Show me the “Improper Purpose” – Transgender Woman Tells Forum
Wednesday, 6 April 2016 - 3:22pm
To commemorate the International Transgender Day of Visibility 2016 observed on March 31 just a few days ago, the Guyana Trans United (GTU) and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) held a special media engagement which lead into a “Brunch Talk” forum to discuss the recent case where a male-to-female transgender person, Twinkle, was barred from attending matters in the Georgetown court by Magistrate Dylon Bess for “cross-dressing” by presenting herself in female attire.
Justice delayed is Justice Denied
Twinkle spoke of her experiences from the incident to the actual court hearing. GTU member Twinkle talked about transphobic hate crimes perpetuated against her. In this particular instance, she was attacked by a man because of her gender identity. After being hit in the head with a glass bottle, Twinkle defended herself against the man which caused him bodily harm and he reported this to the police. She reported that the police did not take any reports from her and although she was physically harmed, no medical report was facilitated. “The police didn’t treat me as a matter of concern. They didn’t ask for a medical or anything because they said they didn’t see any injuries but the man got taken care of,” Twinkle said.
At the court hearing, Magistrate Dylon Bess who presided refused to even acknowledge the case, asking Twinkle to change her clothing before she could present herself to his court. “I had to be rebellious. I don’t think the case mattered on how I’m dressed as a trans-woman.” Twinkle was fully dressed in female attire. “I wouldn’t change for a magistrate. I respect the Magistrate for his position as someone in the law and the Magistrate should respect me as a human being expressing my true identity.”
Even the Prosecutor warned Twinkle about how she presents in court stating that she, Twinkle, has little respect for the Court and if she was in America (The United States of) she was going to be locked up. Aside from being barred from the courtroom it was the Prosecutor that informed Twinkle that the Magistrate will not even listen to the case, despite that there were allegations were brought against her to defend. The case was subsequently dismissed while there were police officers guarding the gates to the Court to prevent Twinkle and other GTU members from entering the premises.
GTU along with other supporters from civil society began to protest outside the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court, calling for respect and justice in support for Twinkle and her right to present herself as a transgender woman in a case brought against her. Justice Ian Chung ruled in 2013 that cross-dressing is not a crime unless done for an “improper purpose.” The term “improper purpose” was never defined by the court which leaves it subjective, and a weapon for discrimination with little protection from the law, as in Twinkle’s case.
“Show me the “improper purpose” in going to court,” Twinkle argued.