HARASSMENT AND PHYSICAL AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE
Police often respond to gender nonconformity with “street justice,” administered through verbal harassment and abuse, including slurs such as “faggot,” “dyke,” “tranny,” “he/she,” “freak,” and “bitch,” and often accompanied by physical violence.
Black lesbians frequently report being punched in the chest by officers saying something like, “You want to act like a man, I’ll treat you like a man.” One woman fi led a complaint with the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board because an officer grabbed her as she was arguing with her girlfriend. When she protested, the officer replied, “I don’t give a fuck if you’re female, you gay bitch. I will arrest you right now if you think you’re a man.”
More than half of transgender participants in the 2015 US Transgender Survey who interacted with officers who knew the participants were transgender reported some form of violence or abuse by police. Native trans women were most likely to report police violence, followed by Black trans women and multiracial trans women. Organizations around the country have documented high levels of harassment and violence against trans women by police. In studies conducted in New York and Los Angeles, more than half to two-thirds of respondents reported verbal or physical abuse. Studies consistently find that Black, Native, and Latinx trans people are at greatest risk of harassment, physical assault, and sexual violence. The community-based organization Make the Road New York reports Elena’s experience: “The cops stopped her and asked her what she was doing. She replied she was getting coffee. The cops proceeded to take the coffee from her, throw it on the ground and on her feet and told her to ‘get on your knees, you fucking faggot.’ She was kept on her knees for over thirty minutes until she was finally put in a police van and taken to the local precinct.” Another trans woman told Human Rights Watch, “They pat-frisk you, they ask if you have fake boobs, take them off right there, if you have a wig, take it off. It’s humiliating.
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