Law Enforcement | New York | News | Occupy Wall Street | Transgender

Transgender 'Occupy Wall Street' Protester Segregated, Humiliated by NYPD During Arrest, Detention

Justin Adkins, a transgender activist and Assistant Director of the Multicultural Center at Williams College, was arrested as part of the "Occupy Wall Street" protest on October 1 at the Brooklyn Bridge.

Adkins In a statement released to the public (read it below), Adkins details his mistreatment by the NYPD because of the fact that he is a transgender man. Adkins said he identified himself as transgender from the moment he was arrested. That, however, did not prevent a humiliating sequence of events from occurring which included a disrespectful genital pat down, being segregated from others arrested at the protest and being placed in a cell with violent criminals, being chained to the wall of the only working restroom in the jail for 8 hours. Being denied three requests for food while others at the protest were fed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and water.

Writes Adkins:

At one point the woman (another protester) I had spoken with earlier was brought into use the toilet. When she entered the room she looked shocked and asked why I was attached to the railing. I told her again that it was the "transgender special". She clearly understood that I was being discriminated against because of my transgender status. She asked the female officer in the room why I couldn't be given my own cell and the officer said "you don't know why he is locked up here” the woman said that she did know and that I should at least be given my own cell if they were not going to house me with the male protestors I was originally arrested with.

Throughout the night it became clear that they wanted my fellow protestors to think that I did something criminally wrong. That I had done something different from them. That I was not just a peaceful protestor exercising my rights on that bridge. That I deserved to be handcuffed to a railing in the side of the precinct with violent criminals. Everyone seemed to wonder why I had been separated. When other officers chatted amongst themselves about why I was separated, one officer suspected aloud that I was a "ringleader". The woman officer stood a few times outside the glass wall with the door open as male officers asked about me. It appeared that she told them that I was transgender as they gawked, giggled and stared at me.

Adkins says he hopes that his story will shine some light on the lack of protocol regarding transgender people by the NYPD: "No one should experience the blatant discrimination and embarrassment that I did."

Read Adkins' statement, below.

Police Mistreatment of Transgender Man

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  1. And police brutality over a Wall Street anything surprises us why?

    Posted by: Rin | Oct 4, 2011 9:11:15 AM

  2. Does any one think THIS might get Christine Quinn to address the NYPD handling of the
    protesters? Or will she continue to be Mike Bloomberg's "hand maiden"?

    Posted by: mcNnyc | Oct 4, 2011 9:43:28 AM

  3. Extremely sad account to read, so degrading. Didn't the NYPD just accept a transgendered man into the ranks?

    This is one of those stories where you want to be surprised, but you most certainly aren't. The demographics of most who go into the police force are a clear indication of why we stories of police brutality against LGBT citizens so common. The same good 'ole boys club mentality as always.

    Hopefully he sues the NYPD and this story goes national. This is the type of story we can't allow go without hell being raised and hell being payed.

    Posted by: Francis | Oct 4, 2011 9:52:58 AM

  4. Incidents like this one shake my confidence in the NYPD. The NYPD has made enormous strides to serve the LGBT community and minority communities. However, the arrest and degrading treatment of this activist is completely unacceptable, even repellent.

    Just last week, we read a letter from the victim of the Stonewall bashing praising both the NYPD and District Attorney's office. This incident brings shame to the NYPD and will surely be investigated by the City Council.

    Posted by: Xavi | Oct 4, 2011 10:04:09 AM

  5. Well, what that obviously means, Xavi, is that they may be OK with the gays overall but their tolerance level ends and ignorance begins when it comes to transgendered individuals.

    Posted by: Francis | Oct 4, 2011 10:23:22 AM

  6. @Francis, I would surely hope the NYPD would support ALL members of the the LGBT community and not just gays, lesbians and bi-sexual members. Trans members should trust, not fear, our law enforcement officers. Absurd to think the NYPD would view trans people any differently than gay people, bi people, ethnic minorities, whatever, call me overly idealistic...

    Posted by: Xavi | Oct 4, 2011 12:30:18 PM

  7. I would hope so too, Xavi, but unfortunately, apparently they don't given their behavior towards the man dressed in drag and Mr. Adkins. I don't expect much from police officers in terms of smarts, awareness or social enlightenment. And the lack of responses to this post by members here speak volumes as well.

    Posted by: Francis | Oct 4, 2011 12:42:32 PM

  8. @Francis, I am also disheartened by the apathy, or even disdain, fellow gay men have towards the trans community. Very sad, so sad...

    I do not respect gay men with nasty views towards others, trans phobia, antisemitism, racism; so ugly, so unattractive, so totally unsexy.

    Oh, of course, how could one forget the myriad misogynistic, self-hating posters claiming effeminate men are not "real men". That nasty "Rich" fellow comes to mind.

    Posted by: Xavi | Oct 4, 2011 1:34:33 PM

  9. This pisses me off. I know Justin from working in student affairs, and I am appalled at the treatment of NYPD. I am also appalled that there is not more coverage of the occupation.

    Posted by: Jefe | Oct 4, 2011 1:43:34 PM

  10. This kind of stuff just slays me. Where's the simple human decency? Who cares what sex/gender he is, just treat him like a human being for fk's sake and keep your adolescent sexual jollies for your beer buddies.

    Posted by: David R. | Oct 4, 2011 2:10:16 PM

  11. "Violent criminals," huh? I think you mean "people of color who are routinely criminalized every day in this city and do not have a press machine to inform the public about how they experienced minor inconvenience by the NYPD."

