Guest Blogger

London Police Sexually Assault 2 Trans People During Royal Wedding?

Filed By Guest Blogger | May 02, 2011 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: London, London police, royal wedding, sexual assault, transgender people, zombie flashmob

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Jane Fae is a writer, journalist and activist in the field of sexual rights. Over the last few years, Jane's focus has been on issues of policing and the law, civil liberties and censorship in the internet age.

jane-fae.jpgAnger is building within the UK's trans community today following reports that heavy-handed security during Friday's royal wedding led to at least two trans individuals being sexually assaulted - by the police.

Allegations are still to be tested, but those familiar with the UK's policing record over the last few years - bouncing from over-soft to ludicrously heavy in response to political pressures from on high - suspect there may well be more than a smidgeon of truth in the story.

As the world looked on through rose-tinted spectacles, here and there in London, small groups of protesters gathered to contrast, in mostly good-natured fashion, the opulence of the royal ceremony with the reality of swingeing public services cuts across the rest of the UK. Radical street theatre, left-wing poetry readings and a zombie flashmob party organised by members of the UK's gender queer community, in Soho Square, at the heart of LGBT London, were just some of the events on the royalty sceptic agenda.

The police (London's Metropolitan force, or "the Met", as they are more commonly known) were not amused. They invoked fairly draconian powers (s60) that enabled them to stop and search anyone, without the safeguard that those in the US would know as "reasonable cause". They also arrested people, taking them off the street temporarily and then releasing them without charge, by adapting some fairly antiquated laws around "breach of the peace".

Examples of things that might have got you arrested on Friday? Possession of a tube of paint. Possession of a leaflet. Or in one instance, apparently, possession of that most dangerous of weapons: a pen. Broadly speaking, the police seemed to be continuing a pattern established at recent more violent demonstrations: coming down hard on those protesting peacefully and with wit; tip-toeing away from anyone better organised and more violent.

All of which sets the stage for the alleged sexual assault of a trans man, Logan Le'Belle, and a trans woman, as described in an initial piece in Lesbilicious and in the blog fanoffury. They arrived early to take place in the flashmob zombie party, saw that police were dispersing it, and decided to walk on by. It made no difference. They were spotted by a group of 6 police officers, consisting of five male and 1 female officer who then proceeded to stop and search them.

Logan described the experience thus: "When searching my person the female police officer said to me 'Okay, I'm going to feel under your bra now', to which I replied 'That's not a bra.'"

"At this point her hands were still on my chest 'What is it then?!' 'A binder' 'Whats a binder?' (At this point, may I point out her hands were still on my chest)." Logan continued, "To this I said 'I'm transgendered.'

"In this time she was feeling my chest way more than she needed to, this entire conversation took place while her hands were going over and around my chest while she held the same quizzical curious expression on her face, whilst she stared at my chest," Logan said. "I can say I was more than uncomfortable."

"She, then, after doing this, and being told I was transgendered, continued to misgender me, as did the rest of the police present."

A second, less intrusive search took place at the police station to which these individuals were removed. Whilst the trans man felt no further insult was delivered, his trans woman companion was "cupped" at least three times in the genital area. Meanwhile, the trans man's crotch remained completely untouched, which, according to him, was fairly odd, given that if either of the pair were concealing anything, as he was wearing very baggy trousers, whilst his companion wore just tight trousers with a rip up the leg.

The story continues to develop. However, there are two further points that need to be made. Contrary to popular view, "intimate body search" is not sanctioned by UK law. This was confirmed earlier this year by the Ministry of Justice in respect of rules issued for the searching of convicted trans prisoners. There is no legal basis for anything other than a simple pat down.

This is confirmed, ironically, by Logan, who explains that he is a fully trained security guard - and that he knows full well the difference between a "pat down" and a "grope". He adds: "when searching a female bodied person you are not allowed to touch their chest, at all with an exception of a running of the backs of the hands down the front, once and nothing more unless you feel something and then you have to ask them to remove it".

His conclusion? He goes on: "I am entirely convinced that the reason we got arrested was because of the fact that we were both trans and both punks, they weren't stopping other people for more than a minute or so. One of which who they didn't even stop, was a man who looked far more suspicious then us."

The Met have been contacted for comment. So far, over 48 hours after the initial request, they have said nothing.


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48 Hours? Of course they've not got back yet. They have't had time to wipe the CCTV footage.

Okay Logan is a transman correct? Your article states this:
"when searching a female bodied person you are not allowed to touch their chest, at all with an exception of a running of the backs of the hands down the front, once and nothing more unless you feel something and then you have to ask them to remove it". Logan is complaing about:
Logan described the experience thus: "When searching my person the female police officer said to me 'Okay, I'm going to feel under your bra now', to which I replied 'That's not a bra.'"

"At this point her hands were still on my chest 'What is it then?!' 'A binder' 'Whats a binder?' (At this point, may I point out her hands were still on my chest)." Logan continued, "To this I said 'I'm transgendered.'
Just curious if Logan is a transman why is he complaining about an officer touching him on the chest? Would he have been more comfortable if it was a male officer? Or is Logan saying I am a tranman until I get searched then I'm a woman and they can't search my chest?
As for the transwoman after Logans commentary and with her absence from commenting herself I find myself believing that this story is unbelievable. I seriously hope that these two aren't making a big stink that makes it harder for others by claiming to be one thing when in reality they are another thing.

um. Think you may be rolling two quite separate issues together into one. There is, first and foremost, the gender of person doing a search in any given situation.

That's not a specifically trans issue, though it may have a trans dimension if there is a disagreement between police/security guards and individuals involved about gender identity. My own view, though, is that a person should be searched by someone of the appropriate gender, unless they aren't bothered - in which case it is the police's call.

So, i'm quite happy to accept that many men - cis or trans - have no issues about the gender of their searcher.

But that is not the issue involved here. Logan was not complaining about the gender of the searcher, but about the nature of the actions carried out, which, if accurately reported, amount to what would be classed as a sexual assault in the UK.

Just for the record, i am talking perfectly openly and in adult fashion to the Police Force concerned and there will be investigation. So i don't see that this is going to be a massive issue.

jane
xx

Thanks for guest posting, Jane. Please keep us up to date on what happens.