Queer and trans youth of color in NOLA demand accountability from police

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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, it will not come as a surprise to you that queer and trans people of color are routinely targeted by the police.

We Deserve Better, a new report by BreakOUT! — a badass organization working to end the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans — highlights exactly the ways queer and trans youth experience discriminatory policing at the hands of the NOPD. Perhaps most importantly, We Deserve Better also highlights the resiliency of these criminalized communities, and makes common-sense demands to address issues of safety.

With the support of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the queer and trans youth of color of BreakOUT! developed surveys and analyzed the data to create a report detailing the myriad ways LGBTQ people are being criminalized in New Orleans, confirming with survey data what they know through lived experience. They found dramatic differences in the ways that police treat LGBTQ people across race, gender identity, and gender expression, unsurprisingly finding that LGBTQ people of color reported much higher rates of harassment than did white LGBTQ respondents, and that transgender youth were far more likely to report having been harassed than cisgender LGB respondents.

The disparities are staggering. Almost 90 percent of people of color reported having been approached by the police compared to 33 percent of white respondents. Half of trans people reported having been called a slur by the NOPD, compared with 22 percent of cisgender respondents. And 59 percent of trans respondents reported having been asked for a sexual favor from NOPD, as compared to 12 percent of cisgender respondents.

But the report is not merely a collection of statistics, including youth voices and stories that bring the numbers alive throughout the report. And when asked what they needed most to be safe, respondents did not ask for marriage equality. In what should really come as a surprise to absolutely no one, these LGBTQ youth, who are criminalized and struggling to survive, asked for jobs, for housing, for education.

For us, marriage equality is at the bottom of our list. How can I worry about marriage, when I have all these other issues to worry about? When I have to worry about just surviving?

When it comes to LGBTQ youth, the issues get real, especially with transwomen. As a youth-led organization, we focus our energy on transwomen of color, because we think that wins for transwomen of color will lead to wins for all us. If transwomen are able to get jobs and walk down the street without harassment or discrimination, we know that doors will open for others.

Amen. Read the full report here.

1bfea3e7449eff65a94e2e55a8b7acda-bpfullVerónica thinks you should support the amazing work of BreakOUT! by donating here!

New York, NY

Verónica Bayetti Flores has spent the last years of her life living and breathing reproductive justice. She has led national policy and movement building work on the intersections of immigrants' rights, health care access, young parenthood, and LGBTQ liberation, and has worked to increase access to contraception and abortion, fought for paid sick leave, and demanded access to safe public space for queer youth of color. In 2008 Verónica obtained her Master’s degree in the Sexuality and Health program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She loves cooking, making art, listening to music, and thinking about the ways art forms traditionally seen as feminine are valued and devalued. In addition to writing for Feministing, she is currently spending most of her time doing policy work to reduce the harms of LGBTQ youth of color's interactions with the police and making sure abortion care is accessible to all regardless of their income.

Verónica is a queer immigrant writer, activist, and rabble-rouser.

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