A transgender woman who was arrested for a minor infraction is claiming that the New York Police Department subjected her to shocking mistreatment.
As Jezebel.com is reporting, Temmie Breslauer was arrested on January 12 in a New York subway station for illegally using her father's discount fare card.
After being laughed at and taken to the police station, she was asked by the receiving officer "whether she had a penis or a vagina." According to Breslauer's official complaint, she provided the officer with a document that explained she "is undergoing a gender change and that the process of changing one's gender was both medically and legally complex." The document requested Breslauer "be allowed safe passage including access to facilities that are appropriate to her gender identity."
The complaint alleges that instead of being taken to a holding cell for women or placed in another available room, she was fingerprinted, seated on a bench, and "then 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."
Breslauer's complaint goes on to allege that during those 28 hours she was not allowed to use the restroom and the officers in the station referred to her as "he-she," "faggot," "Lady GaGa," and "transvestite." The officers also allegedly refused to refer to her by her preferred gender and called her "he," "sir," and "buddy."
She also claims that she 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 paperballs and soda cans."Breslauer's attorney, Gregory Antoillino, told Gothamist.com,
"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."
Breslauer isn't the first trans person to allege mistreatment by the New York Police Department, which, Gothamist.com points out, does not have guidelines in place for dealing with transgender arrestees.
In October, transgender writer, activist, and HuffPost Gay Voices blogger Justin Adkins was arrested for participating in an Occupy Wall Street demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge. Adkins alleges that he, too, was subjected to abuse by the NYPD including being handcuffed to a wall for 8 hours.
Jezebel.com notes that all requests for a comment about Breslauer's complaint have gone unanswered by the NYPD.