Transgender Woman Chained, Harassed, and Humiliated by NYPD is Part of Pattern of Abuse

Temmie Breslauer, who is transgender,  was arrested in New York City on January 12th for unlawfully using her father's metro card, which is supposed to be only for the disabled. She says her arresting officers targeted and laughed at her before taking her to the station, where they continued to verbally abuse her, before cruelly chaining her arm above her head, all for a subway swipe.

From the Gothamist: 

 According to the lawsuit (below), as soon as Breslauer entered the precinct station house, an African American desk sergeant asked plaintiff whether she had a penis or a vagina, adding, "Have you had the surgery DOWN THERE?" The desk sergeant told Breslauer she needed this information because she needed to know "what to do with you." Breslauer showed her a note from her doctor explaining that she is undergoing a gender change and should be "allowed access to facilities... appropriate to her gender identity."

Instead, Breslauer claims she was "painfully chained to a fence wherein, for no apparent reason, her arm was lifted over her head and attached to the fence to make it appear that she was raising her hand in the classroom. She sat there in that position for 28 hours." While others were processed and given a desk appearance ticket in a timely manner, Breslauer says she was detained for over a day "to punish her for not revealing the state of her genitalia." It gets worse.

According to the lawsuit:

The police officers in the precinct acted with puerility and disgrace, making insulting remarks continually through this period. In addition to the snickering desk sergeant who disdainfully asked plaintiff not her gender but her genitalia, various other officers said things such as "He-She", "What are you supposed to be?" "Faggot," " Lady GaGa", "Transvestite." Officer Bryant said, "So you like to suck dick? Or what?" "Is it Halloween?" one John Doe said.

The officers refused to refer to her by her preferred gender. She was continually referred to as “he,” “sir” and more often, “buddy,” a semi-derisive name like “lady” that the police typically use with men. 21. Plaintiff was deliberately placed six feet in front of the male holding tank, where men, six feet away acted as belligerently as the police officers. She was, at various intervals throughout the evening, taunted, propositioned and targeted with sundry projectiles, like crumpled paper balls and soda cans.

Breslauer's lawyer, Gregory Antollino, told Gothamist, "Suffering and humiliation by transgender people at the hands of the police, such as the suffering exemplified by Temmie’s experience, is all too common. This lawsuit seeks monetary damages for Temmie and written changes in police policies for treating transgender arrestees. A police precinct is a public accommodation and no one should have to answer questions about the state of his or her genitalia to be treated with decency, fairly, and within the bounds of the law."

The NYPD has no guidelines for how to respectably treat the transgender population, but apparently they need them, because this kind of thing has happened before. Jezebel reports that since 2004, at least five transgender people have filed suit against the NYPD for violating their rights with obscene behavior like overly invasive search and verbal abuse: 

Breslauer's suit names the City of New York, Officer Shah, and several other officers as defendants. It accuses them of assault, battery, false imprisonment, and violation of Breslauer's civil rights, and asks for compensatory and punitive damages. And this isn't the first time the NYPD has been accused of mocking and abusing a trans person. In October, Justin Adkins, director of the Multicultural Center at Williams College, was arrested for protesting on the Brooklyn Bridge as part of Occupy Wall Street. At The Bilerico Project, he reports almost exactly the same treatment that Breslauer got. When a male officer found out Adkins was trans, he asked Adkins what he "had down there." 

Adkins told Jezebel what happened next: 

They had me sit down in a chair next to the filthy toilet, and handcuffed my right wrist to a metal handrail.

Why was I segregated from all of the other protestors? Perhaps the answer lay in the fact that police officers were coming by to ogle me, and were laughing and giggling at me through a window. It was obvious that prisoners were rarely handcuffed to a railing in this manner, because a number of officers asked a female officer why I was handcuffed to the railing. She told them something, I couldn't hear what, but then, on each of these occasions, they would laugh and giggle while looking at me pointedly.

 Read more about it here

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at February 3, 2012, 3:46am

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