Sex and gender at work, in bed, and on the street

The trans woman vs. the D.C. police officer

December 14, 2010 - 02:30 PM
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On the morning of Dec. 1, D.C. police officer Raphael Radon became engaged in an altercation with 25-year-old trans woman Chloe Moore.

Exactly what transpired depends on who you ask: Radon (and a police report taken in the incident) claims that Moore and another trans woman approached him while he was off-duty, offered him sex for money, and then sprayed him in the face with pepper spray when he told them he was "not into guys." Moore contests that story:

According to Moore (and a couple of eyewitnesses), Moore and her friend approached Radon for a cigarette light. Upon realizing that Moore was trans, Radon allegedly called her a man, ridiculed her, and then pushed her. Moore says she sprayed Radon in the face out of panic and ran, at which point Radon allegedly chased her down, threw her to the ground, and forcefully detained her.

The U.S. Attorney's Office has so far privileged Radon's account: Moore has been charged with simple assault in the incident, while the MPD officer hasn't been charged with a thing.

Moore has pleaded not guilty to the assault charge, and the case is gearing up for a messy legal battle: Local trans activists have rallied around Moore, unnamed police sources have corroborated Moore's story with the Blade, and D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier has said that her Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the incident.

When it comes to anti-trans attitudes within the D.C. police force, Moore's claims are hardly isolated; local trans women have reported being harassed by police based on their gender identity, assumed to be sex workers, and misidentified as men in police holding cells.

It's worth noting that as Moore's case is processed in the courts, she'll be suffering a further indignity: According to court documents, She's being charged under her legal name, Alexander Moore. That's not to say that the court has much choice in the matter. But the detail helps show the institutions of the criminal justice system can sometimes help to reinforce anti-trans bias, lending support to a police officer who views a trans woman's identity as somehow less than real. Even in Radon's most sympathetic account of the incident, he admits to calling Moore a "guy."

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