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.

Reports Hollywood Laist on a meeting that happened this week:

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 individualís 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.

Related Reading:

Wisconsin’s Anti-Trans Prison Law Struck Down

I Am More Than Just My Gender Says Trans Video Project

Dear Mark, End Facebook’s Restrictive Gender Labels

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Cliff1066


Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

James Campbell
James Campbell5 years ago

Philip A. “If you want to quietly murder people, become a doctor or nurse”.

As a doctor I suppose I should be offended and rather indignant at what you say ... :)

However, in essence it is true. Professions can attract some of the best and some of the worst. Doctors save lives, but some actually take lives. Police Officers protect the public, but some of the public, especially those who are vulnerable in some way, need protection from the police .....

James Campbell
James Campbell5 years ago

Muriel C. “if you're born a moron, there is very little you can do to change that.”

Brilliant - I wish I had said that! John M.’s contribution to a discussion relating to any similar subject is exactly the same mantra of 13 words (which fail to make any sense at all) I have asked him repeatedly to explain more fully what he means , but he appears to have run out of of words ......

Rose Becke6 years ago


Donna B.
Donna B6 years ago

Such a darned shame. Don't know what else to say. Everyone deserves respect though.

J.L. A.
JL A6 years ago

Clearly the police need training of their duties to provide equal protection under the law, along with specialized sensitivity training for this population like they have had to have regarding victims and persons with developmental and other disabilities in the past (and sometimes present)

Victoria S.
Victoria S6 years ago

What terrible discrimination :-(

Past Member
Past Member 6 years ago

A) Latina trans =/= prostitute.
B) Who said they have the right to treat prostitutes that way?

Stefanie D.
Stefanie D.6 years ago

no doubt, macho gun-slinging 'law enforcement' attracts a mass number of trigger-happy goons, as does the military. pity those who are worthy of such a job, must work amongst so many meat-heads really.
... a Terrorist, would pale by comparison, because they cannot 'blend in' as well.
Wall Street thugs... Healthcare HMOs (the SiCKO! effect)... etc, etc. Prison systems...
Anti-Social Bullies exist at every level in society, especially in the working institutions.

Ian Fletcher
Ian Fletcher6 years ago

A little respect please, gays and trans are much better for society than any right-winger will ever be.