After facing years of abuse from the Washington DC police department, Patti Shaw fought back and won. Although Patty had changed all of her identity documents, the Police compromised her safety and well being by refusing to house her with women. As a result of a settlement with advocate Patti Shaw, the Washington, DC Metro Police Department (MPD) has agreed to change its classification policy so that transgender detainees will be classified based on the gender listed on their ID (if they so wish).
Patti also won a cash settlement, part of which she plans to use to set up transitional housing for trans folks in DC, in collaboration with Casa de Ruby. You can read more about Patti here.
Patti suffered from a long history of violence and discrimination from the Municipal Police Department. The violence and discrimination that Shaw has faced as a black transgender woman is not exceptional. According to a 2011 survey of 6,450 transgender people by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, 40% of black transgender women reported being harassed by police, and nearly half of the respondents say they are uncomfortable seeking help from law enforcement. Twenty-one percent of transgender women and almost half of all black transgender people report having been in jail at least once. Once incarcerated, physical and sexual assault in jail and prison is a serious problem. 29% of black respondents who had been to jail or prison reported being physically assaulted and 32% reported being sexually assaulted in custody.
While we still have a long way to go in dismantling the system of mass incarceration that targets our communities, victories like Patti’s help to protect from some of the worst abuses.
You can read Transgender Law Center’s amicus brief in Patti’s case below: