”

Commenting on the incident outside the Tesco store, a Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We were called around 6.40pm on Wednesday, November 11 to a report of abusive and threatening behaviour and an assault in the Edinburgh Road area of Penicuik.

“Two boys, aged 11 and 13, have been reported to the Youth Justice Officer in connection with abusive comments.

“Separately, enquiries are ongoing into the threatening behaviour and assault and officers are following a positive line of enquiry.”