Transexual Activist Maria Louise Roman was assaulted, discriminated against and wrongly incarcerated – ironically, after a taping of "Transamerica" segment for Spanish TV Talk Show Cristina.
This letter comes directly from her.
I am writing this letter to give you a snapshot of how I was assaulted, ridiculed, humiliated and wrongly incarcerated while celebrating a successful taping of the Cristina Show. These events took place on March the 10th in the city of Miami.
Many Media outlets continue to perpetuate stereotypes and sensationalize our lives. It has been a long process but I am a firm believer that the only way we can influence change is by being involved in the process of creating this change. We cannot sit back and expect change to magically happen.
For this reason whenever there is an opportunity for me to be involved in how the media depicts my reality as a transgender women I am the first one to sign up.
On March the 10th I was panelist for an upcoming Cristina Show, a Spanish speaking International show that reaches millions of Spanish speaking homes in the US and Latin America. The taping of the show went very well; the questions were relevant and focused on the complexity of the transition process. They also discussed discrimination and rights of people of trans experience. The panel was very diverse, composed of both FTM and MTF people. It also included A 15 year old Argentinean transgender woman who was supported by her entire family.
After a successful taping there was much reason to celebrate, Little did I know that my celebration would not last long.
I went to a popular Miami club called Space, Accompanied by a friend. We had a drink, danced and enjoyed the scene, needless to say the club was packed.
About 40 minutes later while going to get a second drink, we were making our way though a very crowded club headed toward the bar. I was pushed by a man, and when I turned around he began yelling "Fuck! that's a man" To several of his friends, who then joined him in the name-calling as the pushing continued.
He then physically assaulted me. As the attack continued, security came to the scene and grabbed him. He was still calling me "you fucking faggot", even though he was restrained by security personnel.
In panic, in pain, dazed from the attack, I screamed to my friend, "he broke my nose!" I was also concerned about my safety because I did not know if the other individuals who accompanied him might also attack me in retaliation, after seeing their friend taken by security.
I decided to follow the security officers as they where escorted the man to the first level, telling them in bits and pieces what happened and how this man had attacked me unwarrantedly. I made it very clear to the security guards that I had intentions of filing charges of assault since I was physically attacked and I had not retaliated. When we got to the office, there were other men in uniforms and I assumed they were also security guards.
I asked them to call the police since I wanted to press charges against the man who had just assaulted me. To my surprise they informed me they were Miami Police Department Officers. One of them was a sergeant. I would find out later that the sergeant was also a bigot.
At that moment he ignored me and proceeded to ask the man who had attacked me what happened. I was furious at his apathy towards me, but remained calmed.
As he continued to ignore me he asked the Security Guards who escorted the man who attacked me, "WHAT DID HE DO?" (They used male pronouns to refer to me). I felt disrespected by his comment. I reached in my purse for my California Identification Card, which states my gender as female, hoping this would redirect focus to the assault and not my gender. I tried to tell the police about the assault, however it was difficult since their focus continued to be on my gender; snickering back and forth. Things were taking place quickly. The sergeant looked at me with a smirk on his face and told the security guard next to him "He has nice tits."
At that moment I realized that things were not going to move in my favor. Two security guards grabbed me by the arms and began escorting me down some stairs towards the entrance of the club. It was clear that they were escorting me out of the club however my concern was still focused on ensuring documentation of my attack. I continued questioning their behavior, repeating that "I was assaulted." I questioned why I was being escorted out of the club since, in fact, I was the victim of a crime. '
The circumstances that transpired during and after my assault were blatant violations of my rights, and negligence on the part of the police. I was forcefully detained by security for no reason and then placed in the back of a police car. At that moment it was clear to me they were arresting me, however I could not think of what they would charge me with since I had not committed a crime. During this ordeal I maintained restraint. I was never disrespectful to any of Police Officers or Security Personnel. I was humble but firm in pointing out the wrong-doing on their behalf.
I made it clear to the sergeant that I was going to do everything in my power to ensure that this does not continue to happen and that they would se me again. That the oath they took to protect and serve includes me, and that their discrimination and bigotry would not be silently ignored.
While being transferred to the car which would take me to county jail, the sergeant told one of his colleagues as my dress was lifted, "yes that's a man, but I would fuck him in his ass" And they all laughed. The humiliation was endless.
The only way I could let my anger and frustration out was by crying, at that moment I was so powerless. I have been fighting this kind of injustice for years, yet I was never a victim. And none of my many surgeries, speaking abilities, beauty, or the charm I have been told I possess, could make these people look at me as a woman. Because even though they did call me a man, I am certain that if two men had been involved in a physical altercation, both would have been arrested. Yet I was a victim of an assault and I was the only one incarcerated.
You would think my ordeal would have been over but it continued while being processed in the local county jail. I was stripped and searched, and paraded for all to view and laughed at. I continued to weep in anger and despair, I would spend the next 18 hours afraid for my safety, questioned about my gender, asked improper questions, and sexually molested.
I was assaulted, ridiculed, mistreated, and incarcerated because of who I am. As incredible as it may sound my sense of true self is offensive to even the people that take an oath to protect and serve us.
However I take an oath to my self and the rest of my community that I will continue to do anything and everything in my power to expose this bigotry, hate and perpetuate mistreatment by people in law enforcement and their apathy to crimes fueled by hate associated with our gender or sexual orientation.
At the present time I am continuing to work with the support of Ron Brenesky from "Unity Coalition", a local organization in Miami, along with Monica Taher who has been a great support. Currently Ron is contacting the local agencies trying to categorize this as a Hate Crime.
Under Florida law Transgender individuals are not recognized. So much work ahead for our community However I am only one person. Let’s continue to ensure that we all grow from our experiences by supporting our own and each other. Don't be silent. Let’s let them know that there are many of us and we have each others’ backs. Remember none of us are immune to acts such as this. I will be going to court in Miami in April on a false trespassing charge.
I would like your support. I want to send a clear message to the club and the police department that this kind of mistreatment will not be tolerated. If this type of neglect, discrimination and violation of our rights by police officers in Miami is an ongoing practice the time to put a stop to it is now.
PS: Even though this was a very traumatic time, my spirits are high and I am looking forward to continuing to fight this. My nose is a little to the right and the bruises in my arm are gone, otherwise I am all good. I thank God that I am here and that things did not escalate more.
Many men and women have lost their lives to crimes fueled by hate. On March the 10th at 1:35 am this kind of hate fueled a man to strike me simply because I was a transgender woman.
Maria Louise Roman
Proud Transgender Woman
Orgullosa de ser Latina
786 317 3557