Study sheds light on police ‘trans’ abuse in New York area

Transgender people in Queens district of Jackson Heights are twice as likely to be stopped and searched by police, report claims

Study sheds light on police ‘trans’ abuse in New York area
25 October 2012

Transgender people in Jackson Heights, New York, have been targeted by police for stop-and-frisk searches at more than twice the rate of the rest of the population, a new study claims.

The report, which spoke to 305 residents in the Queens neighborhood, was conducted by Make The Road New York and the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence project.

‘Transgender and gender nonconforming people of color are particularly vulnerable due to their visibility,’ the study notes.

‘In order to combat police misconduct, there must be legislation and policies that minimise the risk of these kinds of abuse occurring in our communities.

‘Of the people that took part in the study, 167 listed themselves as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or "other".

‘Of that group, 51% of LGB or other respondents claimed to have been stopped by police, with a third saying they were also physically harassed.

‘For the trans participants, this figure was much higher, 59% said they had been stopped by police, and almost half of them had been physically harassed.’

Of the non-LGBT residents questioned, only 28% had claimed to have been stopped and frisked.

Jackson Heights councilman Daniel Dromm believes that the police should be doing more to build trust with LGBT people.

Speaking to local news website DNAinfo.com, he said: ‘The majority of LGBTQ people who have come to this neighbourhood, or who live in this neighbourhood, in many instances have come to live here because of persecution in their own country only to face further persecution in this country.’

Speaking at an event held at Make the Road’s office in Jackson Heights on Tuesday (23 October), several members of the trans community said they were being accused of being sex workers.

Christina, a transwoman who spoke at the event, claimed she was accused of being a sex worker after police officers frisked her and found condoms in her bra.

She said ‘After seeing the condoms they asked if I was sure that I was not working. I told them that I was with my boyfriend and they said that he was not my boyfriend.’

Make the Road organizer Karina Caudio-Betancourt hopes this study will help to raise awareness of how LGBTQ people are targeted by the police.

She said: ‘We’ve reached out to them, and they’re aware the report is out.

‘We want to engage in a more thorough conversation with them, specifically about the demands that are more directed towards the precincts.’

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