Juan Evans, a trans man who was allegedly harassed and dehumanized by police officers in East Point, Ga., received a small measure of justice this week after hearing a heartfelt apology from the town's mayor, reports the Georgia Voice. But he is continuing to seek an apology and an indication of future changes from the town's police department.
On October 23, Evans was pulled over by police for speeding. Having left his wallet at his office several blocks away, Evans identified himself by providing his birth name, birthdate, social security number, and address, he explains in the video below. He told officers that he was trans after an officer accused him of lying.
In response, a police officer allegedly demanded to search Evans' genitals on the side of the road to determine his gender. When Evans refused, he says the officer laughed and stated, "I have a right to search your mother's genitals to find out who you are."
Evans was then arrested and taken to a police station. Once there, he says he was threatened multiple times with forced genital searches, yelled at, outed in front of his cellmates, and called "it" and "a thing."
Following his release without charges, Evans made his story publicly known in a video from the Solutions Not Punishment Coalition (SNaP Co), a group that works towards freedom from police harassment for trans and gender-nonconforming people.
"I will not give [East Point police officers] my dignity, I will not live in fear of you, and I will not let you shame and humiliate me into submission," Evans states in the video. "I heard what you think of me and my community, with all of the names you called me. ... And I will unapologetically tell you who I am. I am not an 'it,' I am not a 'thing.' I am trans, and you don't have the right to arrest me for being trans."
On October 29, 50 protestors marched from the East Point Police Department to City Hall, condemning the town's alleged police discrimination and demanding an apology from the police department, reports the Voice. In addition, SNaP Co has requested to work with the police department to deliver sensitivity trainings that would make it clear that genital searches cannot be used to determine gender and that preferred names are not "lies" or aliases.
A week after the incident, Evans says he received a "sincere apology" from East Point Mayor Jannquell Peters, but the issue has yet to be fully resolved. "As I told her, that [apology from her] touched my heart," Evans explained to the Voice. "But to hear it form the officers would heal my soul."
SNaP Co will continue to seek an apology and policy changes from East Point police officers on Evans' behalf, spokesperson Everette Thompson told the Voice. "What happened to Juan, we know happens often. This is all part of our fight."
Hear more from Evans and SNap Co below.