General News

Trans woman files lawsuit against the NYPD

Rachel Badham February 14, 2021

DeAnna LeTray, a trans woman living in Watertown, New York has filed a lawsuit against the state police department after claiming to have been unlawfully detained, harassed and sexually assaulted by officers in 2017. According to the 22-page complaint filed by LeTray, she contacted the police after a dispute with her landlord where he threatened to shoot her. Police did not believe LeTray’s story, and then arrested her after finding a small amount of MDMA in her purse.

LeTray reports being frequently misgendered by the police, and said she was sexually assaulted during a strip search. In a statement accompanying the complaint, she said she decided to file the lawsuit because she didn’t “want anyone to go through the abuse I experienced from people that were supposed to protect me.” She added: “The police were called for help. Instead, I was misgendered, assaulted, and dehumanized.”

Police violence against trans people is not uncommon in America, with a 2015 report from the National Center for Trans Equality finding 58% of respondents who had interacted with the police at some point in time were mistreated, harassed or assaulted. However, 2021 has seen the repeal of the anti-loitering ‘walking while trans’ law, which was frequently used by police as an excuse to harass people who were perceived to be transgender, as well as people of colour.

Human Rights Campaign president, Alphonso David, praised the decision to repeal the law, saying: “After years of fighting alongside partners and advocates to end what has become stop-and-frisk for transgender women of color, tonight the ‘Walking While Trans’ era is finally over. Thanks to the swift action by Governor Cuomo, transgender New Yorkers can no longer be profiled and arrested for doing nothing more than standing or walking on the street.”