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Arrested as a Transvestite

Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013

True Stories

So, guess who got arrested for a domestic squabble? Yep, you guessed right. This article isn't about the squabble because it is a private affair. Instead, this is about the experience of being arrested.

So if you've been following the comic, it's being gifted with themes involving cross-dressing and other transgender-oriented issues, but at the time of writing, nothing has really matured yet. These themes are obviously personal to me, as is the rest of what appears in the comic. I'm sure you can guess why...

The arrest

So there I was, wearing a skirt, tank top, and bra, and a police officer was putting handcuffs on me. With the fight still on my mind, and feeling like I was in the right, I was about to be taken to a place where cross-dressers and any other transgender person are reputed to be treated very badly. In short, I was a man who had not yet been charged with a crime being put in a situation where the "cruel and unusual punishment" and "due process" rights could very well get violated. I'll admit it, I was scared.

I asked to be allowed to change clothes before going and was assured I'd get to change quickly. I pointed out that when I got out, this would be what I had and denied the opportunity to change clothes because of procedures. So at some point in my future, I would be let out of jail either downtown or out in the county jail in Del Valle with only what I had in my possession at the time of my arrest. Again, denied, but apologetically so.

I sat down in the cop car more worried about my future than I've ever been.

When I got to the cop shop, I was walked in pretty quickly and seated on the bench where you wait to be searched. As a procedure, you get checked in, initial paperwork is done by the arresting officer (I think he writes up his report at this time, too), your belongings are carefully searched and inventoried, and then you are searched and your clothes inventoried. Since the arresting officer has already frisked you, there's not much involved in this search, but you are never allowed out of sight of a police officer.

So I sat down on the far end of the bench, noticing as I did that there was a somewhat scantily clad and quite attractive lady sitting on the near end. The forced separation of genders in this situation struck a nerve in me, as you'd expect. Should I sit one side of my body on the girls' side? Would they allow me to? Obviously not. She kept a close eye on me, and I got the distinct feeling I saw a blend of curiosity and attraction. Before I got to sit, however, four men were brought in to sit on the bench. Three of them ignored me.

One did not.

He had a staring problem. Realizing this could be the first of a series of unpleasant encounters, I decided to try a little domination. I met his eyes and held them, thinking every powerful thought I could, until he finally looked away.

Then I sat down.

A few minutes later, they called the girl up to inventory her belongings. They had her put a jail uniform over her clothes and sent her to the area populated by plushy blue couches that are obviously moveable and difficult to use as weapons.

Then it was my turn.

First, I was taken to a private room, handed a jail uniform, and told to change my clothes. So the arresting officer was right about that. I pulled the bra and tank top off in one smooth motion trying to downplay what was there. The sarong was just tied on, as they are, and they often take themselves off. After donning the uniform, I was reminded of the one part of that wasn't easily removed: I'm not really a waitress. Yep, that was the color on my toe nails.

Then I was taken back and asked to put my clothes in the bag. An officer stood there carefully cataloging everything so that I could get it all back when I got out. The officer who watched me change my clothes spoke very quietly "One black bra". The inventory person wrote it, not saying a word. Then we had the standard "Do you have any allergies?" interview.

Follow the Black Line

"Follow the black line," said the cop. I looked down and saw it, thinking I was about to walk into the general waiting area.

I was wrong. I walked straight to the medical center. I couldn't help but notice that the girl who had gone first hadn't had to go there, leading me to believe I was going to get a quick and dirty psych review. While I was waiting to see what would happen, I exchanged periodic glances with the girl. She seemed very much curious at this point, and if we made any attempt to communicate, there would have been trouble. I thought back to my last arrest and couldn't remember going to the medical station.

Two other men joined me while I was waiting, and one of them started talking to me. I was curious if he noticed the toe nails, but I have to say he behaved as if he didn't. Being arrested has a way of making complete strangers come together in misery and forget their differences. He informed me that everyone goes through medical processing, and that they'd ask if I had any thoughts about hurting myself so they could put me in the padded room all by myself.

I had a bad feeling what was about to happen.

When I interviewed with the nurse, I naturally tried to do whatever I could to sound normal and healthy. Can't say I was successful, I probably answered a few questions too honestly. She chose the padded room after suggesting I might be safer there than on the blue chairs. I told her I'd rather take my chances there, and she pleasantly declined.

Then I was walked over to an area I hadn't seen before and put in the cold, padded room.

Suicide tank

When you go to the suicide tank, you get the VIP treatment. You get a room to yourself that has plumbing. That is, if you count a grate in the floor through which you're intended to urinate and defecate as plumbing. It's well-furnished with, well, nothing really. There's a six inch ledge you can sit on. Luckily it's well lit, even at night, and has a nice large window you can see out of.

When I was taken out for mugshots and fingerprints, I was escorted by a very nice officer whose first words upon opening the cell were to compliment my toe nails. He was friendly, even jovial. I don't remember our brief conversation by word, but I do remember how he made me feel, and he made me feel very good. Similarly, while being photographed and fingerprinted (coincidentally right next to the previously mentioned girl), I engaged the officer in a discussion of various police cars. You know, me being a mechanic and all. The officer who escorted me back to my cell was likewise quite jovial. He even told me "Dave" is a nice name, a cool name.

And I sat again. With only my thoughts to keep me company, I realized they were probably treating me so well because I was in the suicide tank, and therefore considered a suicide risk, and these officers didn't want me to kill myself.

