By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com March 13 2012 6:00 PM ET
A young transgender woman has filed a lawsuit alleging she was harassed and discriminated against by police officers in Cicero, Ill., a suburb of Chicago.
In the federal suit, filed in late February, Bianca Feliciano, 18, says two officers stopped her and a friend as they walked to a restaurant one day last year, the Chicago Tribune reports. They harassed her and accused her of being a prostitute simply because she is transgender, she says, and continued to verbally abuse her at a police station, where she was arrested for underage possession of tobacco.
“One of the defendant officers threatened to punch Ms. Feliciano, take her to jail and lock her up for fraud because her ID said she is female,” the lawsuit states. The police “repeatedly ridiculed and denied Ms. Feliciano’s gender identity by stating that she was a man, referring to her with male pronouns and calling her by her former name.”
The lawsuit names as defendants the town of Cicero and the two officers, Scott Harris and Jose Calderon. Ray Hanania, a spokesman for the town government, said he could not comment on pending litigation but said the incident is under investigation and that the city opposes discrimination. Both officers are still employed by Cicero’s police department and have not been subject to discipline, he added to Windy City Times.