One Fort Lauderdale police officer is facing disciplinary action after he “mis-gendered” a transgender person on a reckless driving ticket issued in late January.
Four days after being pulled over for drag racing a Ford Mustang in a Chevrolet Camaro, Shelby Kendall, who was born male but began identifying as a woman in 2014, filed a complaint with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department’s Internal Affairs, according to The Sun-Sentinel.
The ordeal took place when Officer James Brinton noticed the Camaro drag racing the Mustang down a four-lane public road. He followed the black Chevy into a Winn-Dixie parking lot, where Kendall was ticketed.
“I wasn’t really contesting why I was pulled over,” Kendall said. “I was more contesting how I was treated.”
Brinton went before the Citizens Police Review Board on Monday after referring to Kendall as a male on a reckless driving ticket, despite the fact that the real estate agent’s driver’s license features female pronouns.
“If I’ve done everything I need to do for the state of Florida to recognize me as a female, he doesn’t have a right to purposely mis-gender me,” Kendall said of the police officer. “It was inappropriate and kind of bullying and sends a message to the transgender community.”
But according to Brinton, he wasn’t trying to bully the 48-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident. Instead, the officer said he believed the driver’s license information showing Kendall as female was a mistake, so he listed Kendall as male.
Kendall objected to the identification, but Brinton stood his ground.
“Well, for the purposes of this citation, you’re a male,” Brinton told Kendall, according to a police report.
Police investigators have suggested Brinton receive a written reprimand, but it is up to the city manager to make the final decision on how the officer will be disciplined.
LGBT activist Michael Rajner believes law enforcement officers should have to undergo more training on transgender issues as a result of the incident involving Brinton.
“What concerns me is that the officer felt it was not necessary for him to correct the [citation],” he said. “He robbed that individual of her dignity.”
In a statement about the incident, Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione said the department “is committed to the equal treatment of all of our neighbors and visitors.”
“We endeavor to take appropriate action if there are incidents discovered where it is alleged we veered from that position,” he said. “I believe the department’s actions concerning the investigation before the Citizens’ Police Review Board clearly illustrates our commitment.”