Repeated police violence against trans*of color – a press release from LesMigraS and GLADT.

On October 23, 2013, one of our employees was arrested together with three other protesters at a rally against police violence and arrests of activists of the refugee protest camp at Oranienplatz (Berlin-Kreuzberg). During the police custody, which lasted about an hour, the police officers behaved in a discriminatory and violent manner towards our colleague. In the process, his basic rights, which any state and executive authority is obligated to uphold according to the Basic Law, were strongly disregarded and violated.

Our employee was arrested on the basis of racial profiling (racial control). He experienced massive racist and transphobic discrimination and violence by Berlin police officers. This occurred through insults as well as humiliating, disrespectful racist and transphobic treatment including multiple attempted genital examinations. Instead of discreet and respectful behavior, the transidentity of our colleague became a spectacle and served to amuse the police officers. He was repeatedly asked many times whether he was a man or a woman, although he had already answered this question by saying that he was a trans* man. One of the policemen told his colleagues several times that they should pull down the pants of our employee so that the policemen could determine whether he was a man or a woman. Other police officers laughed smugly at this remark. The statement of our employee about his gender identity was apparently not enough for the police officers to take his personal data and so they finally announced that they would have to carry out an examination of his genitals. Our colleague pointed out to the police officers that there was an entry in his passport about his supposed gender and that they could check there. Nevertheless, the police officers insisted on examining his genitals. It is obvious that this transphobic harassment was not for policing purposes. We are appalled by this and condemn this police violence!

According to other cases of discrimination reported to us, the attempted forced genital examination of trans people by police officers under the pretext of determining gender identity is not an isolated case, but institutionalized semi-legal violence. It lies in the individual discretion of the police officers, if name and/or gender in identification documents do not match the appearance or the self-determined gender identity in their estimation. Transphobic structural violence also underlies this measure.

On the demand that our employee would only be granted the physical examination by a female police officer or a trans* police officer, the
Police officers in a cynical tone that there are no trans* people in the police. This is clearly wrong and trans-discriminatory. In addition to the transphobic discrimination and violence that our colleague had to endure, he was also treated in a racist manner by the police officers during his arrest and while in police custody. So a police officer ducked him and said, “What is this thing you call transphobia, dude?” Thereupon, our employee replied that the policeman was not allowed to address him as a first name, nor was he allowed to speak to him like that in general. The police officer replied, “I’ll do it anyway. What are you going to do about it? Are you going to cry?” We strongly condemn all this disrespectful, violent, harassing and degrading behavior of the police officers!

Every person has a right to sexual self-determination. Despite the official ban on discrimination against trans* people, trans* people still experience violence and discrimination in all areas of German society. This violence and discrimination happens on the streets, through structural discrimination in the labor market or in the school system, through the non-recognition and denial of self-determined gender identity by state institutions. It happens through the denial of adequate health care, through laws that force the medical-psychological pathologizations of trans* people in order to change names and/or marital status in official identification documents.

Being trans* is not a disease, but transphobia or trans* discrimination is a pathogenic and violent discrimination relationship. Trans* discrimination is a form of violence, as it violates the dignity and physical integrity of individuals, limits them, usually leaves psychological scars, and has health and financial consequences. Trans* discrimination and transphobia reinforce a coercive system of two genders assigned at birth.Gladt and LesMigraS understand transphobia and homophobia to mean any verbal, physical, institutional, and/or structural violence directed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer people’s ways of life.

Transphobia, trans*discrimination and homophobia are not individual problems of those affected, but must, just like e.g. racism or discrimination against
people with physical or mental impairments, be addressed and prevented at the community and society-wide level.

LesMigraS and Gladt, in cooperation with KoP (Campaign for Victims of Racist Police Violence), make the following demands:
– We demand a public statement and clarification of the incident on the part of the police headquarters under the leadership of Mr. Klaus Kandt on the racist and
trans* discriminatory treatment by police officers of the Berlin police.
– We call on the Berlin police to take responsibility for the discrimination and violence committed by its employees, to draw consequences from the discriminatory and violent behavior of its employees and to implement measures that prevent trans*discriminatory, racist, homophobic and other discriminatory actions and behaviors from continuing to happen unhindered.
– We call on the police to fully respect the self-determined gender identity (of trans* and inter*) people and to immediately stop such discriminatory and violent behavior, especially genital examinations!
– We call on the Berlin police to sensitize their employees to multiple discrimination through specialized staff in advanced training and education on trans* discrimination, violence and discrimination against intersex people, homophobia and multiple discrimination in general.
– We call for the establishment of an independent complaints service for reporting police discrimination and violence.

This press release is supported by the following organizations:
ReachOut- victim counseling and education against right-wing extremism, racism and anti-Semitism, TransInterQueer e.V. (TrIQ), Schwulenberatung Berlin gGmbH,
Sonntags-Club e.V. ABqueer e.V. and comot* bewegungskulturen & soziale arbeit.