City leaders push to repeal 'Walking While Trans' law

City leaders are encouraging the state to change what they say is an archaic law that unfairly targets Black and Latinx transgender people.

News 12 Staff

Dec 4, 2020, 3:53 AM

Updated 1,266 days ago

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City leaders are encouraging the state to change what they say is an archaic law that unfairly targets Black and Latinx transgender people.
Advocates pushed for the repeal of the so-called Walking While Trans law before a City Council committee hearing.
Little details like a bra strap, tight pants or an Adam's apple have landed many members of the trans community behind bars. Advocates say penal law section 240.37, known as Walking While Trans, allows police officers to single out and arrest people suspected of prostitution and specifically targets Black and Latinx trans communities. Officers can stop someone for what they are wearing.
Three years ago, TS Candii moved to the Bronx from Atlanta for a clean slate. But she didn't get the welcome she expected. Instead, she claims New York Police Department vice officers gave her an ultimatum.
"I had to give oral sex to both officers. So that's what I did because I had no other choice," she says.
It's a common story in the trans community.
"I literally had on -- so funny -- some sweats and a tank top. That's it. And some flip flops. For simply standing outside at a stop sign, and for them identifying me as a transgender woman because of my Adam's apple," she said.
Two resolutions in discussion push for the state Legislature to pass the bill, which would repeal the Walking While Trans law and retroactively seal prior violations and convictions. City Councilmember Vanessa Gibson and the executive director of Black Trans Nation says it's appalling the bill is still on the books.
The city council has no authority over state law, but Gibson says she wants to do what she can to protect the transgender, gender nonconforming, and intersex -- or TGNCI -- community.
"Working with the NYPD, law enforcement, what can we do to change the behavior of law enforcement and others? How we can continue to focus on culture training and bias and anti-bias sensitivity training?" she said.
The Walking While Trans law is one of only two violations in the penal code that cannot be sealed now.
Gibson is optimistic it will be passed when the new state Legislature session begins in January.


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