It has been a few weeks since the NYPD announced on June 12th that they are amending their patrol guide to include information on how to treat transgender and gender nonconforming people.
I am an abolitionist; I believe that the prison industrial complex is not serving anyone, especially people of color and gender nonconforming folks. While I applaud the work that many people, including the NYPD LGBT Advisory Panel and LGBT advocacy groups throughout the city have done over the years, I am still concerned.
The changes to the NYPD patrol guidelines also make the NYPD consistent with the city’s Human Rights Law. In April 2002, the New York City Human Rights Law, located in Title 8 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York, was amended to make it clear that an individual’s gender identity is an area of protection under the law. It has been clear since 2002 that gender nonconforming people are included.
However, the NYPD seems to follow its own set of guidelines and this change to the patrol guidelines was necessary. Theses changes are something that I and many others have been calling for for years. The new guidelines protect gay and lesbian people as well by prohibiting the use of discourteous or disrespectful remarks regarding a person’s sexual orientation in addition to a person’s gender identity/expression.
However, these guidelines do not stop people from being stopped and frisked. In October 2011, when I was arrested on Brooklyn Bridge as part of an Occupy Wall Street action, I was arrested because of my political stance, not because of who I am. I was mistreated because I am trans but my arrest was not because I am gender nonconforming. According to the NYCLU, in the first three months of 2012, New Yorkers were stopped by the police under stop and frisk 203,500 times. 54% of those stopped in the beginning of 2012 were black, 33% latino and 89% were found innocent. We need to all band together and be clear that we do not want to live in a police state.