Latina Trans Women Report Violence & Harassment from Police
A new report funded by the Williams Institute reveals high levels of reported harassment and assault that Latina transgender women face from law enforcement agencies.
Bienestar, a leading Latino community non-profit, developed the report in collaboration with Charles R. Drew of the University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, California. The report, “Interactions of Latina Transgender Women with Law Enforcement” is based on interviews with 220 Latina transgender women from the Los Angeles area.
The report’s key findings were shocking:
- Two-thirds of Latina trans women surveyed reported verbal harassment by law enforcement.
- 21% reported physical assault by law enforcement.
- 24% reported sexual assault by law enforcement.
- Almost 60% of those stopped by law enforcement in the previous year while doing everyday things like “coming back from the grocery store” and “waiting for the bus” said they believed they were stopped without having done anything unlawful.
Of those Latina trans women who lodged a report against the police, two-thirds said they felt the report had been “poorly” or “very poorly” handled.
Other key findings were:
- 71% of Latina trans women negatively described police interaction with the trans community, with typical responses including that police were aggressive and disrespectful.
- While 55% reported having been victims of crime, only 56% of those actually felt it was worth reporting the crime to the police.
- Of those reporting crimes, 57% said they had been treated poorly (35%) or very poorly (22%) by the police.
The report stresses how this negative view of the police leaves Latina trans women, and the trans community as a whole, vulnerable to violent crimes, discrimination and unlawful practices, without hope of remedy.
As noted in the report, these negative interactions with law enforcement result in the underutilization of police services by Latina transgender women needing such services.
The report is the most compehensive study to date to examine the relationship between Latina transgender women and their interactions with law enforcement.
“Encouraging organizations to conduct rigorous and groundbreaking research like Bienestar’s report is exactly the purpose of our small grants program, and we are pleased to have supported the study,” said Jody L. Herman, Ph.D., Peter J. Cooper Public Policy Fellow.
Like a handful of other law enforcement agencies, the LAPD has in recent weeks attempted to improve relations with the LGBT community.
New department guidelines are being introduced, and the LAPD says in a release those procedures are “designed to promote greater understanding and ensure police contacts with the transgender community are professional, respectful and courteous.”
Among the new guidelines are some matters of basic respect that actually need spelling out, including (and we quote) “the importance of not making the assumption a transgender person is involved in prostitution.”
Other issues of “respectful treatment” Beck will touch on during the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Community Forum will include a discussion of “appropriate language, acknowledgement of an individual’s preferred gender identity and expression, respect for privacy, [and] detailed standards for conducting field searches.”
The LAPD is also taking steps to amend processing procedures so that when dealing with trans inmates they can ensure that paperwork is dealt with thoroughly and in a timely manner while at all times respecting the person’s gender identity.
To read the complete Williams Institute-backed report please click here.