Militant Journalism

Trans woman arrested, accused of being ‘man in dress’ by Texas police

On Oct. 16, Joan Simoncelli, an intersex, two-spirit transgender woman, was arrested on her own property in Bexar County near San Antonio. The officer told Simoncelli that she was arrested for making a “false police report” and for being a “man in a dress.”

Joan Simoncelli

After being booked into the Bexar County Jail, police placed Simoncelli with the male population even though her driver’s license identified her as a female. She was subjected to ridicule, transphobic hate speech and physical pain by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and was forced to appear in court. The community has rallied to her defense.

On the day of her arrest, Simoncelli alleges she was exiting her property, taking photos for real estate purposes. According to Simoncelli, her nephew, who lived nearby, surprised her while she was in her car and began shouting transphobic slurs. Simoncelli remained in the vehicle as the nephew’s frustrations began to grow. He then punched her car window.

Simoncelli and her nephew both contacted law enforcement about the incident. When officers responded, the nephew outed Joan Simoncelli as a trans woman. Simoncelli was then arrested for “making a false report.”

Arrested for calling the police?

Simoncelli’s case is typical of the double standards and harassment that trans, non-binary and intersex people experience daily under capitalism. She did everything she was “supposed” to do in the eyes of the law, undertaking the lengthy and grueling process of changing all of her legal documents (driver’s license, marriage license, even baptismal information) to reflect her lived gender. When she was attacked, she again did what people are told is the “correct” thing to do: call emergency services.

Instead, this just led to further discrimination and even criminal charges against her. The assault, arrest and legal nightmare that Simoncelli has endured shows that the police and legal systems of the United States are designed to discriminate against trans, non-binary and intersex people.

Simoncelli is now facing the injustices of the legal system’s bureaucracy. Her court case was originally scheduled for Dec. 7. The Party for Socialism and Liberation, Black Freedom Factory and Act4SA organized a rally at the Bexar County Courthouse to defend Simoncelli and protest the racist, transphobic “justice” system. Simoncelli’s court case has been moved several times, then moved to Zoom, and has now been rescheduled for next month.

Activists are demanding that Bexar County drop the charges and dismiss the case and that the deputy who arrested Simoncelli, as well as the jail staff who subjected her to ridicule and placed her with the male population, be held accountable for their actions. Anything else will be a grave injustice to Simoncelli and to LGBTQ people everywhere!

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