Strategic Defense
From A Former Prosecutor

Trans women and California police: Report shows troubling data

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2022 | Criminal Defense

No one can dispute the fact that your chances of being arrested and how you’re treated by law enforcement and the justice system as a whole are at least partially determined by your identity. Even in California, which is one of the more progressive and diverse states, some groups are more likely to attract the attention of police than others.

California’s Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board (RIPA) was created six years ago to study law enforcement profiling of people based on their race and/or disability and how their identity affects their treatment at the hands of police.

The report looked at 18 agencies throughout California

The latest RIPA annual report encompasses data from 18 law enforcement agencies across the state for 2020. For the first time, the report includes an analysis of how transgender people are treated by police as well as how gender identity and race factor in.

Among the findings are the following:

  •         Trans women (or at least those perceived as trans women) were detained, searched and or handcuffed at a rate of 2.5 times that of cisgender women (those who were born female).
  •         Almost 29% of trans women who were stopped by police were arrested.

According to RIPA, “The data showed that regardless of race or ethnicity, there were large disparities in the search and discovery rates for transgender individuals.”

Other findings

Much of the data continues to reflect the fact that some people are more likely to be stopped by police than others. Those who are LGBTQ (or perceived to be) are still more likely to be stopped based on “reasonable suspicion” than those perceived to be heterosexual.

Race continues to be an overwhelming factor in whether and how police interact with people. The latest findings show that black people are 2.5 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white people are.

The intersection of race and gender identity when it comes to policing is particularly troubling because Black trans women need the protection of law enforcement – not profiling. Last year saw more murders of trans women than any previous year – and that statistic was reached in November. Most were trans women of color.

The RIPA board recommends more training of officers as well as more work by police within these communities to help better understand them and how much protection they need. In the meantime, if you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, it’s crucial to seek legal guidance.