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With trans citizens being arrested on accusations of prostitution for carrying condoms and people being chained up in police precincts just for being transgender, interacting with the police can be a frightening proposition for trans Americans, especially those of color. "For trans and gender non-conforming youth of color, police profiling and harassment are dark realities of every day life," says the Center for Urban Pedagogy, a New York based nonprofit that aims to use art to encourage civic engagement. "That's why CUP teamed up with Streetwise and Safe (SAS) and designer James Dunphy to create SERVE! Street Safety for Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Youth."
The guide, a pocket sized know-your rights manual only 12 pages long, aims to serve as a resource for trans and gender non-conforming youth who may find themselves being detained, searched, or thrown into custody by the police. Breaking down personal rights and NYPD patrol guide rules into an easily digestible format, SERVE! hopes to keep trans youth safe by keeping them informed. It even includes suggestions for terms and phrases trans citizens can use to assert their rights with the police.
Helpful tips covered in SERVE! include:
- In New York City, police aren't allowed to make disrespectful remarks based on gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
- New York police must use your preferred name and gender pronouns, even if it doesn't match your ID.
- It's against NYPD policy and your constitutional rights for police to search you just to assign you a gender. You can assert this right by saying "You can't search me or remove my clothes to determine my gender."
- At the precinct, you have the right to be searched by officers of the gender you request.
- You always have the right to remain silent, which you can express by saying, "I am going to remain silent."
In addition to these and other rights, SERVE! also covers steps those who feel as if their rights have been violated can take to seek justice, explaining what to write down when recording an illegal police encounter and how to report your complaints.
Available both as a free download and as a physical pamphlet for $3, SERVE! hopes to provide accessible information to as wide a range of readers as possible. To help protect your community against police harassment, head on over to CUP's website and download SERVE! now.