Advocates Speak Out Against Arrest Of Trans Protester

Jun 30, 2020

Local LGBTQ+ advocates have issued a statement condemning the Carbondale Police Department for how they handled the arrest of a protester on June 28th.

Witnesses said the protester was slammed against a car and others who tried to intervene were pepper-sprayed. A police press release referred to the individual with male pronouns and gave a name they do not currently use. According to friends, she goes by Cat.

O.J Duncan, Vice Chair of Rainbow Café, said they are speaking out against what they say is an excessive use of force, as well as the police misgendering the individual and deadnaming them. Deadnaming refers to the practice of using the name a transgender individual was given and used prior to transitioning. Deadnaming is often used to dehumanize trans people and also outs them as trans.

Duncan said the Rainbow Café would like to see the police department make it a policy to ask detained people for their preferred name and pronouns. He also said any polices that prohibit the department from using someone’s current name and pronouns should be examined.

The police department issued a statement which said the name they used was the only one provided during the arrest and cannot correct their release unless new information is provided by the person who was arrested. Police said the individual did not inform officers they were transgender or used a different name at the time of the arrest.

Duncan said when dealing with situations where someone is misgendered or deadnamed, it’s important to put it into the context of violence faced by the trans community. A survey from the National Center for Transgender Equity found that 30% of transgender people have experienced verbal or physical harassment at work, 48% experienced verbal harassment outside of work, 9% experienced physical assault, and 10% experienced sexual assault.