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Baltimore Trans Woman Arrested During Riots, Held in Men's Cell

Baltimore Trans Woman Arrested During Riots, Held in Men's Cell


Deairra Venable was allegedly harassed by police, forced to wear a revealing shirt, required to pay an outsized bail amount, and is currently being denied medically necessary healthcare.


As protests against police brutality continue in Baltimore following the killing of black 25-year-old resident Freddie Gray, Mashable reports that at least one trans woman has been arrested and was detained Wednesday in an all-male holding facility. She was released Friday.

Deairra Venable, 30, was originally booked as female, but when central booking authorities discovered she was trans, she was transferred to an all-male facility, Venable's lawyer, Astrid Munn of Seddiq Law, told the news site. Her degradation continued as she was allegedly forced to remove her bra by officials and left to wear a shirt that clearly outlined her breasts and nipples, was repeatedly misgendered and "harassed" by officials, and mocked by the jail commissioner who stated "you don't look like a man" during her bail hearing.

Venable was eventually allowed to wear an opaque yellow jumper, but was not been granted access to her estrogen pills for the three days she was detained, according to New York Daily News. Venable's lawyers further implied that her bail may have been inflated to a level far outside of the low-income hairdresser's personal means. Though charged with a fourth-degree burglary misdemeanor, the woman's bail was originally set at $75,000 and quickly pushed up to $100,000, Mashable reports.

"We are being told that, now that the [bail] hearings have resumed, the bails that are being imposed on our indigent clients from the impoverished community are prohibitively high," the Baltimore public defender's office said in a statement. "The practice of setting excessive money [for] bail, which only the wealthy could post, is discriminatory."

Friday, Seddiq Law -- who is representing Venable pro bono -- announced that with the help of friends, Venable was finally able to post bail, hours after the firm itself had begun an online fundraiser to offset the high cost.

Venable still faces the burglary charge, but it could be overturned if the public defenders are successful in their current challenge of the "unlawful detention" of 230 people during the violent uprising following Gray's death. Still, Venable's lawyers are gearing up for pushback from the police.

"According to police, she's a rioter, a looter, and troublemaker," another of Venable's lawyers, Mirriam Seddiq, told the Daily News. "Our version of events will obviously be different than that."

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