Author Andrea Ritchie talks to Salon about how police brutality affects trans and gender-nonconforming people
Tuesday, Aug 15, 2017
Ritchie sat down in Salon’s studios recently for a discussion on her research.
How police often take it upon themselves to police gender expression:
I think we tend to acknowledge, very much, the role of police in enforcing the lines of race, often enforcing the lines of class in police poverty. I don’t think we often see the role police play in enforcing the lines of gender, and that has played out historically and continues to play out, and in fact is ramping up under these laws that are being advanced in places like Texas and around the country, in North Carolina originally, around trans and gender-nonconforming folks uses of public spaces like bathrooms.
How police manipulate nuisance ordinances to harass trans and gender nonconforming people:
People don’t think about who’s enforcing those laws. If there’s a moment where someone decides that they have a concern about who might be in a bathroom, the police are the ones who are called. And law or no law, they will use whatever laws are available — disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, making them up. They will make up offenses, literally about being in a bathroom without following whatever non-existent rule might exist.
Police police gender every day, even just in the context of ‘broken windows’ policing, when they decide who feels ‘disorderly’, who looks quote-unquote ‘suspicious.’ They will often read gender nonconformity, particularly in combination with race and poverty, to embody disorder.