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Bathrooms: Amnesty International on the Sforza incident

Amnesty International has put out a press release on Christina Sforza’s case, specifically focusing on the NYPD Midtown South Precinct’s inadequate response to the situation. I hope this will get some action on the matter.


Friday, October 27, 2006

NYPD Must Investigate Response to Alleged Assault of Transgender Woman at McDonald’s, Says Amnesty InternationalCharges Against Sforza Dropped But Justice Still Not Served, Group Says

(New York) — Amnesty International called on the New York Police Department to investigate possible human rights violations by its officers in their handling of the case of Christina Sforza, a transgender woman involved in an altercation at a McDonald’s restaurant in Manhattan. Sforza claims that officers responding to the incident failed to exercise due diligence in not taking seriously her claim that she was the victim of a hate crime, that they subjected her to false arrest and that they further abused her while in their custody. All charges against Christina Sforza were dropped on Thursday, October 26.

“The NYPD needs to conduct an immediate and impartial investigation into the incident — and hold accountable anyone found responsible for abuses,” said Michael Heflin, director of OUTfront, Amnesty International USA’s program on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights. “If Sforza’s allegations are substantiated, these are serious human rights violations. The allegations of mistreatment by police are especially troubling because they fit a pattern of abuses that Amnesty International has documented.”

Amnesty International members around the world are writing letters to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly urging his immediate attention to the issue.

Sforza asserts that she is not guilty of the charges that were filed against her — “assault with intent to cause physical injury” and “harassment in the second degree.” She says that she was the one who was physically assaulted on July 10 at the McDonald’s restaurant at 341 Fifth Avenue by a man she believes to be the manager. Sforza reports that after being in the bathroom for a minute or two the manager began yelling, “I’m going to kill you, faggot.” She alleges that when she opened the door the manager hit her across the head with a lead pipe and kept hitting her in the head, torso and groin, and on her arms when she tried to protect herself. Sforza told Amnesty International that other staff and customers were cheering and yelling “kill the fag.”

One of Sforza’s friends called the police, but when they came she says they refused to listen to her side of the story and arrested her after the manager claimed she had assaulted him. Sforza reports that officers verbally abused her, refused to allow Emergency Medical Services personnel on the scene to examine her injuries and denied her access to diabetes medicine essential to her wellbeing while she was detained overnight.

Amnesty International is concerned that the alleged violations in this case may constitute discriminatory behavior, torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, false arrest, failure to exercise due diligence, and denial of access to justice.

Amnesty International’s Stonewalled report, released in September 2005, documented numerous incidents of alleged inappropriate police responses to violence against transgender persons and found that transgender people are at heightened risk of police abuse. The report found that police officers often do not respond appropriately to “hate crimes” in which a transgender person is the alleged victim. This includes failure to properly investigate and document the “hate crime” as well as sometimes blaming the victim and even arresting or threatening to arrest the victim of the “hate crime.”

“This is about accountability and this is about justice,” said Heflin. “The NYPD has a choice — it can show it cares about ensuring justice for all people, or it can turn a blind eye.”

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To view Amnesty International’s 2005 report Stonewalled: Police Abuse and Misconduct Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in the U.S., please visit:

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  1. To pee or not to pee? Who would have thought this was going to be such a problem in the case for us transsexuals. I guess maybe because the word begins with a T like in Terrorist, or possibly because the word ends with sexuals which we know is a taboo in our society. Who knows. What I do know is that we live in a world full of individuals that are so focused on their genitals, and worried about others. If transsexuals feel the need to align their gender with their physical sex, should that be a cause of alarm and further create discrimination? Should we instead try to have compassion and learn what would drive an individual to summit themselves to such a painful procedure and be rediculed by our childish society. Has anyone ever thought how miserable a person is, living with the wrong body and genitals? Just ask yourself this: Would I feel comfortable having the opposite genitals from what I identify as? So if you identified as a man and woke up tomorrow morning with a vagina and a set of 36B appendages, how would you feel? Would you be embarassed to use the male bathroom just because the doctor that brought you into this world deemed you a man? Gender lies between your brain, not between your legs. Your brain is hardwired at 8 week gestation (inside your mothers womb) to be a boy or girl brain. This is all hormonally programed, and is seperate from what takes place inside your gonads, reproductive organs and genitals. Did you know we all start of as females and its not until you are 8 weeks old that the process begins to create a boy or girl fetus. If all goes well both your gender and sex are aligned. So know you are lucky when both match, because for some of us though, the mirror makes no sense. Which by the way is the title to my book. So next time you feel the urge to be mean or say a bigot statement to a fellow humanbeing, think again, this can happen to anyone. One out of one hundred babies are born with some form of gender/sex anamoly. This variance is increasing due to endocrine disrupting chemicals in our environment which alter the mother’s hormonal balance inside the womb. This leads to miscommunication with the receptors that are responsible for the development of your genitals and gender. To learn more enter my website: go to marks transition and scroll down towards the links. There I have tons of information regarding the science of gender dysphoria.

    Be kind to each other, and remember we are all in it together

    Mark Angelo Cummings

  2. Thanks for the comment, Mark, and thanks for all the energy you’ve been putting into fighting anti-trans bigotry.

    I have to disagree with you about the hormonal basis for transgenderism, because I don’t think there’s anywhere near enough evidence to conclude that. But really, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that we’re human beings who deserve respect and love.

    And hormonally programmed or no, nobody deserves to be attacked with a lead pipe for using a bathroom.

  3. Hello grvsmth,

    You are right about not deserving to be attacked no matter what, but there is much research done regarding the hormonal implication of our condition. If you visit my website, scroll down towards the link area. There you will find much of the information about this. check out this particular link, it is very informative.

    Either way, it doesnt matter, we need to fight for respect and compassion, I sure is hell am doing my best to create awareness and education. The show will be repeated on November 21st if you missed today.


    Mark Angelo

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