Justice for Layleen Polanco - repeal #WalkingWhileTrans NOW

 For Immediate Release: Statement from LGBTQ Groups & Public Defenders on Justice for Layleen Polanco This Session

Nina Luo 636-288-8279 nina@vocal-ny.org

Wednesday, June 19 @ 12 pm

In the name of Layleen Polanco, we can repeal the “walking while trans” ban this session and fight state violence against Black trans women. S2253/A654 has the votes in the Senate and Assembly to pass.

Statement from VOCAL-NY, Center for Constitutional Rights, Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC, Make the Road NY, GMHC, Jim Owles Democratic Club, The Legal Aid Society, Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, Housing Works, WOMANKIND, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys

New York, NY -- On Friday, June 7, Layleen Cubilette Polanco, an Afro-Latina trans woman, was found dead in her cell at the Rose M. Singer Center on Riker’s Island. A member of the ballroom collective Xtravaganza, she was only 27. We mourn for the lives of our trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) family that we’ve lost to violence and criminalization, stigma and hate.

Every day, under New York’s racist, transphobic, and regressive “walking while trans” ban, women of color and trans and gender non-conforming communities are profiled, harassed, and arrested for “loitering for the purposes of prostitution,” a statute so broadly written and applied that “wearing a skirt” and “standing somewhere other than a bus stop or taxi stand” is criminal activity. In a deposition, an NYPD officer admitted to looking for “Adam’s apples” to identify trans women to arrest. Many trans women of color who are not sex workers or are not engaging in sex work at the time, are still profiled and arrested for the charge.

The charge, as a “crime of moral turpitude,” exposes our communities to dire employment, housing, and immigration consequences including deportation. A Sylvia Rivera Law Project client, for example, tells the story of a trans femme client, who was arrested, jailed in a male facility and eventually faced deportation proceeedings because of the ban.

Additionally, police use the charge to commit sexual assault against vulnerable populations. TS Candii, VOCAL-NY leader, describes a time she was forced to engage in oral sex with a NYPD Vice officer in exchange for not being arrested for “loitering for the purposes of prostitution.” Another member, who wished not to be identified, describes a time she was strip-searched and sexually harassed in detention after being arrested for the charge.

Layleen died in city custody. She died, in solitary confinement, after having bail set on a misdemeanor charge. State violence against Black and Latinx trans community is an epidemic. In the name of justice and in the name of Layleen, we must pass S2253/A654 (Hoylman/Paulin) to repeal the “walking while trans” ban this session. On the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion led by trans women of color, we must repeal the ban this session, because trans women deserve to live free of violence and persecution. We have the votes in the Senate and Assembly to pass this bill. New York legislators, let’s get this done.