Autumn Sandeen, First Class Petty Officer who retired in 2000 from the U.S. Navy after twenty years of service, was one of the protesters arrested at last week's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" action in front of the White House.
In a post on Pam's House Blend, Sandeen discusses the slurs she endured as a transgender woman during her processing:
President Obama, U.S Marshals processed me into the DC Superior Courthouse. Apparently, these federal officers thought it was humorous that I, as a uniformed transgender veteran, was being processed into this U.S. Government facility. Many of them were pointing and laughing at me. The one caucasian, female U.S. Marshal who had her curly blond hair up in a bun — dressed in a fuchsia, lightly ruffled blouse, a black blazer and slacks–kept raising her fist up and yelling out "Go Navy."
My peer female protesters — Cadet Mara Boyd, and Cpl. Evelyn Thomas — were in a holding cell behind the U.S. Marshal's station. They heard that same U.S. Marshal in the fuchsia blouse state the following to one of her peer officers (emphasis added):
"Did you see it? The nerve of it to be wearing a Navy uniform. Did you see the shim in the Navy Uniform?"
Calling transgender people "it" is clearly a way of dehumanizing transgender people. "Shim" — a term relative to "she-male" — is also a dehumanizing term to identify transgender people. President Obama, your U.S. Marshal calling me "it" and "the shim" is the equivalent to calling an African-American by the n-word, or calling a Gay-American by the antigay f-word, it is absolutely unacceptable.
I believe the behavior of your U.S. Marshal's sent the message to the prisoners that your representatives wouldn't protect me if these prisoners had sought to physically harm me — because I was a less than human, a "shim." At no time did any officer correct or dissuade any of the other officers from such offensive behaviors. In fact, they seemed to feel comfortable in doing so around each other, even in front of other prisoners.