I've never been one to disrespect a police officer, but when it comes to handling transgender prisoners the police on the whole have a terrible reputation. When I realized they were trying to take care of me, my respect for these officers jumped up several notches. I also started to feel a sort of gratitude. In my last arrest, I came out of Del Valle with nothing but contempt for the people in the system. I was treated badly, but not abused, at every step in the process. This time, I was being treated well. Except for the suicide tank part, but I can make a case for the nurse trying to protect me from the other prisoners.

But I won't make that case, because it doesn't hold water.

A New Suicide Tank

When it was time to put me in my holding cell, I was walked alone. Normally, for this part, they walk prisoners in as a line and have them each take turns changing their clothes. Then they're taken to their post as a line, oriented, and sent to separate cells.

I was going alone. I started to feel a little warmth flushing up my spine.

I didn't have to check in at the clothes-changing station because I had already done that, so I was taken directly to my holding cell.

A 62 degree concrete room. Same toilet as the last one, but this one didn't even pretend to be padded. And my jail uniform was taken from me and replaced with a paper gown.

I no longer felt the nurse was trying to protect me, not even from myself.

I won't go into my thoughts in there. I'd rather not remember that room. It took a couple of hours before I earned myself the vinyl gown, which was a very interesting dress. But it did nothing to make me feel pretty, even though the black vinyl exterior looked very nice next to the red toe nails.

Sometime in the morning, a counselor showed up. We talked for awhile, and she got a bit flustered that I'd been put there. She didn't see any reason for me to be there and recommended my immediate transfer to a regular cell.

For the sake of accounting the complete procedure, I also spoke to pre-trial services while in this cell. I found myself giving the three names I got out of my phone as references.

And I was served "breakfast".

Last moments in jail

In the regular cell I finally got some useful horizontal sleep. I was warm, thanks to a wool blanket and a jail uniform. I was comfortable on the pad. I had a toilet, toilet paper, and a sink that gave me hot and cold water. I was in good shape and could finally mull over the fight. There was only a couple of hurdles left in the process. I had to see a magistrate who would formally charge me and give me my bond. Then I had to hope for a way out of jail through the personal bond, and hope beyond hope that it happened that evening so I could make it to work the next day.

I made it through two more "meals", and was called to court during the dinner meal. Because of how these meals were spaced, that meant I was going to court around 6pm. It wasn't looking good for making it to work the next day.

Going to court meant being handcuffed to another prisoner, formed into a group, and walked in. The guy I was handcuffed to had another guy handcuffed on the other side to account for chair spacing in the courtroom. Naturally we waited, and I dozed off several times listening to the judge go through his spiel. I had heard it before, and as before, he addressed the spanish speakers first so he could get the translator off the phone as soon as possible. Then I roused myself to listen as he went down the line for each prisoner and charged them, set bond, and asked if they wanted a court-appointed attorney.

Then he got to me. I'm not going into details on that because it would require talking about the fight itself, which is a private matter. Suffice it to say, he said he was dropping charges and I would be getting out soon.

I was excited and scared. I was excared. Having done this before, I knew what scene would greet me when I left the jail.

It took an hour for it all to go down and I found myself in the long skinny room in which you get to change into the clothes you were wearing when you got there. Having no way to carry the bra without it being seen, I simply put it back on. I took several deep breaths and reminded myself that projecting confidence would be the key to getting through this next part, and I only had to get home where I could change.

Free at last

In a mere 20 hour period, I had gone over an emotional rollercoaster that was quite interesting as a thrill ride. Then it was time to face the outside.

I walked right through the waiting room, careful to moderate my pace. Didn't want to come off as nervous. Getting to the door I reminded myself that I needed to rock that sarong, which I proceeded to do immediately.

There's a particular gait that I've noticed is quite natural to adopt when wearing a skirt. You have several problems to deal with, and a particular view you want to present. The problems, especially when you didn't get to put any underwear on before getting arrested, all revolve around how the skirt falls around your buttocks through each walking movement. Without underwear, you have the added problem where your buttcrack keeps grabbing the skirt. So you develop a sashaying motion that actually projects the sexy ass look you want to project.

Suffice it to say, I felt great! I felt the breeze blowing between my legs and around my testicles (a feeling you get with underwear, too). I felt sexy. I felt nervous, but that was dropping off since I was rocking that skirt. I had never been outside in daylight wearing women's clothes (well, obviously women's clothes, pants and shorts plenty of times), and here I was commanding all attention.

So I paused, took a moment to carefully survey the layout. There were three groups of people collected together, either waiting for someone to come out or who had already come out. I looked at each one in turn. One group was self-absorbed. Another was glaring at me. I smiled at them.

I picked the middle group that was a man and a purple-haired woman that were obviously talking about me. Besides liking purple hair, I figured they were most likely to have a cigarette.

And they did. We walked as a group down the street to the guy's car where he had a pack waiting for him and we each smoked and enjoyed each other's company for a bit. My ride was on the way, there was hardly anybody about, life was good.

In the end

I have to say this. Cops get called out all the time for the bad things they do. And they do do those things, and it seems to be happening at an alarming rate. And they do particularly bad things to transgender people. I was treated very well by the police. Not so much by the nurse, but everyone else at every step of the way behaved very professionally. They may have gone off later and had a quiet laugh, but out where they could be seen they behaved very well and brought honor to their uniforms. We have to recognize when they do those things, we really do.

And, you know, being dropped in the middle of downtown with nothing but my wits and my clothes forced a certain level of growth out of me. Later, I went to the grocery store without a fear. What could be scary at the grocery store compared to what I had just faced? Really, the worst part about my experience was the fear I carried with me throughout the process.

I needed not fear.

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