Intolerance killed transgender Scrabble champ, Mikki Nicholson after receiving abuse

April 22, 2015 10:00 am
A transgender woman who was a former national Scrabble champion took
her own life last year after receiving abuse for being different, an
inquest heard yesterday.
, 36, had told a
psychiatric nurse that she “felt stigmatised” for being transgender and
was being taunted in the street. She wanted to leave Carlisle where she
was living because she hoped she would be less abused elsewhere, but had
recently discovered that she would risk homelessness by moving.
Campaigners
said the case illustrates the fatal consequences of intolerance towards
transgender people in – an issue that remains stubbornly
widespread. The Metropolitan Police saw offences against transgender
people soar by 44 per cent in 2014, with 95 crimes recorded, up from 66
in 2013.

 Mikki Nicholson said she ‘felt stigmatised’ for being transgender and was being taunted in the street. Photo / Facebook

A transgender woman who was a former national Scrabble champion took
her own life last year after receiving abuse for being different, an
inquest heard yesterday.
Mikki Nicholson, 36, had told a
psychiatric nurse that she “felt stigmatised” for being transgender and
was being taunted in the street. She wanted to leave Carlisle where she
was living because she hoped she would be less abused elsewhere, but had
recently discovered that she would risk homelessness by moving.
Campaigners
said the case illustrates the fatal consequences of intolerance towards
transgender people in Britain – an issue that remains stubbornly
widespread. The Metropolitan Police saw offences against transgender
people soar by 44 per cent in 2014, with 95 crimes recorded, up from 66
in 2013.

Ms Nicholson, who was once ranked as the fourth-best Scrabble
player in the world, was born a man but identified as a woman. She was
receiving psychiatric treatment in the months before she was killed by a
train on 7 November.
Tabloid reporting of Ms Nicholson’s win at
the National Scrabble championships in 2010 mocked her as a man in
dress, and one columnist insinuated – under the headline “Why we’re all
Scrabbling to put on a frock” – that it was unseemly how many people
were “cross-dressing”.
Ms Nicholson was treated at a psychiatric
clinic last year and later supported at home by community psychiatric
nurse Clive Guyo. He told the inquest she had previously considered
suicide after visiting Manchester as she was scared of returning to
Carlisle.
“She described Carlisle as hostile to people who are
different,” Mr Guyo said. “She spoke of facing verbal abuse while
walking in the streets because of how she appeared to other people.
Schoolchildren were often the worst for making fun of her and verbally
abusing her.”
Mr Guyo said she clung to the belief that her life
would be better if only she could leave Carlisle. “She had a negative
view of Carlisle based on past experience,” he said. “She felt
stigmatised.”
The inquest heard that Ms Nicholson wanted to move
to Newcastle but was told she would be classed as “intentionally
homeless” if she left her flat, making it hard to find other social
housing. She had no money to rent privately.
In the five weeks before her death, she was not contactable, though Mr Guyo tried to visit and help her.
Rebecca
Mellor, a close friend of Ms Nicholson’s, said: “Mikki was fiercely
intelligent, exploring her gender identity, and had a vivacious
character. She frequently felt at odds with the world because of her
intelligence [and] gender identity.”
Coroner David Roberts
concluded yesterday that Ms Nicholson had deliberately killed herself
but that she had been well supported by psychiatric services. Cumbria
Partnership Trust, which provided psychiatric care, is now discussing
providing specialist support for transgender people in north Cumbria.
Where to get help:
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youth services: (06) 3555 906
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm to 6pm weekdays)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
The Word
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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