A transgender woman has filed a lawsuit against the city and several police officers who allegedly humiliated her and chained her to a wall inside the station house for 28 hours after she was arrested in the subway. According to the lawsuit, which you can read in full below, Temmie Breslauer was arrested by an undercover cop last month for illegally using her father’s discount fare card at the 125th Street subway station. Breslauer, whose legal name is Todd, is a transgender person undergoing hormone replacement therapy and intends to undergo genital reassignment surgery. She alleges that police "targeted" her because of her appearance, and then prolonged her booking so they could torment her.
According to the lawsuit (below), as soon as Breslauer entered the precinct station house, an African American desk sergeant asked plaintiff whether she had a penis or a vagina, adding, "Have you had the surgery DOWN THERE?" The desk sergeant told Breslauer she needed this information because she needed to know "what to do with you." Breslauer showed her a note from her doctor explaining that she is undergoing a gender change and should be "allowed access to facilities... appropriate to her gender identity."
Instead, Breslauer claims she was "painfully chained to a fence wherein, for no apparent reason, her arm was lifted over her head and attached to the fence to make it appear that she was raising her hand in the classroom. She sat there in that position for 28 hours." While others were processed and given a desk appearance ticket in a timely manner, Breslauer says she was detained for over a day "to punish her for not revealing the state of her genitalia." It gets worse. The lawsuit alleges:
The police officers in the precinct acted with puerility and disgrace, making insulting remarks continually through this period. In addition to the snickering desk sergeant who disdainfully asked plaintiff not her gender but her genitalia, various other officers said things such as "He-She", "What are you supposed to be?" "Faggot," " Lady GaGa", "Transvestite." Officer Bryant said, "So you like to suck dick? Or what?" "Is it Halloween?" one John Doe said.
The officers refused to refer to her by her preferred gender. She was continually referred to as “he,” “sir” and more often, “buddy,” a semi-derisive name like “lady” that the police typically use with men. 21. Plaintiff was deliberately placed six feet in front of the male holding tank, where men, six feet away acted as belligerently as the police officers. She was, at various intervals throughout the evening, taunted, propositioned and targeted with sundry projectiles, like crumpled paper balls and soda cans.
Finally, after languishing for 28 hours, Breslauer was taken to Central Booking—but her police escort then told her Central Booking did not have a place for her. Back she went to the station house, and after another eight hours chained to the wall, she says she was brought back to 100 Centre Street to see a judge. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two days of community service. But the ordeal triggered Breslauer's pre-existing PTSD and she's considered suicide.
Breslauer's lawyer, Gregory Antollino, tells us, "Suffering and humiliation by transgender people at the hands of the police, such as the suffering exemplified by Temmie’s experience, is all too common. This lawsuit seeks monetary damages for Temmie and written changes in police policies for treating transgender arrestees. A police precinct is a public accommodation and no one should have to answer questions about the state of his or her genitalia to be treated with decency, fairly, and within the bounds of the law."
Jezebel, which first reported Breslauer's lawsuit, notes that her treatment isn't an isolated incident—another transgender person says he receives very similar treatment at the hands of the NYPD after being arrested at an Occupy Wall Street protest in October. The Bilerco Project reports that after his arrest, Justin Adkins was treated like "a zoo specimen to be chained to a wall, his arm sometimes painfully twisted behind his back, for over eight hours in a foully unclean toilet, without food or water, and a source of amusement as police officers pointed him out, sadistically laughing and giggling at him because of his transgender identity."
The NYPD currently has no official guidelines for how to process transgender arresetees. Though activists say the NYPD is open to "conversations" about this, the department has been sued at least four times for allegedly violating the civil rights of transgender women, according to a group of transgender advocates and lawyers. Add another one to the list: