Trans woman reveals the horrifying treatment she endured in a men’s jail after being arrested while protesting racism
A trans woman has spoken of the horrifying treatment she endured in a men’s jail after she was arrested at a Black Lives Matter protest in Seattle.
Joan Fochs joined a protest in the city on Sunday, May 31 in response to the brutal killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
Fochs met with other protesters at 9.30pm that evening, but she told Patch that they were quickly ambushed by police.
A police officer approached her and said: “You’re under arrest. You assaulted me.” He claimed she tried to “dismount him” from his bicycle.
Fochs was arrested on suspicion of assault and was taken to the King County Correctional facility later that night.
Trans woman Joan Fochs was jailed in a men’s jail after taking part in a Black Lives Matter protest.
At the jail, she was told that she would be jailed with male inmates because she has not legally changed her gender.
“I very clearly pass as a woman,” Fochs said. “[But] that doesn’t really matter. It should be based on what I say.”
Fochs was told that, in order to be moved to a female unit, she would have to present her case to a “transgender review committee” — but she was not given the option of having her case heard while locked up.
Over the following 44 hours, she said she was sexually harassed by a fellow inmate and had her complaints ignored by jail staff.
It showed me that the police need to be dissolved and there needs to be something different to take their place.
On Monday (June 1) morning, she spotted a man in the cell opposite her exposing his genitals to her through the flap in the door meant for food.
She claimed that she endured sexual harassment from the inmate for at least six hours.
Later, when that man was let out of his cell for a daily break, he started pounding on her cell door for 15 to 20 minutes.
Furthermore, she was left without her hormone and anti-anxiety medications during her 44-hour stint in the jail.
Fochs said she had “a complete and total mental breakdown” due to the lack of medication.
“I had a panic attack. I was hunched in the corner sobbing and hyperventilating.”
She was asked if she was ‘a real woman’ by another inmate.
Jail staff ignored her pleas for help. Even when she told them that she wanted to file a harassment complaint, they “just kept moving along”.
That night, the man who was harassing her was finally moved after she broke down in tears in front of nurses.
However, other men in the jail continued to make comments about her, and she said she was asked if she was “a real woman”.
When she was finally released from jail, she was not charged with any crime.
“I never even got my hearing before a judge, or anything,” she said.
She added: “It showed me that the police need to be dissolved and there needs to be something different to take their place.”
A spokesperson for the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention told Patch that they are reviewing Fochs’s claims.