    It is this kind of privilege-blind myopia that makes this movement seem like a joke.

    Posted by: ADELE | Oct 4, 2011 2:34:52 PM

  12. Agree 100, Xavi, especially that vile trash individual Rick, who also goes by Jason and several other names. But it goes to show that being gay doesn't immune one to bigotry.

    And the reality is, David, human decency doesn't come when someone doesn't respect you as a human in the first place. And that's essentially what stories like this boil down to. A complete and utter lack of any sort of respect or regard (in fact, holding complete contempt and disdain towards for a person) towards an individual, in this case, because of that individual being trans.

    Posted by: Francis | Oct 4, 2011 2:50:46 PM

  13. @ FRANCIS: I know, but it's still hard for me to understand how people, even police, can get so dissociated. I know we've seen it throughout history and our own times but it still surprises me.

    When I was in college, my bf was on a study of Chicago cops. He rode with them on duty for a year. In his experiences, he only met one cop whom he thought wasn't a jerk. Of course, law enforcement tends to collect those people who see the world in black and white/us vs. them, and if they don't start out that way, they tend to get that way unless they have REALLY good staff development and counseling.


    Posted by: David R. | Oct 4, 2011 3:09:24 PM

  14. Opps: "who he thought" not "whom he thought". Blush.

    Posted by: David R. | Oct 4, 2011 3:10:22 PM

  15. @ Adele


    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Oct 4, 2011 3:24:31 PM

  16. It is hard to wrap the head around, David, but that's because we're not emotionally damaged or emotionally dead. Like you said, law enforcement tends to be filled with those who have a me vs. them attitude. Most tend to get weathered down and hardened by their jobs as policemen and policewomen. Most tend to be quite angry individuals, and have a chip on their shoulders. You're BF is right. Most cops aren't very nice people.

    When it comes to the gay thing, law enforcement is generally a very conservative place, very frat-like, and tends to be very hyper-aggressive. They see gay people as weak, so they tend to disparage and discriminate against us. I wish I could say I trust them to do their job if I ever needed them in a potential gay bashing situation or anything of the like, but the reality is, by and large, law enforcement is made up of people who don't like us, respect us and won't have our backs. That's why it's of the most importance we protect ourselves and each other first and foremost.

    Posted by: Francis | Oct 4, 2011 3:50:44 PM

  17. Just pointing out that the editor/ writer capitalized justin's name, when he clearly wrote it uncapitalized in his letter. I would suggest changing it, as not capitalizing is a legitimate movement of it's own, and worth respecting. I'm sure it was simply a mistake or oversight, but it should be corrected if possible. Otherwise it's a great article, thanks for helping spread this story.

    Posted by: SV | Oct 4, 2011 11:02:10 PM

  18. i don't know why, but the female officer in the story pisses me off the most. i guess i would expect more from a woman. she seems to have been using Justin as her entertainment for hours. this from a police officer is unacceptable and she needs to be held accountable for her behavior if not fired along with the officer who handcuffed him there.

    Posted by: Sur | Oct 4, 2011 11:21:30 PM

  19. @ Adele, unless you were there, you don't know that they were or were not violent criminals. Also, I wouldn't call this a "minor inconvenience." Mr. adkins was chained to a wall while everyone else was allowed a cell. Clearly he received more of an "inconvenience" than the others.

    Posted by: Jaqueline | Oct 4, 2011 11:31:27 PM

  20. @ Adele
    **"Violent criminals," huh? I think you mean "people of color who are routinely criminalized every day in this city and do not have a press machine to inform the public about how they experienced minor inconvenience by the NYPD."

    It is this kind of privilege-blind myopia that makes this movement seem like a joke.**

    "People of color" huh? Funny how YOU assume those in that cell described by Justin as "criminals" were all of an ethnic background, and somehow Justin is the blind one? Sounds like you are the one who is blinded by race. The only way we will ever be free of racism is if ALL RACES quit seeing RACE when they look at a person or a story.

    Posted by: TiredOfRacismOnBOTHsides | Oct 5, 2011 2:47:01 AM

  21. Frankly I would like to hear the Whole story. In other words there are two sides to every story. Perhaps Mr. Adkins became agressive and the cops had to restrain him. Perhaps he said something suspicious. All we know is what Mr. Adkins says.

    Posted by: Lou | Oct 5, 2011 1:40:34 PM

  22. What a foul way to treat a fellow human being. Like some sort of zoo animal! Poor man.

    Posted by: Yulia | Oct 5, 2011 2:57:27 PM

  23. @Lou: I do not want to hear the police side of the story, because that story is often a blatant lie. I know Justin Adkins personally, and I highly doubt he said a word to the cops or behaved "aggressively." Why would a trans person, who knows he's already risking mistreatment by the police, say or do anything to increase that risk? Justin's a very intelligent man. And see previous comments about police mistreatment of people of color.

    Posted by: Springbyker | Oct 5, 2011 8:36:23 PM

  24. Sur, you shouldn't be surprised by the female cop. Cops are cops. Male and female, they're all the same aggressive, narcissistic and homophobic group on the whole. It's just a shame innocent people like Justin get hurt at the hands of cruel bullies with a badge.

    Posted by: Francis | Oct 5, 2011 9:03:40 PM

  25. My eyes hurt from reading this. Please don't use white on black.

    Posted by: Liz Church | Oct 7, 2011 1:42:32 AM

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