As the title suggests, everything on this blog concerns violence against trans women.
The Trans Women's Anti-Violence Project is a trans feminist project addressing issues of systematic, institutional and interpersonal violence and oppression experienced by trans women (those who were coercively assigned male at birth and identify or are identified as women/female) across multiple identities (e.g., race, class, dis/ability, citizen-status, nationality, sexuality, age, HIV status, and form, status, or age of transition, etc.)
Ida Hammer is a writer and social justice communicator. She organizes the Trans Women's Anti-Violence Project. She presents workshops and trainings on cis privilege and being a trans ally. She's also involved in organizing against sexualized violence. She's a proud dyke-identified trans woman and an organizer of the New York City Dyke March.
LOS ANGELES—A Los Angeles police officer who stops a man dressed as a woman now has to think twice before calling the person “Sir.”
That’s the word from Chief Charlie Beck, who issued a policy Thursday addressing how officers interact with the transgender community.
The policy is the latest step in the long process of making the Los Angeles police a more sensitive and professional force by ensuring police contacts with the transgender community are respectful and courteous, said Beck.
When a person identifies as transgender, officers are directed to “respect the expressed gender and do not question it,” Beck writes in a memo to all department personnel.
When in doubt, the memo tells officers to rely on what a transgendered person may be wearing or their language and demeanor, and respectfully call the person “sir” or “ma’am” accordingly as they would in any stop.
The memo also bars officers from frisking individuals or questioning them for the sole purpose of learning their anatomical gender.
As with non-transgender stops, when an immediate body search for weapons is required for safety, officers of any gender may conduct the search.
In a less urgent situation where a transgender person is under arrest, they may declare a preference for a male or female officer to conduct the search, and will be accommodated if there is no perceived risk to officer safety.
"consistent with requirements for the removal of similar items from non-transgender individuals," according to the memo.
The San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center applauded the LAPD’s new policies. The center said it has received many complaints from transgendered people saying they’ve experienced police harassment.
"This is a huge victory for transgender people who may interact with the police, and for transgender inmates," said Masen Davis, the center’s executive director.
The center teamed with community advocates and the city human relations commission to provide recommendations for the policy change.
University of California, Irvine Dean of Social Ecology Val Jenness says other cities—including Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.—already have similar policies in place.
Jenness, whose research focuses on transgendered people, said the policy is a good first step, but training and follow-up will be necessary to protect the transgendered community.
"Policies like this codify an organization’s values and express them to the community. The LAPD is trying to commit to respecting the transgender community with its policies," Jenness said. "I wish policies like this had been in place a long time ago."
The above article says cities like Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York City have similar guidelines. Yet trans women in these cities are regularly stopped, searched and arrested for the crime of “walking while trans.”
It was just a month ago, on March 14, that Alderman Proco Joe Moreno introduced an ordinance to the Chicago City Council to force the Chicago Police Department to adopt a policy on the treatment of trans people being held in police custody. This is something trans advocates in the city had already been advocating for years.
In New York City, the profiling of people of color, including trans women of color, for stops and frisks is a serious problem. Everyday trans women of color in the city are rounded up on petty “quality of life” violations. Those trans woman stopped by police for “walking while trans” are often subjected to humiliating questioning and searches, including disproportionately higher rates of strip searches. As evidence of how little respect trans people are given by NYPD, consider Temmie Breslauer, who while in police custody in January was cuffed to a fence with one of her arms over her head for 28 hours. While held in police custody she was captive to continuous harassment, with police calling her “He-She”, “Faggot,” and “Lady GaGa,” and asking her “So you like to suck dick? Or what?” Last month Breslauer flied a lawsuit against the City of New York and other defendants for assault, battery, false imprisonment, and violation of her civil rights. Neither a policy nor a lawsuit should be required to prove that this sort of treatment is never OK.
In Washington, D.C., the use of “Prostitution Free Zones” have contributed to the profiling of trans women who are harassed, stopped and searched by police. Violence against trans women of color in the nation’s capital is a serious problem. This include an incident where a group of trans women of color were targeted last year by an off-duty police officer who solicited sex from the women. The cop became enraged when he was rejected by the women. Later that night he unloaded his service weapon into the women’s vehicle. Then when police arrived on the scene they put the trans women in handcuffs. D.C. trans advocates have criticized the police handling of violence crimes against trans people in the city, including two murders of trans women last year that remain unsolved.
The problems with the LAPD go much deeper than using the wrong pronouns. In documenting what should have already been seen as an obvious problem, a new report shows that trans Latinas in the City of Angels are routinely harassed as well as physically and sexually assaulted by police officers. None of this is news, “Stonewalled,” a 2005 report from Amnesty International on police abuse and misconduct against LGBT people in the U.S., documented a number of instances of violence by the LAPD (as well as Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C. police) against trans people, mainly trans women of color. The report noted then that, “The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) reports that it does have a specific policy governing interactions with transgender individuals.” So, yes, these policies should have been established long-ago.
But now that policies exist, it’s important to understand that they offer more of a public relations tool to protect the police departments than any actual guarantee of better treatment for trans people. It’s going to take more than a policy statement to eliminate the systematic mistreatment and violence that trans people experience as targets of our police departments.