Trans women Gabriela Amaya Cruz (above) and Jae Bucci claim they were mistreated in a Miami jail (Instagram/@ladyparaiso)
Two trans women have described the “dehumanising” treatment they faced at the hands of police after being arrested at a Black trans lives matter demonstration.
Gabriela Amaya Cruz and Jae Bucci were among more than 30 people taken into custody and charged with “obstructing the roadway” after a peaceful protest on July 19.
They soon experienced the very brutality they were protesting against as officers allegedly misgendered them and interrogated them about their genitalia.
“My genitals were just a topic of conversation throughout most of the night,” Cruz told the Miami Herald. “It’s disgusting that genitals at the end of the day are the only validation in their eyes of what it means to be female.”
She says two male officers attempted to frisk search her, despite her repeated insistence that she was a woman.
“They pointed at my genitals and said: ‘You have a penis, therefore you are going to be treated as a man.’ Then I stepped back and I was like: ‘No, I am a trans woman, and I want to be treated as a woman.’”
You know you’re not a woman, you know it.
Meanwhile, Bucci was allegedly ordered to sit in a holding area with men, having been told her genitalia would pose a “threat” to other women.
When she declined she says she was told: “You are trans, you have a d**k, you’re still a man. You have not cut it off, so you are still a man, until you remove that you are a man.”
“You know you’re not a woman, you know it,” she says another guard told her.
Bucci was then given an ultimatum: sit with the men or be put in solitary confinement. She chose the latter, feeling she would be unsafe if she were held with men.
When she later left the solitary cell she says a guard outed her as a trans woman in front of other officers and male inmates. Several men laughed and grabbed their crotches while staring at her, she added.
Although Bucci has ID indicating she is a woman, a corrections officer told her that her intake forms would be changed to state that she was a man. She is now misgendered, listed as male in the criminal case docket for her charges online.
Two trans women were ordered to change into unisex clothing to leave jail.
Neither Cruz nor Bucci were allowed to leave wearing the clothes they arrived in, and were instead forced to wear unisex clothing provided by the jail.
“We have policies, you are a man leaving prison so you cannot wear women’s clothing, you are a man, we don’t allow cross dressing,” Bucci says one guard told her.
Both women are disgusted by their treatment in the jail, and Bucci plans to launch a civil action lawsuit in retaliation.
“How can you force me to sit with men if my sex says female? That doesn’t make any sense” she said. “They need to create a standard on how to handle or treat trans people. They cannot just put us in solitary, that is not okay.”
“I felt completely dehumanised and very embarrassed with how I entered the jail versus how I left the jail,” Cruz added. “I think there has to be more education on LGBT+ folks that enter the jail.”
Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department spokesperson Juan Diasgranados would not comment on the two women’s allegations of mistreatment, but confirmed it is jail policy to take genitalia of a transgender person into consideration when deciding where to place them.