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Transgender woman suing Cicero police for harassment
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2012-03-12

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A young transgender woman has filed a federal lawsuit against the Town of Cicero and two of its police officers, claiming she was discriminated against because of her gender identity.

Bianca Feliciano, a Chicago resident, claims that two Cicero police officers singled her out for arrest because she is transgender and then continued to threaten and taunt her.

According to the lawsuit, filed in February, Police Officers Scott Harris and Jose Calderon, stopped Feliciano and a "companion because they were in an area 'known for a high concentration of prostitution related activity.'"

The suit states that Feliciano was not doing anything that would suggest she or her companion were engaged in sex work.

The lawsuit alleges that both officers were verbally abusive to Feliciano, calling her names and stating that her identification, indicating her female name and gender identity, were illegal.

"Defendant Officers told her not to talk back, threatened her with violence, and claimed that if she was properly disciplined and punished she would not be the way she is right now," the lawsuit claims. "She was then forced to reveal the name that she was given at birth that is no longer her name."

Feliciano was arrested for underage tobacco possession.

The lawsuit goes on state that officers in the Cicero station refused to call her by her legal name. It also alleges that officers referred to Feliciano as a man, used male pronouns and allowed a male officer to search her.

According to the suit, the officers tried to cover up the incident later.

"Subsequent to this formal complaint, Defendant Officers Harris and Calderon wrote an entirely new police report that included false and fabricated allegations of their encounter and interactions with Ms. Feliciano in order to cover up their illegal, discriminatory and unconstitutional treatment of Ms. Feliciano and avoid any discipline or liability for violating her rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution and Illinois law," the lawsuit states.

Ray Hanania, a spokesperson for the Town of Cicero, said that he cannot comment on the pending litigation. He did, however, say that he believes that both officers named in the suit are still employed with the Cicero Police Department and have not been subject to disciplinary action.

"They did investigate and are investigating the charges," Hanania added.

Hanania said that Cicero has strong policies against discrimination.

Feliciano is represented by Joey Mogul of the People's Law Office.


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