New Report on Discrimination Against Latina Transgender Women by Law Enforcement

In a new report titled Interactions of Latina Transgender Women with Law Enforcement , researchers explore the extent of discrimination and mistreatment that Latina transgender women living in Los Angeles, California experience from the very people whose job it is to uphold justice. The report was developed by BIENESTAR, a non-profit organization serving the Latino/a LGBT community, in collaboration with the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, and was funded by the Williams Institute of UCLA.

Drawing on information provided by over 200 Latina transgender women living in Los Angeles County, findings of the report indicate staggering amounts of harassment, abuse, neglect, and targeted profiling on the part of law enforcement. According to the report, two-thirds of the transgender women surveyed experienced some form of verbal abuse from law enforcement, while 21% experienced physical assault and 24% experienced sexual assault. Of those who attempted to report such misconduct by the police, two-thirds said their report had been handled “poorly” or “very poorly.”

Among Latina transgender women who had been jailed, 30% said they were verbally assaulted by other inmates, 11% said they were physically assaulted, and 10%said they were sexually assaulted. After reporting these incidents of mistreatment by fellow inmates, 70% of transgender women reported that law enforcement either responded negatively or did not respond to the incident at all.

Given the level of discrimination and abuse they suffer, it is unsurprising that even though 55% of Latina transgender women interviewed said they have been victims of a crime by others, only half of them reported those crimes to the police. Of those that did report crimes committed against them to law enforcement, 57% said they were treated poorly or very poorly by the police. The report concludes by articulating the great need for law enforcement trainings on sensitivity towards the transgender community, particularly towards transgender women and transgender people of color. Furthermore, the report suggests, information about legal rights should be shared more broadly among the transgender community, in addition to increased communication between the police and transgender women.

GLAAD thanks BIENESTAR, the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, and the Williams Institute for bringing this important information to light, and urges the media to utilize this report when covering transgender issues.